The EU fishing industry has welcomed the rapid response from the European Commission in adopting emergency measures designed to mitigate the adverse effects of the energy crisis and to calm tensions across seafood markets.
This follows the recently published a legislative package for state aid measures and financial compensation under the new Fisheries Fund (EMFAF) to support the fishing sector following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
The EU fishing industry has voiced its appreciation to Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, for the quick call for a second meeting to take stock on the measures adopted. Industry bodies Europêche and EAPO agreed with the Commissioner on the need for speedy and flexible implementation of the provisions in the Member States as well as for the approval of some additional measures under the current Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
‘The sector certainly welcomes the European Commission’s rapid action to unlock funding so that Member States can provide as a matter of urgency financial aid to our fishermen. Given the fact that governments are reacting differently to the situation and adopting measures at a different pace and extent, it is now fundamental that the Commission pushes national authorities to quickly put in place these authorised measures and reduce red tape to guarantee a level playing field,’ commented Europêche President Javier Garat.
‘Equally important is to produce as soon as possible a guidance document for Member States to better understand whether different aid schemes can be cumulated. Certainly our fishers need all the support they can get.’
Fishermen’s priority is to continue fishing, to supply seafood and maintain employment – although under these exceptional circumstances, even with financial aid, some companies will not be able to fish.
The industry bodies stated that it is therefore important to help fishermen who have to suspend their activities, given the fact that in many cases aid will only arrive months later.
The industry argues that this also reinforces the point that the ceiling for state aid per fishing vessel under the temporary framework should be raised, since this type of support can reach companies in a matter of weeks.
‘Fishing vessels have been in port for a long time and the fish seasons for certain species will be over soon, for instance blue whiting. To tackle the situation we need to provide fishers the option to carry over more than the existing 10% of their fishing quotas to next year. After all this is a key free-of-charge measure that was already put in place back in 2015 with the Russian invasion to Crimea. This will secure employment and income. We need to prepare for every future scenario,’ said EAPO President Esben Sverdrup-Jensen.
‘We welcome the Commission’s commitment to analyse the situation on a case-by-case basis based on quota consumption. We support the request of an ICES advice for the affected fish stocks to analyse the feasibility of quota banking. It is in everybody’s interest to secure the sustainability of the fish populations.’
The industry also appreciates the announcement by Commissioner Sinkevicius that his staff are working on the amendment of the current EMFF (2014-2020) to fully utilise the fund and to unlock the remaining unused one billion Euros to help the sector.