The European Parliament, Council and Commission have reached a provisional agreement on legislation that would allow fishing people affected by the dire condition of certain fish stocks in the Baltic Sea to leave the fishing sector, with the financial support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), received under specific conditions.
The agreement concerns specifically vessel owners in affected Member States wishing to permanently decommission their vessels that used to target eastern cod or that are active in the western cod and herring fishery.
‘It is important that yesterday we could reach an agreement that offers relief to our fishermen and women who are coping with the dual challenge of the steep reduction of fishing opportunities in the Baltic and the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis,’ said Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries.
‘Our actions today have a double function: fostering a healthier, more sustainable Baltic of tomorrow by ensuring the survival of fish stocks, while at the same time supporting the livelihoods of those whom the fish stock crisis in the Baltic Sea has hit the most.’
The difficult situation of the two Baltic cod fisheries and the western Baltic herring fishery has resulted in substantial reductions of fishing opportunities and the full closure of targeted eastern Baltic cod fishery since July 2019 and the Commission has proposed further reductions of fishing opportunities for 2021.
While these decisions are seen as necessary to allow fisheries to recover, they could also potentially result in severe and unavoidable economic hardship for the fishing communities and fleets traditionally targeting those stocks.
At the Council meeting of 14-15th October 2019, the Commission and fisheries ministers and agreed to help the fishermen and women most affected by this economically difficult situation.
In October 2019, the Commission swiftly adopted a proposal to modify the relevant legislation. The agreement reached yesterday will address the potentially severe economic impact of these necessary measures. It comes only a few days before the Our Baltic conference, which will tackle the environmental factors affecting the Baltic Sea, such as biodiversity loss and climate change, eutrophication, overfishing and pollution. The European Parliament and the Council both need to confirm this agreement in the coming weeks.
Permanent cessation measures were allowed under the EMFF until 31st December 2017. Today’s agreement reintroduces this measure, under certain conditions, until the end of the current EMFF period 2014-2020 for the fleets fishing, or which used to fish, for eastern and western Baltic cod and western Baltic herring.
Member states must ensure that capacity withdrawn from the fleet with EMFF support reduces pressure on those stocks and helps them recover over time. The proposal does not increase EMFF funding per member state nor the EU’s overall budgetary contribution.