The EU Parliament approved the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) with a huge majority Tuesday.
The budget of €6.5 billion for 2014-2020 will finance projects in the new reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and provide financial support to fishermen, fish farmers and coastal communities to adapt to the changed rules. The fund will also finance projects to boost Blue Growth and jobs under the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP).
None of the money will be spent on the building of new fishing vessels or other initiatives “which would contribute to increasing fishing capacity”, said a press release from the European Commission.
This new EU fisheries fund provides a tremendous opportunity for European nations and corporations to begin the replenishment and restoration of their depleted ocean pastures. If the experience and success in restoring ocean pastures of the NE Pacific and Alaska is developed and deployed on EU fish pastures they too may look forward to historic fish abundance.
Indeed plans are already underway to replenish and restore N. Atlantic ocean fish pastures with every likelihood of success. This new EU fisheries restoration program is both synergistic and perfectly timed for private public partnership efforts to Bring The Fish Back. In our view for less than 1% of the new EU Fisheries restoration fund European ocean fish pastures can be replenished, restored to historic abundance, and send hundreds of millions of additional fish into the nets and onto the plates of Europeans. We can simply do it faster, better, cheaper.
European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, welcomed the adoption: “Our reformed fisheries policy is putting European fisheries on a sustainable footing once and for all. To get there will mean radical changes for our fishermen and the whole sector, which needs our financial support. We will co-fund concrete projects in the Member States to help fishermen and coastal communities develop a sustainable seafood industry – from the net to the plate.“
The priority is rather to help small-scale fishermen, who will benefit from a higher rate of aid intensity, as well as young fishermen and fishermen’s families. It will also help fish-farmers become more competitive by supporting them to reach out to new markets.
Now approved fisheries ministers in the council for final adoption will provide the details on how the EMFF will be implemented by June of this year.
The EMFF will co-finance projects alongside national funding streams with each member state receiving a share of the total budget.
Member states will draw up their national operational programs, specifying how they intend to spend the money allocated and, once approved by the EC, the national authorities will decide which projects they wish to support.
The new EMFF will provide investment and funding opportunities for fishermen, fish farmers and coastal communities to contribute to reducing the impact of fisheries on the marine environment and to restore and rebuild fish stocks.
The EMFF is expected to help ensure a stable supply of sustainable seafood products for consumers, boost innovation, help communities to diversify their economies, finance projects that create new jobs, and ultimately improve quality of life along European coasts, said the EC.
Funding for fisheries data collection is provided to assist decisions that can be based on robust evidence, and reinforce the fisheries control programs to ensure that the rules on responsible and sustainable fishing are respected and complied with by all. The fund will also support the regionalized policy-making of the new CFP and allow all stakeholders to fully participate.
Added focus will be given to those initiatives that benefit various sectors across the board but cannot be accomplished by any single sector-based policy or single member state such as maritime spatial planning, integrated maritime surveillance and marine knowledge.