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EC Approves UK Fisheries Fund

by Ellen Hardy
25 September 2008, at 1:00am

UK - The European Commission has approved the Operational Programme for the UK fisheries industry for the period 2007-2013.

The total eligible public expenditure of the programme is € 246,888,645, with EU assistance through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) amounting to € 137,827,889. The programme covers the entire territory of the UK. Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, West Wales & the Valleys and the Highlands & Islands are eligible under the definition of Convergence regions. The remainder of the UK has non-Convergence status.

The purpose and aim of the EU investment

During 2004-2006 the UK benefited from EU support under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance of approximately € 183 million. As a result almost 2,000 projects were financed, of which the greater part concerned modernisation of existing vessels, support for processing and marketing, investments in port facilities, aquaculture and scrapping.

The new EU programme for 2007-2013 aims to build on the success of the previous programme and to consolidate the preconditions for a viable fisheries and aquaculture sector that respects nature and meets the demands of consumers and the food industry.

Priority axes

Priority 1: Adaptation of the EU fishing fleet

The objective of this axis is to contribute to the sustainable development of fishing resources, while at the same time improving the performance and profitability of the fisheries sector. This goal will be achieved by adapting the capacity of the fishing fleet to available resources and by upgrading the fleet so as to make it more efficient and more environmentally friendly.

Support will be granted for permanent and temporary cessation, investments on board fishing vessels that aim at improving safety, hygiene and working conditions, selectivity and product quality, as well as environmental efficiency. Such support will also cover small-scale coastal fishing. Socio-economic compensation will be available to fishermen who wish to diversify into other activities or upgrade their professional skills. Subsidies will be available to help young fishermen acquire a fishing vessel.

Priority 2: Aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing of fishery products

This axis contributes to the growth and diversification of aquaculture, processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products, and lifelong learning in the aquaculture sector. The measures supported aim to increase the production capacity and quality of the aquaculture sector through investments.

The processing and marketing sector will also be supported by investments. Aqua-environmental measures will be financed to protect and improve the environment and animal health measures will be supported to control and eradicate diseases in aquaculture.

Priority 3: Measures of common interest

This axis aims to increase the profitability and competitiveness of the fishing sector. The main focus will be on development and delivery of training in professional, safety and specialist skills. It will also seek to encourage sustainable exploitation of resources, improve hygiene standards and minimise environmental impacts.

This priority axis also aims at developing new markets for fisheries and aquaculture products, with the emphasis on quality and value enhancement. Measures foreseen to achieve these priorities include collective actions, protection and development of aquatic fauna and flora, investments in fishing ports, landing sites and shelters, development of new markets and promotion campaigns and pilot projects.

Priority 4: Sustainable development of fisheries areas

In order to help preserve a diverse socio-economic structure and raise the quality of life in fisheries areas, this priority axis will support local development strategies developed by groups in selected fisheries areas.

This axis supports the efficient implementation of the Operational Programme at the national level by building up and reinforcing administrative capacity. It will also finance measures to disseminate information, improve networking, raise awareness and promote co-operation.

Ellen Hardy