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EU Fisheries Fund for Belgium for 2007-2013

EU - The European Commission has approved the Operational Programme for the Belgian Fisheries Sector for the period 2007-2013.

The total eligible public expenditure of the programme amounts to around € 52.5 million, with EU assistance through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) amounting to € 26.3 million.

According to the Europa press office, the regions covered under this programme are non Convergence regions.

The purpose and aim of the EU investment

During the previous programming period (2004/2006), Belgium benefited from over € 23 million of EU support under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance. As a result, between 2005 and 2007, 13 fishing vessels were scrapped, reducing the capacity of the Belgian trawler fleet by 11 % (kW). 72 vessels were modernized. Three new aquaculture enterprises were created with a total production capacity of 55 tons, and six aquaculture enterprises were modernized. There was an extension of the processing capacity of more than 10 000 tons, and around 100 new jobs were created.

The Operational programme for 2007-2013 aims to support the development of sustainable, economically viable, competitive and market-oriented fisheries sector by encouraging restructuring of the fleet, sustainability, diversification and innovation.

Priority axes

Priority 1: Adaptation of the EU fishing fleet

This priority axis aims to adjust fishing capacities to fishing possibilities and to develop a viable, efficient and environmentally-friendly fishing fleet. Among the EFF measures foreseen are the permanent cessation of fishing activities, investments in modernization on board vessels, including engine replacement to improve energy efficiency and introduction of more selective fishing methods. Socio-economic measures can be used to facilitate young fishers' entry into the sector and, to develop professional skills of fishers as well as vocational training for fishers wishing to find work outside the fisheries sector.

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

The objective of this axis is a further development of sustainable aquaculture and fish processing by means of product and market diversification and modernization of existing enterprises, with the focus on the product quality and value added as well as farming of new and prospective species. The main EFF measures envisaged to meet these priorities are support for productive investments in aquaculture, processing and marketing, aqua-environmental measures.

Priority 3: Measures of common interest

This axis supports measures of common interest with a broader scope than measures normally undertaken by private enterprises and which help to meet the objectives of the common fisheries policy. Special focus is given to the protection of aquatic fauna and flora, development of fishing ports and landing sites, promotion of marketing measures and pilot projects, as well as different collective actions.

Priority 4: Sustainable development of fisheries areas

This axis aims to facilitate sustainable development of fisheries areas and communities facing socio-economic difficulties and to maintain jobs, welfare and the quality of life on the initiative of local fisheries groups. To achieve the objective, diversification of activities, development of tourism, in particular eco-tourism, increasing added value to the fisheries products, dissemination of innovation, as well as training the employees of the fisheries sector will be encouraged within local development strategies.

Priority 5: Technical assistance

The support under this axis ensures that the management, control and monitoring systems of the operational program function efficiently and that the program and aid are implemented in an appropriate manner.