With a budget of €6.5 billion for 2014-2020, the fund will finance projects to implement 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).
EU Fisheries Commissioner 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."
Uta Bellion, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ EU Marine Programme and co-ordinator of OCEAN2012, also commented on the adoption, saying: “OCEAN2012 congratulates the European Parliament, EU fisheries ministers and the European Commission for achieving an historic reform that lays the way for ending EU overfishing. Great credit goes to the many civil society groups and EU citizens who sustained support over five years for a fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.”
Xavier Pastor, executive director of Oceana in Europe, stated: “The European Parliament proved itself to be a force for environmental good during negotiations for the CFP, however in the case of the EMFF we saw more extreme differences of opinion: both the most environmentally destructive proposal –subsidies to build new boats- and the most beneficial proposal –to double funding for data collection and control measures– came from the Parliament. Fortunately the proposal to fund new boats was rejected by the Plenary.”
Funding sustainable fishing
With the reform of its Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the EU has acted against overfishing and the practice of throwing unwanted fish back in the sea. 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 rebuild fish stocks. Crucially, by financing more selective fishing gear for instance, the fund will also help eliminate wasteful discarding practices – a key aspect of the new policy.
No EU money will be spent on the building of new fishing vessels or other initiatives which would contribute to increasing fishing capacity. 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. The Fund will also help fish-farmers become more competitive by supporting them to reach out to new markets. The EMFF will thus 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.
In addition, it will also fund fisheries data collection to allow decisions to be based on robust evidence, and reinforce the fisheries control programmes to ensure that the rules on responsible and sustainable fishing are respected and complied with by all. The fund will also support the regionalised policy-making of the new CFP and allow all stakeholders to fully participate.
Boosting blue growth
For the first time, the fund will also boost the Integrated Maritime Policy by facilitating coordination across borders and across sectors. Funding will focus on 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.
The Fund will now go to Fisheries Ministers in the Council for final adoption which will allow the EMFF to come into force in June 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 programmes, specifying how they intend to spend the money allocated and, once approved by the Commission, the national authorities will decide which projects they wish to support.