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Minister's Proposal to Benefit Small Scale Vessels

SPAIN - The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Miguel Arias Caete, has said that the government is advocating the inclusion of boats with a length less than 15 m, or whose high tide does not exceed 24 hours, so that areas highly dependent on fisheries can benefit from aid which foresees the future European Fund for Fisheries and Maritime.

The minister explained: "As a government, I have responsibility for safeguarding the general interests and find the best solution for all. For this reason, I think that with this definition we will benefit the vast majority of fishing vessels which are small scale and maintain a manageable definition that the Commission seems to be able to accept," he added.

Mr Arias Caete thus responded to a question from Senator PNV, Jos Mara Cazalis Eiguren on criteria that will defend the Spanish Government in relation to the definition of artisanal and small-scale fishing fleet in the process of the Common Fisheries Policy reform.

In response, the minister has admitted that it is appropriate to extend the definition being proposed with broader criteria.

Mr Arias Caete explained that the Commission has shown itself open to proposals for new definitions of coastal fishing and recognised the low utilisation of aid in the current programming period. However, "the Commission imposes conditions that this definition is objective, that the fleet involved can be identified and controlled with ease, that the aid can be verified, and is applicable to all Member States," he stressed.

For this reason, Mr Arias Caete stressed: "To provide a constructive solution, the Government has proposed the definition of vessels up to 15 m. in length or tides not exceeding 24 hours."

In addition, Mr Arias Caete has said that this proposal, agreed with the Autonomous Communities and the industry, "covers the entire national fleet and includes, in addition, most companies and family businesses which are dependent on fishing."

Therefore, the minister does think the request of the PNV to introduce another set of boats is reasonable.

The minister has committed to making every effort to defend the sector as requested. "But we are aware that the required majority of Member States to support such a broad definition may not happen," he concluded.

Lucy Towers

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