Fisheries fund proposal to be released on Friday

On Friday, we will know how the European Commission wants to spend money on fisheries over the next seven years.

The final part of the CFP reform proposal, the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), will be made public 2 December. The date was confirmed by Commissioner Maria Damanaki’s spokesperson.

Spanning over the the years 2014–20, the EMFF is expected to have a total value of € 6.7 billion.

The EMFF will replace the current European Fisheries Fund (EFF) which runs from 2007 to 2013. But EMFF is not only a new abbreviation. The added M as in Maritime actually carries some new content, since the fund will also include money for the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP), which did not exist at the time of the creation of the previous EFF.

What we can expect
Based on what sources say about an earlier working document that went into inter-service consultation in the Commission, these are some of the news that we could expect on Friday:

  • There will be no more scrapping subsidies.
  • The fund will support the establishment and management of TFC systems.
  • Clear conditionality that operators involved in illegal fishing should be excluded from support.
  • Better coordination with five other EU funds such as the Regional Development Fund and the Cohesion Fund.

At a seminar in the European Parliament last week, Commissioner Maria Damanaki said, “We will finance, in a generous way, more selective gears” to support the implementation of a discards ban.

How many of these preliminary indications that will stay in the final proposal released on Friday remains to be seen.

[Update 1 Dec.:] On her blog, Maria Damanaki wrote on Thursday that the funding would aim to make small-scale fisheries more viable: “It will add more value to fishing related activities and will promote the diversification of local communities to other sectors of the maritime economy, such as: Preserving and processing the fish maritime tourism, cleaning of the sea, aquaculture. […] Marketing initiatives will be backed, as well as training and professional qualifications.”

Why the money is important
In any case, money is a hot issue in fisheries. 14 member states have declared that they want to keep subsidies on at least the same level as today. Conversely, environmental NGOs such as WWF want to redirect subsidies in order to downsize the fishing fleet.

Earlier this year, fuel subsidies created a heated debate in the European Parliament, and fisheries subsidies have lead to quarrels in the WTO.

Research shows that subsidies play a major role in overfishing. In October, a group of investigative journalists revealed that Spain doles out millions in aid to a fishing company that breaks the rules.

Whatever the EMFF ends up containing, it will have a huge influence on the future direction of EU fisheries. Not surprisingly, many people will have their eyes on the proposal on Friday.

Axel Naver

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