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Brussels, 19 June 2006

Questions and Answers on the European Fisheries Fund (EFF)

What are the main objectives of the EFF?

The main objective of the EFF is to grant financial support to the European fishing industry, during the period 2007-2013, with a view to helping it adapt to changing needs. The Fund will particularly focus on:

  • supporting the major objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), particularly those agreed during the reform of the policy in 2002. These include securing the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and achieving a stable balance between these resources and the capacity of the EU fishing fleet;
  • strengthening the competitiveness and economic viability of operators in the sector ;
  • promoting environmentally-friendly fishing and production methods;
  • providing adequate support to people employed in the sector;
  • facilitating the diversification of economic activities in fisheries areas;

What are the main priorities of intervention of the EFF?

To secure economic, environmental and social sustainability in fisheries, EFF will target five priority areas. These are:

  • 1. adaptation of the Community fishing fleet to the available resources;
  • 2. aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing of fisheries and aquaculture products;
  • 3. measures of collective benefit;
  • 4. sustainable development of fisheries areas;
  • 5. technical assistance to facilitate the delivery of EFF aid.

1. Adaptation of the Community fishing fleet

The EFF will provide aid to fishermen and vessel owners affected by measures taken under multi-annual plans, designed to help threatened stocks recover, within the framework of national plans for the adjustment of the fleets concerned. Those affected could also benefit from aid in case of temporary cessation of activities due to emergency measures, the non-renewal of a fisheries agreement, closures of fisheries for reasons of public health or following natural disasters. Training and early retirement schemes will also receive support.

The use of more environmentally-friendly fishing gear and techniques will be eligible for aid, for example, in the case of vessels required to change fishing techniques under a recovery plan or reconverting to other fisheries. There will be aid for young fishers to help them acquire a first second-hand vessel.

Funding will continue to be available for the permanent removal of fishing vessels. Aid will be granted for the replacement of engines on condition that engine capacity is reduced. Aid will also continue for upgrading safety and hygiene conditions on board fishing vessels. The small-scale fishing fleet will benefit from a higher rate of support for a range of measures.

2. Aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing

EFF will continue to support the sustainable development of European aquaculture. Shellfish farmers, temporarily unable to harvest their production due to unforeseen circumstances, will be eligible for aid. The development and application of methods and practices that lessen the impact of aquaculture on the environment, the implementation of measures to promote hygiene and protect public health as well as initiatives to enhance marketing conditions of fisheries and aquaculture products will be eligible for EFF aid. The focus will be on support for small enterprises although larger enterprises may also receive funding. These objectives will also guide funding to the processing and marketing of fisheries and aquaculture products. Support for inland fisheries will be maintained and new possibilities will be offered to compensate for the temporary cessation of inland fishing activities subject to EU conservation measures and to the reassignment of inland fishing vessels to other activities.

3. Promoting collective interest

Aid will be available for projects undertaken by representatives of, or organisations from, the fisheries or aquaculture sector and which contribute to the sustainable management or conservation of fisheries resources, strengthen transparency in the market in fisheries and aquaculture products or promote partnerships between scientists and players in the fisheries sector.

Examples of such projects include: the protection and development of aquatic resources, modernisation of fishing ports and landing sites, promotion and development of new markets for fisheries and aquaculture products and pilot projects in increasing and disseminating knowledge in the protection of fisheries resources.

4. Sustainable development of fisheries areas

Depletion of fish stocks leads to reduced catches, falling income and job losses which have an impact on the fishing areas concerned which, in many cases, have few alternative sources of employment. This is why the EFF will play a greater role in helping the areas concerned lessen their economic dependence on the catching sector.

Informed by the LEADER and PESCA Initiatives and driven by a bottom-up approach, EFF funding will promote the development of measures designed to address the specific development needs of the fishing areas concerned. Aid will be available to people employed either in the fisheries sector or in fisheries related businesses. Projects promoting the role of women in fishing communities will be encouraged.

5. Technical assistance to facilitate the delivery of assistance

A small share of the EFF budget has been set aside to cover actions undertaken by Member States and the Commission for the preparation and the management of EFF programmes. This may take the form of studies, reports as well as information promotion and networking activities.

How is the environmental dimension integrated in the EFF?

The EFF contributes to the environmental dimension of sustainable fisheries in several ways. Aid which increases fishing pressure is no longer provided. Instead, the EFF will finance measures that protect the marine resources and the environment and help halt the degradation of marine ecosystems.

It will promote more selective and environmentally-friendly fishing methods. It will also support organic aquaculture, help fishing farms located in Natura 2000 protected areas and finance measures for the protection of aquatic fauna and flora. It can also address some of the challenges of environmental degradation in fisheries regions.

What are the objectives and the means with regard to the new priority “sustainable development of fisheries areas”?

The sustainable development of fisheries areas is a new priority in the EFF. The aim is to help fisheries dependent areas, which have been hit particularly hard by the shortage of fish resources and the necessary restructuring of the sector, to diversify their activities.

Through a bottom up and decentralised approach, local players who know best the particularities and the potential of their own area will take the lead and participate in the decision-making and the implementation of the development strategy best suited for their area

To which extent will the EFF support the measures proposed in the Commission Communication on “improving the economic situation in the fishing industry” Com (2006) 103?

The above Communication invites Member States to make the best use of the EFF and EU instruments to improve the economic situation of the fishing industry in the short and long term. The Fund contribution will help fund fishing enterprises in serious economic difficulties, which are eligible to state aid in accordance with EU competition rules under the “rescue and restructuring plans”.

Vessels subject to such plans may benefit from the range of measures available under the EFF. In addition, the Fund can co-finance the change of engine for large trawlers subject to the above plans, provided the capacity of the new engine is decreased and that the vessels switch to less fuel intensive fishing methods. The EFF may also compensate fishers and vessel owner for the temporary cessation of their activities during the period of modernisation work on board vessels subject to a “rescue and restructuring plan”.

What is the global financial allocation for the EFF and how is it determined?

According to the new Financial framework for 2007-2013 approved by the European Council in December 2005, the total EFF budget amounts to € 3.849 Million (2004 prices) of which € 2.908 Million will go to the Convergence areas and € 941 Million to the non-Convergence areas.

See IP/06/793

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