Supporting the EU fisheries and aquaculture sectors in tackling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the European Commission has proposed a new set of ambitious measures under the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
The package includes support for the temporary cessation of fishing activities due to coronavirus, support to aquaculture farmers for the suspension of production and additional costs, and support to producer organisations for the storage of fishery and aquaculture products. Additional amendments to the EMFF Regulation allow for more flexible reallocation of financial resources within the operational programmes of each Member State and a simplified procedure for amending operational programmes with respect to the introduction of the new measures.
Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “Europe’s fishermen and aquaculture farmers are used to fighting the elements. But the coronavirus is a different kind of storm. The Commission therefore proposes a range of targeted actions addressing the urgent challenges that our seafood community faces. These measures will help protecting thousands of jobs in the EU’s coastal regions and maintaining food security.”
With fishers forced to stay in port and fish farmers facing the prospect of having to dispose of unused products, these temporary and targeted measures will serve to provide immediate aid during this difficult situation. The Commission has also acted with a view to fostering greater market stability, mitigating the risk of having high-value seafood products wasted or redirected to non-human food purposes, and helping to absorb the impact of the crisis on the return on products.
Provided that the Commission proposal is adopted by the Council and the European Parliament without amendments, expenditure for operations supported under the specific coronavirus-related measures will be retroactively eligible as of 1 February 2020 until 31 December 2020. The supported operations must comply with the eligibility conditions established in the regulation. Therefore, Member States can already start selecting and supporting these operations.