The European Commission presents its new fund for maritime affairs and fisheries

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) will be launched for the new 2014-2020 programming

The Fund will help deliver the ambitious objectives of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and will help fishermen in the transition towards sustainable fishing, as well as coastal communities in the diversification of their economies. The fund will finance projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts. Red tape will be cut so that beneficiaries have easy access to financing.

This new fund will replace the existing European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and a number of other instruments. The proposed envelope amounts to € 6.5 billion for the period 2014 to 2020.

Underpinning the environmental, economic and social principles of the Common Fisheries Policy reform
The EMFF will be a fundamental instrument for the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy that the Commission proposed in July. The transition to sustainability requires some radical changes in the way we fish – and the fund will give fishermen the incentive they need, so that fishing can be less damaging to marine ecosystems, overexploitation can be stopped and the decline of fish stocks can be reversed.

As we relieve pressure on the stocks and leave them time to recover, the communities depending on fishing will need to find alternative sources of income. The EMFF will help them find innovative ways to add value to their catches and diversify their economy.

But the EMFF is not just a catalyst for the transition to sustainability and good economic performance. It is also a vehicle to deliver the Commission’s social agenda. Spouses often play a fundamental role in the family fishing business. Now they will be able to get support for training or other economic activities related to fishing. Producers’ Organisations will be helped to plan production to satisfy market demands and to market their products in a way that meets the expectations of an increasingly discerning public.

Smart, green fisheries
Despite the 1.7 billion EUR spent on scrapping since the 1990s, the EU fleet still suffers from overcapacity, as the decommissioning of vessels was offset by the technological upgrade of the remaining fleet. Therefore, money will not go to scrapping anymore and the money will be deployed towards economically and socially productive activities. Diversification is one of them. Encouraging bottom-up initiatives has so far produced excellent results in areas connected to fishing, such as processing, catering or tourism. The EMFF will reinforce this kind of community-led innovation. As small-scale coastal fleets remain the lifeblood of the economy of many coastal communities, the aid to support them will be intensified.

The new fund will also support innovative projects such as replacing fishing nets with more selective gear in order to reduce discards, or the development of new technologies that could lower the impact of fishing and fish-farming on the environment.

Smart, green aquaculture
Fish farming carries a huge potential to reduce our dependence on imports. It provides high-quality jobs in rural areas and puts healthy food on European dinner tables. The fund will strive to boost this industry in a sustainable manner, rewarding innovation and promoting also new strands of aquaculture, such as non-food aquaculture.

Support the partnership of science and fishermen
Having the proper data on the state of fish stocks and the marine environment in general plays a key role in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and the EMFF will give sufficient funds for data collection, monitoring and control. As it does not make sense that those working on the sea (the fishermen) and those studying the sea (the scientists) should live in separate worlds, the EMFF will encourage them to work in tandem to find ways to exploit natural resources in a sustainable manner.

A single fund for fisheries and the Integrated Maritime Policy
The 2007 EU Integrated Maritime Policy interconnects maritime sectors which have historically been compartmentalised and managed in isolation. The EMFF will provide support for projects such as maritime spatial planning, integrated maritime surveillance and marine knowledge. These are examples where integration can help avoid duplications and reduce costs through greater cooperation and coordination across sectors. Including the Maritime Policy into the EMFF will ensure greater coherence and help deliver synergies between the two policy strands.

The rules governing the EMFF will be harmonised with those for other EU funds. This will make life easier for both beneficiaries and national authorities. The EMFF will be part of the new Common Strategic Framework, which will ensure that all the various existing EU funds work consistently with each other, avoiding overlaps or duplications.

How the Fund works
The new Fund will be used to co-finance projects with Member states. The total budget will be allocated to the Member States based on the importance of the fisheries sector in each country. Then the principles of shared-management between the Commission and the Member States will apply. Each Member State draws up an operational programme for the period, specifying how they intend to spend the money allocated to them. Once the Commission approves this programme, it is up to the Member state to decide the actual projects to be financed. Both the eligibility of the actions to support and the implementation of the programme are monitored by the Member States and the Commission.

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