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Supporting sustainability at sea: EU Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund

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By Milthon Lujan

A total of €6.1 billion will be allocated to sustainable fisheries and safeguarding fishing communities between 2021 and 2027.

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In July 2021, MEPs approved the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) and how it should be spent as part of the EU’s budget for 2021-27.

€5.3 billion will be allocated to the management of fisheries, aquaculture and fishing fleets. The rest will fund scientific advice, controls and checks, market intelligence and maritime surveillance and security.

The EMFAF is aligned with the Common Fisheries Policy, which sets rules for sustainably managing European fishing fleets and conserving fish stocks. In March 2021, Parliament agreed its position on the reform of fisheries control system. MEPs want compulsory on-board CCTV security cameras on some larger vessels, new measures to address loss of fishing gear and better traceability throughout the whole food chain, including for processed and imported products.

Support for fishing communities

Many fishing communities were hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic and the EMFAF will provide compensation for fishermen whose activities cease permanently or temporarily. The EMFAF makes specific allocations to support young fishermen (under 40) who register a boat in the EU fishing fleet for the first time. Member states with outermost regions will have to prepare an action plan to make sure those fishing communities are fully supported as they are often the most vulnerable.

Sustainable seas and oceans

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30% of the funds should be dedicated to climate action in line with the Green Deal. The proposal also takes the EU’s international commitments for safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans into account.

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The fund will contribute to clean and healthy seas and oceans through support for the collection of lost fishing gear and marine litter. Plastic waste is increasingly polluting the oceans and according to one estimation, by 2050 the oceans could contain more plastic than fish by weight. Plastics is one of the seven areas considered as crucial by the European Commission to achieving a circular economy in the EU by 2050. The European Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy aims to phase out the use of microplastics.

Source: European Parliament

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