Strasbourg round-up: Fisheries and maritime affairs

European maritime affairs and fisheries fund rapporteur, Alain Cadec is pleased with parliament's 'victory' in the fisheries sector, while Knut Fleckenstein, S&D group shadow rapporteur on multiannual funding for the European maritime safety agency stresses the need for more 'sufficient' investment.

By Gerald Callaghan

16 Apr 2014

Alain Cadec is parliament's rapporteur on the European maritime affairs and fisheries fund (EMFF)

The maritime affairs and fisheries fund (EMFF) is the financial component of the common fisheries policy (CFP) reform. It has a budget of €6.4bn over the next programming period 2014-2020.

Parliament has achieved substantial improvements to the proposal of the European commission amending the EMFF to make it an instrument to create a sustainable and competitive fisheries industry. The budget allocated to the control and the collection of scientific data has been highly increased, as it was essential to have the means to achieve maximum sustainable yield, which is a keystone of the reform of the CFP.

"The EMFF gives the fishing sector the means to efficiently organise themselves"

The EMFF includes some radical changes including the obligation to land all catches. By enabling investment in new fishing gear it will significantly reduce discards and allow sustainable management of fish stocks.

The European parliament also supported my proposals to maintain investments in the European fishing fleet, which the commission wanted to delete.

Young fishermen under the age of 40 years will receive a financial support package to enable them to buy a fishing vessel, thereby contributing to the renewal of generations in this sector. Fishermen will also be able to invest in the replacement of engines under strict conditions, in order to improve energy efficiency and reduce the CO2 emissions of vessels. Finally, they will be compensated for temporary cessations due to conservation measures, such as fish stock recovery periods.

The EMFF gives the fishing sector the means to efficiently organise themselves, by strengthening producer organisations and supporting investments in processing and marketing of fisheries products. Parliament has achieved that storage aid be maintained until 2019.

Negotiations with the council were difficult but parliament did not give in. It is a real victory for our institution, which worked to combine conservation of resources and competitiveness of the fisheries sector.

Knut Fleckenstein is parliament's S&D group shadow on multiannual funding of the European maritime safety agency (EMSA)

The main element of the regulation on multiannual funding for the actions of the European maritime safety agency (EMSA) in the field of response to pollution, of course, is the actual amount that EMSA will receive for the period 2014-2020. 

Together with the rapporteur Keith Taylor and the other shadow rapporteurs, we wanted to ensure that EMSA has sufficient funding not only carry out its assigned tasks, but to carry them out well.

In 2013, we revised EMSA's founding regulation, in which we extended the agency's tasks quite substantially to not only cover responses caused by pollution from ships, but also responses for pollution caused by oil and gas installations. In order to fulfil this new task EMSA needs to make adjustments in several areas. The monitoring of the platforms requires an expansion of the area covered by the clean-sea net (more satellite pictures are necessary to cover the area off shipping routes). In addition, special equipment and vessels (newly leased or retrofitted) as well as trained staff is needed for combating pollution from oil and gas installations.

"It is up to the member states to fully acknowledge EMSA's added-value for maritime safety and the potential role it could be playing if provided with sufficient funding"

Last year, the commission, the council and the parliament all agreed on these new tasks. Therefore it is even more incomprehensible that we had to fight so hard against the commission and the council to get appropriate funding for EMSA covering also these new tasks. We are not talking about money that member states have to pay on top, but money that is already allocated or available within the margins.

Unfortunately, we did not manage to raise the granted amount from €160.5m to €185.5m for the period 2014-2020. However, we did achieve that the agency has to be given the appropriations necessary to fulfil its responsibilities within the limits of the financial envelope and that the commission has to conduct a midterm evaluation, followed by a budget adjustment, if appropriate.

It is up to the member states to fully acknowledge EMSA's added-value for maritime safety and the potential role it could be playing if provided with sufficient funding. After all it is in our interests that the agency does not just perform the bare minimum, but is actually able to actively prevent pollution and able assist member states quickly in case of emergency.

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