EMFF agreement reached

Maria Damanaki says that she is happy that the fund will focus on promoting a sustainable future for the fishing industry and coastal communities Maria Damanaki says that she is happy that the fund will focus on promoting a sustainable future for the fishing industry and coastal communities

Political agreement on the 2014-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) has been reached.

"This was the final chapter of the negotiations. With the political agreement reached tonight we will have an ambitious European Maritime and Fisheries Fund for 2014-2020. This is a real victory for the European Parliament, which was heeded by the Council and the Commission," said rapporteur Alain Cadec on Tuesday.

MEPs have decided that €520 million - a considerable increase over the original Commission proposal - of the €6.5 billion EMFF budget will be spent on data collection, to improve the data needed to set the Maximum Sustainable Yield required by the new CFP.

The EMFF will help fishermen to comply with the new rules by supporting investments in more selective fishing gear or equipment to facilitate handling, landing and storage of unwanted catches. EMFF aid will also be used to improve safety and working conditions, and port infrastructure.

Each member state with a significant small-scale coastal fishing fleet will be required to table an action plan setting out a strategy for the development, competitiveness and sustainability of these fisheries.

Fishermen under 40 years old will be granted up to €75,000 in individual start-up support if they buy a small-scale and coastal fishing vessel between five and 30 years old and have five years' professional experience in the sector

The subject of engine renewal subsidies is the one that many environmental groups have opposed, but EMFF support will be given for withdrawing, replacing or modernising engines for vessels up to 24m long, including a requirement for those of 12-24m that the new engine's power output be less than that of the engine it replaces. An amendment to reintroduce fleet renewal subsidies was rejected.

European Commissioner Maria Damanaki has welcomed the agreement, but environmental groups Greenpeace, WWF, Oceana, the Pew Charitable Trusts and Seas at Risk have all expressed their fears that subsidies for engine modernisation could hamper efforts to reduce fishing capacity and end overfishing.

The agreement will now be put to a vote in the Fisheries Committee before seeking final approval by the full House in April.

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