€600m set aside for fishermen hit by EU reforms


The European Commission is to set aside more than €600 million over the next three years to help fishermen whose incomes will be hit by a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The money will help fishermen to reduce fleets, which the Commission believes is necessary to prevent overfishing of depleted stocks such as cod and hake.

The financial package would favour small-scale fishermen, who represent half of those involved in the European fishing industry. It would encourage fishermen to operate closer to the coast and would help them to combine fishing with other economic activities.

The Agriculture and Fisheries Commissioner, Mr Franz Fischler, acknowledged yesterday that reform of the CFP could hit the incomes of some fishermen. But he insisted that action was needed now to tackle stock depletion in order to secure the future of fishing.

"We have a moral obligation to do all in our power to avoid the disappearance of the fisheries resources, on which fishermen and their families depend. This action plan also shows that we will not let them face the social consequences of stock-depletion on their own. Substantial EU funds are available, but member-states must make use of them," Mr Fischler said.

Stocks of cod in northern European waters are at their lowest recorded levels and the Commission has called for urgent action to curb fishing activity.

Mr Fischler said that, although there would be social costs in cutting back fishing, the impact of postponing the measures would be even greater. "What is clear is that more jobs will be lost if we don't do anything."