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Gildernew launches consultation on European Fisheries Fund

6 May, 2008


Sinn Féin Fisheries Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA today launched a consultation on the Investment Plan for the European Fisheries Fund (EFF).

In launching the consultation, the Minister said:

"The draft Investment Plan sets out the priorities for funding that I believe can deliver a sustainable future for our fishing industry. The €18million provided by the European Commission will be matched by DARD and we welcome the views of stakeholders on how this money should be spent over the next six years."

The Minister referred to her recent statement in the Assembly and expressed optimism that the Fund could be used to address the current difficulties being faced by the local fishing fleet.

She said:

"I am fully aware, from the many representations that have been made to me, of the pressures due to rising fuel prices and other operating costs. In addition to the measures I announced in the Assembly, to assist with vessel monitoring costs, increase the number of days at sea, and more flexible vessel licensing rules, the European Fisheries Fund will provide funding for the long term solutions to the underlying problems facing the industry. I hope that fishermen will work in partnership with us and other stakeholders to put the industry into a position where it can invest with confidence in its future.

"I look forward to hearing the views of all marine stakeholders on the Investment Plan and these will be carefully considered. My officials will be working hard over the summer to finalise the Investment Plan and to prepare for opening of the Fund later this year." ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. On 27 July 2006 a new European Fisheries Fund (EFF) was approved by EC Regulation 1198/2006 to replace the current fishery grants programme under the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). The North of Ireland has been allocated an €18million share of the EFF. This will be matched by a DARD grant, representing a total investment of €36million in the local fishing industry.

2. The EFF will until 2013, with a total budget of around € 3.8billion. Funding will be available for all sectors of the industry - sea and inland fisheries, aquaculture businesses, producer organisations, and the processing and marketing sectors - as well as for fisheries areas. It is a matter for Member States to decide how they allocate funds between the different priorities set. The Fund will particularly focus on:

  • supporting the major objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), particularly those agreed during the reform of the policy in 2002. This includes in particular the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and achieving a stable balance between these resources and the capacity of community fishing fleet;
  • strengthening the competitiveness and the viability of operators in the sector;
  • promoting environmentally-friendly fishing and production methods;
  • providing adequate support to people employed in the sector; and
  • fostering the sustainable development of fisheries areas.

3. Under the Commission's rules the EU grant must be matched by public expenditure. Funding will be available for all sectors - sea and inland fisheries, aquaculture businesses, producer organisations, processing and marketing businesses - as well as for fisheries community areas. Some of the initiatives will require EU and national grant to be supplemented by private sector investment.

4. The consultation on the North's Investment Plan was launched on 2nd May and will run until 27th June. A copy of the document, along with the draft UK Operational Programme, has been sent to all local marine stakeholders. A number of public meetings have been planned to allow stakeholders the opportunity to discuss the EFF and the Investment Plan with Fisheries officials.

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