Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister for Agriculture: Catch quotas and policy reforms should not affect the development of fisheries
On June 18 and 19, Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister for Agriculture will participate in the EU Council of Ministers for Agriculture and Fisheries in Luxembourg, where Member States will start discussions on the principles for laying down the catch quotas for 2020 as well as on the aid to fisheries in the next programming period 2021-2027.
While discussing the principles for establishing the catch quotas for 2020 which will be incorporated in respective regulations only in the autumn, Latvia will express its objections on a drastic reduction in fishing opportunities for fish species, significant for Latvia, that has been proposed in the Baltic Sea fish stock assessment, made by researchers. The scientific recommendation, prepared by the International Maritime Research Council, envisages a considerable reduction in fishing opportunities for several fish stocks. It also includes the proposal to stop cod catch in the Eastern part of the Baltic Sea next year and the proposal to considerably reduce the catch of sprats.
Kaspars Gerhards, the Minister for Agriculture: “These changes can have a negative impact on fishermen, particularly because in 2020 according to the EU regulations, the financial aid from funds for alleviation of socio-economic burden will not be available. Besides, the financing of the new period, will require some time. That is why it is essential to start these discussions and work already today on these conditions and their application to Latvian fisheries. Whereas, in the autumn of this year, upon discussing the next year quotas, it is important to make a balanced decision – also together with the European Commission, to look for a possibility to compensate a negative impact on the fisheries, and this would require changes in aid conditions of the current period.”
According to the proposal from the European Commission, the total budget of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund in 2021-2027 is planned as EUR 6,14 billion and the aid available for EU Member States is planned by 3,5 percent less than in the current period. The Romanian Presidency has prepared a compromise proposal for Regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the Presidency would like to achieve a partial general agreement on this compromise in the Council. For Latvia, it is important to ensure that the draft Regulation is advancing as quickly as possible however there are some essential questions in the compromise proposal, which Latvia would like to improve. The question of the aid for acquisition of fishing vessels, Latvia would like to apply the aid not only to young fishermen (below 40 years of age), but also to the current fishermen as well as not only to acquisition of used vessels but also to new ones, besides increasing the length of the supported vessels from 24 to 40 meters. The Ministry of Agriculture is pointing out that the current Latvian fleet can be considered as critically obsolete as well as not complying with the environmental requirements and modern working conditions. Besides, the aid for a provisional termination of fishing activities should be granted for fishermen in each case, when fishing activities are terminated as a result of emergency fish stock protection measures and not to limit these activities for a short-term all over the programing period.
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