EU Fishing Industry Seeks to Secure Fish Supply

The Association of National Organizations of Fishing Enterprises in the European Union (Europêche) has presented to European authorities a list of critical measures that must be taken to mitigate the current operational, commercial, and safety problems the sector has been experiencing due to the protective measures taken against the spread of COVID-19.

The primary concern of the association is the continuity of fishing activities and food supply to EU citizens. Measures are also needed for those vessels forced to cease operations.

In a position paper sent to EU decision-makers the association notes severe operational problems such as port and equipment supply restrictions, logistical difficulties, and soaring freight prices on shipments of fish. The association also notes the collapse in wholesale prices, largely due to the closure of restaurants, schools, businesses and food markets and limits on travel and tourism.

Europêche is asking for legislative changes to enable fishermen to carry over more than the existing 10 percent of their fishing quotas to next year and for fair intervention prices for unsold fish. The association is also calling for logistical help including the transport of crews, equipment, health protocols tailored to each fleet and guaranteeing the supply of masks and gloves both to ships and to fish markets or fish auction halls.

Europêche also urges policy-makers to provide financial aid for those fishing companies that are forced to cease their operations, and asks Member States to reduce VAT and suspend social security contributions and tax exemptions.

The organization also asks to extend the Brexit transition period for another 12 months at least, recognizing that such decision depends on agreement by the UK.