As Brexit nears, EU airs bigger, €6.4Bn fisheries fund

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The UK —  and Scotland above all — stands to lose out on an enlarged and liberalized European Union action fund for fisheries which has hitherto mostly been used on seafood projects claiming environmental or regional development benefits.

Though three years distant, Brussels this week released its proposed budget for 2021-2027, just as Scotland and England wrestle with what there is to salvage from a Brexit deal to take the UK out of the EU.

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Europe’s budget now includes a new EUR 6.4 billion European Maritime Fisheries Fund proposed “to meet the obligations imposed on (seafood players) by the Common Fisheries Policy,” a statement by the EU’s budget working group said on Thursday. The current fund for 2014-2020 stands at EUR 5.7 billion, and Scotland has benefited.

Millions more
Fisheries Fund allotments — partly matched and distributed by national authorities — have helped build seafood processors and aquaculture infrastructure. Interestingly, Ireland’s aquaculture-interested have used the cash to learn about recirculated aquaculture systems, or RAS, at programs hosted in the EU.

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While the current fund allotments favour those with a “green” aspect to their fisheries projects, the EU says the Fisheries Fund allocations to come will me more “liberal”. The focus, if any, will be “projects that create jobs”.

Less-focused fund
“The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund supports the implementation of operational programmes set out by Member States, measures to support fisheries, aquaculture and community-led local development, processing and marketing, compensation for the outermost regions, control and data collection activities as well as the Integrated Maritime Policy,” the trading bloc’s budget writers said.

Apart from those projects it oversees to “control” the direction of European fisheries, the bloc maintains the numbers of projects given help was 15,500, although about 60 percent of these in 2017 were individual fishing boats receiving grants.