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PRESS RELEASE BY THE MINISTRY FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND ANIMAL RIGHTS The impact of coronavirus on agriculture and fisheries discussed during high-level video conference by EU agriculture and fisheries ministers


While business seems to be continuing as usual in the fisheries sector, the current reality is not what it may seem. The current pandemic is strongly affecting the work being carried out by the relevant authorities, a matter which was discussed in a high-level video conference by EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers.


The conference, which was hosted by the Croatian Presidency, discussed a number of matters and actions which should be taken in these extraordinary circumstances, including a proposal for the modification of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund regulation to support fisherman especially small scale fisheries that comprises the majority of the Maltese fishing fleet.


Small scale fishing fleets such as those found in Malta will be the most affected by this situation. While no quantifiable reports have been submitted of economic sufferings as yet, following the closure of restaurants and similar outlets, Malta sees the need to safeguard the livelihoods of these fishermen. For this reason, Malta believes that the European Corona Response Investment Initiative, can only be an initial reaction to the COVID-19 outbreak and that an increased effort will be required in the future by the Commission in order to counter this crisis.


This is especially the case where programme resources under the 2014-2020 envelope have already been fully committed, as is the case for Malta. In a case of disruption of activities, Malta proposed a possibility for financial assistance to compensate fishermen and operators based on the sales notes and turnovers reflecting the same period of time.


Through a collective European effort, Malta and other European countries we will overcome this unprecedented situation and guarantee the production and security of food supplies, while safeguarding jobs in the agriculture and fisheries sectors.


Furthermore, the Temporary Framework on State aid measures introduced by the European Commission should help empower the agri-food sector in these difficult times. Malta is also experiencing a very dry season and this assistance should also ease the burden for farmers.


Meanwhile, during the same meeting the growing concern in the bluefin tuna sector from fishermen to farm operators for the BFT 2020 campaign was also discussed. This included concerns for activities such as joint fishing operations and caging operations which can all be affected if the current situation remains. 


During the meeting Malta welcomed proposals to postpone or delay deadlines related to controls and the Single Application, and to decrease the obligatory number of on-the-spot-checks.