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
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.