Scotland’s fishermen and fishing communities are set to benefit from the new European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF).
The EMFF will deliver help for both inshore and offshore fleets and the aquaculture sector to adapt to new circumstances, expand and create new jobs and promote fisheries conservation.
Following negotiations which went on until the early hours of Tuesday morning in Luxembourg, agreement was reached between the 27 Member States on the shape of the new scheme, which will replace the existing European Fisheries Fund (EFF).
Speaking immediately after the EU Council concluded, Scotland’s Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “The European Fisheries Fund is extremely important to Scotland, so it was vital to ensure similar support continues to be available when it is replaced by the EMFF.
“This morning’s agreement ensures the seafood industry, inshore and offshore fleets and the aquaculture sector can continue to use the fund in its new form to expand and create new jobs - and of course adapt to deliver new CFP proposals currently under negotiation, which tackle key issues such as discards.
“I am also pleased restrictions have been put in place to close the loopholes that allowed funding from previous schemes to be used by some in ways which went against the principles of fisheries conservation.
“Now the taxpayer can be sure public money will be used to promote fisheries conservation, not undermine it.
“We fought hard to make sure the fund retains measures we have previously used with great success in Scotland, including those which help protect and provide support to our fragile fishing communities.
“Now we have successfully negotiated the shape of the fund it is absolutely critical the budget that will deliver it is not subjected to a cut when the key EU budget negotiations take place later in the year.”
Meanwhile, Peterhead councillor and member of the North-east Scotland Fisheries Development partnership, Stephen Smith said: “The current European Fisheries Fund, which comes to an end next year, has been enormously important to the North-east in delivering grant aid to promote the industry and conservation and protect jobs.
“I am delighted that Richard Lochhead has come back from the fisheries talks with a framework for a new replacement scheme which ensures funding will continue to be available to create jobs and support our coastal communities.
“It’s very good news for Peterhead.”
The current EFF runs from 2007 to 2013., with the new EMFF running from 2014 to 2020.