Ashworth supports calls for EU aid to storm hit fishermen

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East England, has added his
name to a campaign by UK Conservatives in the European Parliament to
persuade the European Commission to compensate hundreds of British
fishermen, who have not been able to fish since December due to the
relentless storm conditions which have prevented them from going to sea.

These fishermen were finally able to return to the sea only last
weekend after almost two months of inactivity. UK Conservatives have
told the European Commission that the inshore fleets, particularly in
the South and South West of England and along the Welsh coast, where
most fishing activity involves day boats, have been severely impacted.
But many fishing communities around the entire UK have also been

Fishermen have faced the choice of risking their lives by putting to
sea in life-threatening conditions, or not having enough money to pay
their bills and feed their families.

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East England said, “there
are now signs of increasing hardship and stress and even the
Fishermen’s Mission has launched an urgent appeal for aid.”

“Many of the small scale (under 10 metre) fleet in these affected areas
have had no income whatsoever since before Christmas. The extreme
weather conditions involving violent storms and excessively high tides
have also caused severe damage to harbours, ports, infrastructure, sea
defences, vessels, static fishing gear and even shingle beaches. The
situation is dire and urgent help is needed.”

Maria Damanaki the EU Commissioner for fisheries, explained that under
the current European Fisheries Fund (EFF), assistance can be available
to help fishermen replace lost or damaged gear, so long as the new gear
is more selective. In addition, as per art 25(7) of the EFF Regulation,
the new gear needs to meet recognised environmental criteria and
practices which go beyond regulatory obligations under EU Law.

The European Commission also stated that the recently agreed European
Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) may co-finance mutual funds for
fisherman, to allow them to finance special insurance schemes to
compensate income losses in cases of adverse climatic conditions. As
for fishermen losing their fishing gear due to adverse climactic
conditions (e.g. storms), the EMFF may support the purchase of new more
selective gear.

According to the Common Provisions Regulation, expenditure under the
EMFF is eligible as of 01/01/2014 even if the Operational Programme
(OP) is not adopted, provided it will then be covered by the
corresponding measure under the new OP. The EMFF Operational Programme
for the UK will also be managed in the UK by the Marine Management

The EU’s state aid rules for the fisheries sector also allows for
certain national schemes to support these types of losses incurred by
fishermen and other professionals in the sector as a result of adverse
meteorological conditions. For example, the UK government could apply
for emergency assistance under the European Union Solidarity Fund
(EUSF), which provides financial aid in case of major natural disasters
(and major destruction/losses) at Member State level.

Richard Ashworth Conservative MEP for South East England said “There
are a number of ways in which fishermen hit hard by the recent storms
can get help, as well as schemes through which they can get financial
aid to insure against similar future disasters. I do hope that all of
the relevant authorities will cooperate to get assistance to the places
where it most needed without delay.”