Commission adopts new Regulation for fisheries sector – Fishupdate.com

Commission adopts new Regulation for fisheries sector Published:  24 July, 2007

THE European Commission has today adopted a Commission Regulation increasing the ceiling of the so-called ‘de minimis’ aid to the fisheries sector.

De minimis aid is aid deemed not to distort competition. Under the new Regulation, the ceiling will be set at €30,000 per three-year period, per beneficiary, on condition that the total amount of such aid represents less than 2.5% of the annual national fisheries output. None of this aid may be used to purchase or construct new vessels or to enhance existing fleet capacity. Member States will have to record all relevant information to show that these conditions have been respected.

Exemption from prior notification to the Commission for state aid is currently governed by a regulation, which set the ceiling at €3,000 per beneficiary, over a period of three years. This level was set very low as at the time of its introduction in 2004 as the Commission did not have any previous experience of such aid in the fisheries sector. In light of the knowledge gained since then, the Commission believes that a higher level can be permitted without distorting competition.

In the fishing industry, the catching sector remains the dominant one and is likely to be the main recipient of de minimis aid. The previous ceiling of €3,000 was very low, given the high capital value of average EU fishing firms.

The Common Fisheries Policy aims to reach a better balance between the fishing fleet capacity and the pressure exerted by fishing effort on the one hand and available fisheries resources, on the other. These are estimated to be still beyond what the fish stocks can safely withstand. The provisions of the new Regulation will, therefore, not apply to any aid that would risk increasing fleet capacity such as for the purchase, construction or modernisation of fishing vessels.

This new regulation has been the subject of extensive consultation with stakeholders and Member States since it was first proposed in June 2006, and the provisions it contains are in line with the general conditions for de minimis aid as updated by the Commission in December 2006.

www.fishupdate.com is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.