The European Commission's 5th annual report on the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF i) includes an analysis of how EFF programmes have contributed to their original objectives set out at the beginning of the 2007-2013 programming period. The analysis uses the results of the first four years to examine to what extent EFF measures have contributed to achieving the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
The findings focus on some of most important measures under the four main axes of the EFF which include adjustment of the fleet (axis 1); aquaculture, processing and marketing, inland fishing (axis 2); measures of common interest (axis 3); and sustainable development of fisheries areas (axis 4).
-Aquaculture and the processing industry account for the majority of EFF funds earmarked under Axis 2 (around €300 million respectively). The analysis concludes that despite investments targeted at improving production capacity, overall production by the top producing countries has not necessarily increased. As far as jobs are concerned, the processing industry, which employs over 140.000 people has recorded growth of +3 %, whilst there has been more conservative growth in the aquaculture sector.
-Subsidies for scrapping represented 56 % of EFF payments under Axis 1, namely EUR 220 million according to the latest information available. The objective of scrapping is to reduce the number of fishing vessels so to adapt fishing capacity to the available resources. However, the evidence available indicates that scrapping often benefits vessels that are in economic difficulties rather than those which have the most impact on fish stocks. This is also evident by the fact that over half of all vessels that were taken out of the EU fleet register did not receive any public funding.
-The analysis also examined the effectiveness of different methods to promote energy efficiency in the fishing sector. In addition to fuel subsidies, EFF projects have included supporting changes to fishing gears and designing vessels and equipment which reduce fuel consumption. Whilst subsidies have helped in tackling the high fuel prices; fishermen have also found other ways to consume less fuel, notably through speed reduction and rationalisation of their movements. The success of such methods is evident: marine fuel prices rose by 37.5 % in 2010 compared to 2009, whilst the energy bill of the EU fishing fleet rose only by 11 % in the same period.
-Early results show that projects promoting the sustainable development of fisheries areas (axis 4) are starting to bear fruit. In 2011, an additional 1,000 projects have been selected in fisheries areas, focusing on diversifying local economies and adding value to fisheries products. This number grew further in 2012 thanks to the increase in the number of fisheries local action groups (FLAGs) supporting local beneficiaries in developing and implementing these projects.
These findings underpin many of the proposals put forward by the Commission in its legislative proposal for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). In the context of the economic crisis and the sustainability objectives of the CFP, the aim of the EMFF is to learn lessons from the past and direct public subsidies to where they will be most efficient and effective.