On Monday, 17th, and Tuesday, 18th of July, the fisheries ministers of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU met in Vigo, Galicia, Spain, to define the common points that the different member states consider necessary to advance in the process of decarbonization of the community fisheries and aquaculture sector.
With the goal in mind, significant progress was made in the strategy for decarbonizing the fisheries and aquaculture sector during the informal meetings held at the Palacio de Congresos de Mar de Vigo. Additionally, discussions focused on analyzing the necessary investments to enhance sustainability in the sector.
At the end of the meeting, Luis Planas, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, appeared to explain the conclusions of the meeting. Thus, according to Planas' own words "[This meeting] has been a great opportunity to exchange ideas and draw conclusions that will benefit the sector and help us move towards climate neutrality in 2050". Furthermore, at the end of his appearance, the Spanish minister also highlighted the importance of rethinking how fishing should be in the 21st century, a key sector to ensure food security in the EU. Ambitious objectives that are nevertheless realistic with the EU's plans.
The final idea of the event is to review the current tools and regulations. On the one hand, the definition of fishing capacity is in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) regulation. On the other hand, there is concern about the limitations of the European Maritime Fund for Fisheries and Aquaculture (EMFF). Moreover, specifically for the latter, it would propose the creation of an emergency fund to speed up the energy transition due to the insufficiency of the EMFF in necessary investments.
Among the measures outlined in the strategy, Planas has a crucial gap in funding. Specifically, Planas explained that the lines of public investment to renew the fishing fleet with more energy-efficient vessels were essential. A reality that would make the EU grow both in innovation and technological development in the shipbuilding industry.
"It is not a question of today for tomorrow. We are starting a process that will take time to complete, but I think it is important to open the debate and break the taboo that there can be no financing [in shipbuilding]," Planas noted.
Nevertheless, Sinkevicius emphasized the existence of numerous research and technological innovation opportunities. He dismissed the idea of creating a "new European fund" to support this transition and encouraged private entities to supplement the sector's ongoing efforts.
As a result, although the proposal does not include a new source of financing, a change of approach is proposed. Specifically, the idea is to review the limitations imposed on the capacity and power of vessels in the European fishing fleet. Among the measures proposed by Sinkevicius is using environmentally friendly fuels, as it is a viable alternative in the short term for the fishing sector.