The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is the fund for the EU's maritime and fisheries policies for 2014-2020. The fund helps fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing; supports coastal communities in diversifying their economies; finances projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts; supports sustainable aquaculture developments and makes it easier for applicants to access financing.
Ireland's Operational Programme (OP) supported by the EMFF in Ireland aims at achieving key national development priorities along with the EU's "Europe 2020" objectives. The OP will support the general reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the development of its Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) in Ireland.
The Marine Institute, as the Specified Public Beneficiary Body, is implementing three schemes under the EMFF 2014-2020:
Main Objectives of Ireland's Operational Programme
The OP strategy is designed around the Irish national priorities in the agri-food sector: 'Act Smart' by encouraging knowledge and innovation, 'Think Green' through a responsible and sustainable use of resources, 'Achieve Growth' in order to maintain and create jobs.
Funding aims at increasing the competitiveness of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors through innovation and skills, while promoting a more efficient and sustainable use of resources. Funding will also help local coastal communities to improve their livelihood by supporting small-scale fisheries and through significantly increased support for Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs).
Due to its geographical position, Ireland has major responsibilities in enforcing the rules of the CFP, but also in providing sound data for the management of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. The EMFF support will help Ireland to fulfil its obligations and better achieve these challenges.
Funds will also be used to improve the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies in the marketing and processing sectors, through investments to reduce energy costs; and to improve safety, product quality and traceability. Compared to the past, a greater focus is put on the sustainable use of resources, marine knowledge and preserving marine biodiversity, local-led development of fisheries and aquaculture areas, and shifting towards a low-carbon economy.
The Irish OP is organised around the following priorities:
- Union Priority 1 (UP1): €67 million (28% of the total allocation) aim at assuring the sustainable development of fishing activities, while protecting the marine environment. The OP will help Ireland to adjust fleet capacity to available resources and support the Irish fishing fleet in tackling the obligation to land all catches, also through investments in port infrastructures.
- Union Priority 2 (UP2): €30 million (12% of the total allocation) will support the Irish National Strategic Plan for Aquaculture that aims at boosting the competitiveness of the aquaculture sector. Support will go towards three main areas: sustainable aquaculture production; knowledge, innovation and new technology; and more effective governance of marine planning.
- Union Priority 3 (UP3): €84.8 million (35.4% of the total allocation) will go towards compliance with CFP rules regarding control and data collection. Funding will be used to further develop risk-based inspection of fishing activities and enhance cooperation with other Member States to ensure effective fisheries control and inspection in Ireland and at EU level. EMFF funding will also ensure a more efficient data collection and management, by improving scientific assessment of stocks and the knowledge on the state of the marine environment at sea.
- Union Priority 4 (UP4): €12 million (5% of the total allocation) will support local development initiatives — a substantial, eleven-fold increase compared to the 2007-2013 funding period. EMFF funds will create and maintain jobs in fisheries and aquaculture areas and strengthen the role of the small-scale fisheries sector in the development of local communities.
- Union Priority 5 (UP5): €33 million (13.8% of the total allocation) will go towards creating scale in the Irish marketing and processing sectors, starting from the base of very small-scale businesses. Funds will also go to developing new products from underutilised/non-commercial species.
- Union Priority 6 (UP6): €10.6 million (4% of the total allocation) will be used on measures to improve the knowledge on the state of the marine environment and the level of protection of marine areas, through collection and harmonisation of marine data and development of marine spatial planning capacities.
- €0.8 million (0.3% of the total allocation) is allocated to technical assistance in order to reinforce implementation and ensure efficient administration of the EU funding.
Ireland's OP budget is €239,265,133 consisting of an EU contribution of €147,601,979 under the EMFF, with a further €91,663,154 from the Irish exchequer.