The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) is the new funding instrument for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the EU. The EMFF will fund the EU’s maritime and fisheries policies for 2014-2020 and as a result will have a pivotal influence on the status of the marine environment over the coming years.

The total EU EMFF allocation for Ireland (2014-2020) from the EU is 147.6 million which will be co-financed along with national funding.

• Each country is allocated a share of the total Fund budget, based on the size of its fishing industry.
• Each country then draws up an operational programme, saying how it intends to spend the money.
• Once the Commission approves this programme, it is up to the national authorities to decide which projects will be funded.
• The national authorities and the Commission are jointly responsible for the implementation of the programme.

The EMFF is one of the five European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds which aim to complement each other in achieving the long-term objectives of the Europe 2020 strategy for a smart, sustainable and inclusive growth over the 2014-2020 period. In order for Ireland to access the funding available from the EMFF they must go through a complicated integrated framework. Ireland has submitted their SWOT analysis and the Environmental Pillar’sMarine Working Group commented on this during its public consultation. Ireland along with 10 other member states have yet to submit their operational programme and SEA to the commission and an ex-ante evaluation on certain key areasDocuments will go out to public consultation in 2015 although at this point we don’t know when the consultation will be or for how long, but expect it to be announced shortly.

The broad objectives of the EMFF are structured around six Union Priorities. These six priorities (Outlined below) are overarching and as such very broad. Of more significance to us are the specific objectives and sub-objectives which support the Union Priorities. Ireland is obliged to meet the requirements of the specific objectives in their EMFF operational programme. Anyone wishing to make a submission on the EMFF should familiarise themselves with the specific objectives in Article 6 of the EMFF Regulation and use them tohighlight to the Commission areas where we believe Ireland is not meeting its obligations, and how they could be met given the prescribed measures in the Regulation for EMFF funding. Given the amount of funding at risk we have considerable leverage to pressurise the Government to deliver a more sustainable maritime and fisheries policy. Ideally any point should make specific reference to the relevant union priorities, specific objectives and their required measures.

For each Union priority, Article 6 sets out the following specific objectives:

Union priorities

The EMFF shall contribute to the Europe 2020 strategy and to the implementation of CFP. It shall pursue the following Union priorities for the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture and related activities, which reflect the relevant thematic objectives referred to in Regulation (EU) No 1303/2013:

(1) Promoting environmentally sustainable, resource–efficient, innovative, competitive and knowledge–based fisheries by pursuing the following specific objectives:

(a) the reduction of the impact of fisheries on the marine environment, including the avoidance and reduction, as far as possible, of unwanted catches;

(b) the protection and restoration of aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems;

(c) the ensuring of a balance between fishing capacity and available fishing opportunities;

(d) the enhancement of the competitiveness and viability of fisheries enterprises, including of small–scale coastal fleet, and the improvement of safety and working conditions;

(e) the provision of support to strengthen technological development and innovation, including increasing energy efficiency, and knowledge transfer;

(f) the development of professional training, new professional skills and lifelong learning.

(2)Fostering environmentally sustainable, resource-efficient, innovative, competitive and knowledge-based aquaculture by pursuing the following specific objectives:

(a) the provision of support to strengthen technological development, innovation and knowledge transfer;

(b) the enhancement of the competitiveness and viability of aquaculture enterprises, including the improvement of safety and working conditions, in particular of SMEs;

(c) the protection and restoration of aquatic biodiversity and the enhancement of ecosystems related to aquaculture and the promotion of resource-efficient aquaculture;

(d) the promotion of aquaculture having a high level of environmental protection, and the promotion of animal health and welfare and of public health and safety;

(e)the development of professional training, new professional skills and lifelong learning

(3) Fostering the implementation of the CFP by pursuing the following specific objectives:

(a) the improvement and supply of scientific knowledge as well as the improvement of the collection and management of data;

(b)the provision of support to monitoring, control and enforcement, thereby enhancing institutional capacity and the efficiency of public administration, without increasing the administrative burden.

(4) Increasing employment and territorial cohesion by pursuing the following specific objective: the promotion of economic growth, social inclusion and job creation, and providing support to employability and labour mobility in coastal and inland communities which depend on fishing and aquaculture, including the diversification of activities within fisheries and into other sectors of maritime economy.

(5) Fostering marketing and processing by pursuing the following specific objectives:

(a) the improvement of market organisation for fishery and aquaculture products;

(b) the encouragement of investment in the processing and marketing sectors.

(6) Fostering the implementation of the IMP