On 12-13 October, 300 policymakers and other representatives from the fisheries and maritime sectors met in Tallinn at a conference co-organised by the European Commission and the Estonian Presidency.
They discussed the challenges facing coastal communities as well as potential policy responses. They looked at EU financial support for coastal communities, in particular the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Participants also discussed whether and how to adapt the EU's support for the blue economy in the years after 2020.
European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Karmenu Vella, said: "Whether it's tackling climate change, promoting the sustainable use of natural resources or creating well-paid local jobs, coastal communities are on the frontline of many 21st century challenges. They deserve our continued support. Our goal remains the same: making fisheries more sustainable and embracing the opportunities offered by blue growth."
With a total budget of EUR 6.5 billion for 2014-2020, the EMFF helps fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing, supports coastal communities in diversifying their economies, and finances projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts. To date, the EMFF has helped to mobilise more than EUR 1 billion of public and private investment. By the end of last year, nearly 6 500 projects had been selected for financing. More than half of them are designed to help SMEs in fisheries and aquaculture become more competitive, while more than a third are also designed to preserve and protect the marine environment and to promote resource efficiency. In addition, the Commission has disbursed more than 250 million euros for projects supporting blue growth.
Climate change, sustainable fisheries, and the blue economy were also among some of the topics discussed at the EU-hosted Our Ocean conference in Malta earlier this month, where participants pledged more than EUR 7 billion to solve some of the most pressing issues facing the world's oceans today.