Cyprus

Theodoulos Demetriou © European Union, 2020

Theodoulos Demetriou © European Union, 2020

This is Theodoulos Demetriou, a fisherman from Limassol on Cyprus’ southern coast. Due to coronavirus measures, he and other fishermen had to temporarily stop fishing.

However, thanks to EU measures, Theodoulos received around €1,000 per month to weather the storm. He is positive about the recovery, both for the businesses and for nature.

“I love the sea and I can’t wait for the day that I will go back to work. We hope that the temporary halt to fishing will help increase the fish stocks. I am also hopeful that in the near future, tourists will come again, we will sell our fish and overcome the crisis.”

© European Union, 2020

Antonis Kimonides © European Union, 2020

Antonis Kimonides is the owner of Cyprus’ first aquaculture unit, which means he farms fish under controlled conditions. The pandemic caused big difficulties for his business.

When planes ground to a halt, so did Antonis’ international market. This was extremely tough as 85% of his products are exported, mostly by air. But he too is positive that EU support can help get the industry back on its feet.

“For several years now our company has benefited from the EU Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and we are very grateful for that help. We are fighters! Together with the EU, we hope to be able to overcome this pandemic.”

Denmark

Per Skødt Hansen © European Union, 2020

Per Skødt Hansen © European Union, 2020

Per Skødt Hansen has been a fisherman for 55 years and is now chairman of the Fishermen’s Association in Denmark’s Bønnerup Harbor. For Per and his fellow fishermen, the crisis hit hard.

“During the lockdown in Denmark, we have been selling our fish at approximately half price. Some species such as lobster (langoustine) and Dover sole have been under half the normal price.”

However, when the EU made funds more flexible, Per and his colleagues were able to buy new equipment to avoid any of their catch going to waste. The money they received went towards purchasing a truck and for the installation of a cooling system. With this investment they can send fish to other places, where it can then be stored ready for further distribution.

Fishing boat © European Union, 2020

Fishing boat © European Union, 2020

Italy

© European Union, 2020

Giampaolo Buonfiglio © European Union, 2020

Giampaolo Buonfiglio, the president of the Italian Fisheries Cooperatives Alliance, wants to make sure that struggling companies know the EU is supporting the maritime community during the crisis.

This is especially important, he says, to reinforce a European spirit in the Italian and Mediterranean fisheries sector, especially as so many people have suffered as a consequence of closing restaurants and hotels.

“In a few days, we saw the market demand drop by about 80%.”

© European Union, 2020

Pier Salvador © European Union, 2020

For those who work in Italy’s aquaculture, like Pier Salvador, the manager of a family fish farm and president of the Italian Aquaculture Association, there was no option to temporarily moor the boat.

Aquaculture farms had to keep running and fish had to be fed. So, even without an income, money had to be spent. It’s been difficult, but the pandemic also had an upside, explains Pier. It taught people to think about where their food comes from, something that is central to the EU’s new farm to fork strategy.

“The difficult times gave people the impulse to trust local produce as opposed to products that come from outside Europe and where there’s no traceability.”

Carp-e Diem!

The coronavirus crisis has been a rough ride for the fishing industry, but the future can still be bright and prosperous. The EU is committed to helping the sector recover, especially when it comes to small-scale fishermen who represent half of European employment in the industry. The Union also wants to assist them in developing more sustainable fishing practices. Not only will this help replenish our seas, but will also provide a boost to coastal economies around Europe and create new jobs—something vitally important in the wake of the crisis.

Fishermen pulling the fishing net out of the sea © European Union, 2020

Fishermen pulling the fishing net out of the sea © European Union, 2020