European social partners in the fisheries sector, ETF and Europêche, call on the European Commission to support Member States in developing a specific COVID-19 vaccination protocol for fishers, adapting and prioritizing their access to the vaccine. Considering their recognition as essential workers and the particularities of the fishers' workplaces and working patterns, the social partners have put forward practical guidelines that can help accelerate the process.
Last year the EU adopted a Multiannual Management Plan (MAP) of demersal fisheries in the Western Mediterranean that regulates the fleets, mainly trawlers, from Italy, France and Spain. Back then, the sector criticised the introduction of severe spatial-seasonal trawl closures and the harsh reduction of the activity at sea from the first year of implementation of the new rules. The fishing industry strictly complied with these measures even though undermined the viability of the Mediterranean fleets. Fishermen, now facing the consequences of the COVID-19, fear further cuts which would lead to a considerable decline in the number of fishing vessels, jobs and fish supply.
Today, the European Parliament and this week, the Council of the EU, in a coordinated and concerted effort, swiftly adopted their position on the European Commission proposal establishing a set of ambitious measures under the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to tackle the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the fisheries sector. The EU Social Partners in the Fisheries Sector - Europêche and ETF - welcome the positive step forward towards the final adoption of this legislative proposal which will provide much-needed support to fishermen. The sector looks forward to a speedy and flexible implementation of the provisions in the Member States.