Traditional shipbuilding has been a major production and export force for centuries in Mediterranean European countries, including Greece, which has been building ships for three millennia. Traditional shipbuilding requires its own particular techniques and has different aesthetics, which should be maintained over the centuries as a particular architectural perception of shipbuilding. In the midst of the serious economic crisis, it would create jobs and it certainly has a market. Current EU policy and the negligence of the services of the Hellenic Republic is forcing owners of traditional trawlers and other vessels to scrap them. In total, 12 500 wooden fishing vessels have been scrapped in landfills.
In view of the above, will the Commission say:
— Why does EU policy induce traditional fishermen to destroy traditional trawlers, boats and vessels, instead of giving them incentives to convert them, albeit for other uses?
— What policies does it intend to promote in order to maintain or improve traditional shipbuilding?
Answer given by Mr Vella on behalf of the Commission
Under the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) [Council Regulation (EC) No 1198/2006, OJ L 223 of 15 August 2006, Article 23)] 2007-2013 support for the financing of the permanent cessation of fishing activities of fishing vessels as part of a fishing effort adjustment plan can be provided with the aim of balancing the fishing fleet's capacity with the available fishing stocks. The permanent cessation of fishing activities of a vessel may be achieved by its scrapping but also by its reassignment for the purpose of the creation of artificial reefs or by its reassignment under the flag of a Member State and its registration in the Community for activities outside fishing, such as training, research and museum exhibition.
The Greek EFF Operational Programme (OP) 2007-2013 provides for measures of ‘public aid for the permanent cessation of fishing activities’ allowing not only for the scrapping but also for the reassignment of vessels for other purposes outside fishing.
In the new programming period 2014-2020 the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) [Regulation (EU) No 508:2014 of the European Parliament and of the Council, OJ L 149 of 20 May 2014] also allows for support for permanent cessation without scrapping in the case of traditional wooden vessels, provided that such vessels retain a land-based heritage function.