The European Commission (EC) on Tuesday presented a package of measures for the EU's fisheries and aquaculture sector in a drive to improve its sustainability and resilience, in part through the use of more renewable energy.
In a newly-released communication, the Commission notes that much of the fisheries and aquaculture sector has had to rely on state aid in 2022 in order to continue operations, the reason being its dependency on fossil fuels amid soaring fuel prices. As a result, the EC is proposing measures to help the sector speed up its energy transition by improving fuel efficiency and switching to renewable, low-carbon power sources.
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The EU hopes that its fisheries and aquaculture sector will become sustainable, economically profitable and with a neutral carbon footprint by 2050 at the latest. In order to achieve this objective, the Commission points at the necessity of modernising fishing techniques and gears, as well as vessel design, to make them energy efficient. This includes the adoption of wind-assisted or solar-electric propulsion.
The EC underlines that there is potential to replace the marine-diesel combustion engines currently used in fishing and aquaculture-service vessels with electric propulsion techniques and with engines running on alternative fuels, such as green hydrogen, ammonia, methanol or other sustainable synthetic fuels and biofuels. At the same time, it is envisaged that abundant recharging and refuelling infrastructure is deployed for port operations.
One of the proposed actions is the creation of an energy transition partnership that brings together all stakeholders, including in fisheries, aquaculture, shipbuilding, ports, energy, NGOs, national and regional authorities. This partnership should facilitate the cooperation between the various stakeholders with the objective of identifying barriers for the energy transition and exploring common ways to address them.