EU ministers have adopted an emergency aid package worth up to two billion euros to help fishermen cope with soaring fuel prices.
The European Commission says fuel bills for fishing boats have risen by 240 per cent since 2002, putting severe pressure on a sector already struggling to deal with overcapacity and dwindling fish stocks.
Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg is hoping for a more sustainable future.
“The EU fleet is still too large and too many sectors of the fleet are still wasting fuel and practising intensive fishing. I hope that this package that has been agreed today will not only provide short-term relief for operators that are in difficulties, but will also offer bases for building an efficient European fleet for the future.”
Fishermen have staged waves of often-militant protests across Europe in recent months, including one in Brussels where an EU building was damaged.
The emergency package will be spread over several years, with 1.4 billion euros coming from the European Fisheries Fund and 600 million from the Commission.
The plan combines short-term emergency aid with long-term funding for restructuring of the industry.