Lesley Griffiths, Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd
I wish to update Members of the Senedd on the opening of the EMFF application window today.
The EMFF in Wales is a £17 million programme co-financed by the Welsh Government and the European Commission.
Whilst the official programme period ended on 31 December 2020, the programme continues to operate and draw down EU funding for an additional three years as agreed under the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.
The programme is administered by Rural Payments Wales, and as of today commitment level stands at 87% with over £15 million in approved grant awards for projects across Wales, and a further £1 million of projects under consideration.
Last year, I announced the temporary closure of the programme on 31 December 2020 whilst officials assessed the existing projects and budget position against the objectives set out within the UK Operational Programme.
Due to ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and project de-commitments over the past 12 months, an EMFF budget of £1m has become available to support new projects in Wales.
The EU funding is only available until 2023, and will primarily focus on providing support to help the industry mitigate the ongoing impact of the pandemic and adapt to the rapidly changing market conditions for seafood products. The funding will support investments in the small scale coastal fleet and aquaculture, together with improvements to the marketing and processing of fishery and aquaculture products. However, any project selected and supported under the programme will have to be completed within a 12 month period starting from July this year.
Funding is available under EMFF Union Priority 1 (Article 42) Added value, product quality and use of unwanted catches – fishers only [Promoting sustainable, resource efficient, innovative, competitive and knowledge based fisheries]; Union Priority 2 (Article 48): Productive Investments in Aquaculture – aquaculture investments only, and Union Priority 5 (Articles 68 and 69) Marketing and Processing [Fostering marketing and processing].
The EMFF application window will open today and will remain open for 10 weeks. Those interested in applying should read the guidance and submit a Project Outline Form to Rural Payments Wales (RPW) as soon as possible. A full application will then be provided for submission by 25 March. All project proposals received will be assessed on the information provided in the application and will only be considered once the application window has closed.
Details of the EMFF programme and scheme guidance can be found on the Welsh Government website: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
For any additional help and support, applicants should contact the RPW Customer Contact Centre on 03000 062 5004.