Selected category: Europe

Laying foundations for the future of fishing

Credit: John Rae

Credit: John Rae

Cast your mind forward – 10, 15, 50 years. What do you see? The world around us is changing: resource needs are transforming alongside a booming global population. Technology is evolving exponentially, informing how we respond to daily life. Our planet’s climate and the delicate balance of our oceans are under threat.

With over 3 billion people in this changing world relying on oceans for sustenance, where do fish, and fishing, fit into this future?

The world’s oceans have never been higher up the political agenda. Three major international events on ocean governance took place in the last month: the second UN Preparatory Committee on a legally binding instrument for the high seas; the IUCN global congress; and the star-spangled Our Ocean Conference, addressed by President Obama, COP21 President Ségolène Royal, and Leonardo DiCaprio (to name a few). Meanwhile, in London, HRH The Prince of Wales recently convened a meeting – through his International Sustainability Unit (ISU) – to ‘take stock’ of the global transition to sustainable fisheries, and scan the horizon for emerging challenges and opportunities. (Read the full meeting report here).


Fisheries and the future

A keynote speaker at the ISU event projected a global population of 18 billion, and a human life expectancy of 300 years (just around the corner – think your grandchildren, or their children). Another speaker forecast a 60 million ton shortage in seafood products in comparison to demand, within a generation. In a world where billions (often in the most food-insecure nations) rely on protein from fish and other seafood, this vastly increased pressure on resources paints a bleak picture for global fisheries and food security. But we see a brighter future where we can rebuild global fisheries for more fish, more food and more prosperous fishing communities. Read More »

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Fishermen lead the way in discarding old habits

Photo: Laurence Hartwell

Photo: Laurence Hartwell

By: Dr. Erik Lindebo, Senior Consultant, EDF Oceans Europe

For coastal communities across Europe, fishing is both a way of life and a business. It’s an activity rich with tradition, spanning generations within families – but to be passed down from father to son, businesses need to be strong: fishing must stay profitable, and sustainable. Facing a changing policy landscape can challenge fishing businesses of all sizes, and the introduction of a ‘Landing Obligation’ (which requires fishermen to land and account for all of their catch rather than discarding unwanted fish) by the Common Fisheries Policy is certainly one of the biggest policy challenges the industry has had to adapt to.

Whilst many industry members are still reeling at the implications of landing 100% of catch – and worried about their bottom line in a ‘discard free’ future – a dedicated and growing core of active fishermen are seeking new solutions to implementing the Landing Obligation (LO). Their vision is of fishing businesses that waste little, deliver profits and remain sustainable in the long-term. But how can this be achieved? Read More »

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Managing Spain’s small-scale fisheries with limited data? ¡Sí se puede!

Credit: Pam Ruiter

Credit: Pam Ruiter

For the last three years, Environmental Defense Fund Europe has been working in partnership with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Spain through a nation-wide project focusing on the sustainability of small-scale coastal fisheries. Small-scale fishing is the lifeblood of many coastal Spanish communities. In order to preserve this way of life it is critical to understand how these fisheries are doing biologically. As in small-scale fisheries worldwide, many Spanish coastal fisheries have limited information available to work with, and a stronger link between science and management could be made. Read More »

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Let’s take control of our future: a UK skipper’s perspective

Photo: Tom Jamieson

Photo: Tom Jamieson

By: David Stevens

David Stevens comes from a long line of St Ives fishermen and is part of his family run business. Their vessel, The Crystal Sea is a 20 meter trawler working out of Newlyn, which goes to sea 3-5 days depending on the weather, so as to maximise the quality and freshness of their catch. David skippers alongside his brother, Alec, with a crew of three others and their father working ashore with the nets and supplies.

I have been fishing now for nearly 25 years and in all of that time, the decisions that really matter, about how we fish and the amount we catch have been largely kept out of industry’s hands. The decisions made in Brussels by the European Union have had a huge impact on the way we run our businesses. We are often left wondering how seemingly straightforward policies have become so complicated and how, when introduced at the industry level, these laws just don’t work. I am hopeful, however, that fishermen can now lead the necessary management solutions to forge a prosperous and sustainable future. Read More »

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A guide for reducing discards in Europe’s fisheries


Many fishermen in Europe and around the world have been forced to dump fish, often dead and dying, overboard for decades. This practice, “discarding,” is one that is abhorred by both the fishing industry and environmental groups. While the exact scale of discarding is unknown, it’s estimated that each year roughly 6.8 million tons of fish are discarded globally.

In January 2013, the European Union agreed on a new set of fisheries laws as part of a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The most significant and perhaps the most challenging of these is Article 15, known as the landing obligation, which bans the practice of discarding in European fisheries.  It is a challenge to require fishermen to record, land and account for all fish that make it aboard their boats requiring a huge operational change for most fleets. Environmental Defense Fund is committed to working with fishery stakeholders to find smart solutions to challenges they face, which is why we’ve just released a free manual to help fisheries meet the landing obligation without losing the social and economic benefits of fish. Read More »

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French and UK Channel Scallop fishermen lowering barriers and putting dialogue into action

Market Trip, Port en Bessin. Photo: Dimitri

Market Trip, Port en Bessin. Photo: Dimitri Rogoff

Since 2012, when the increasingly hostile clash between French and UK Channel scallop fishermen made headlines; industry leaders, national administrations and a host of other stakeholders have worked to resolve the conflict and achieve positive change to protect the viability of this economically and culturally important fishery. The work of the GAP2 Project, an EU funded initiative, has been a vital force in the progress achieved so far in alleviating historic tensions and moving towards a more conciliatory approach.

In a previous post outlining the successes and challenges of the first GAP2 Channel scallop workshop in Brixham, England I spoke of the importance of bringing industry and others together to engage in participatory and collaborative dialogue on achieving greater profitability and sustainability for this valuable fishery. I also emphasised the need for a follow up workshop focused on putting dialogue into action and mapping out next steps to develop a regional management plan. Read More »

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