Selected category: Europe

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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Spanish and Portuguese stakeholders meet to create shared vision for a sustainable octopus fishery

Photo: Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia

Photo: Pseudopanax at English Wikipedia

By: Raul Garcia Rodriguez, WWF Spain, and Pam Ruiter, EDF EU Oceans

Raul Garcia is WWF Spain’s Fisheries Officer and Pam Ruiter is a Project Manager for EDF’s EU Oceans team based in Spain, where EDF and WWF are collaborating on a project working with coastal fisheries.

Shared by fishermen from Spain and Portugal, the octopus fishery in the waters off the coast of the Iberian Peninsula is economically important and complex. In late January, we attended the International Forum on Octopus Management in the Iberian Peninsula held in Santiago de Compostela, Spain to discuss management challenges in the fishery.

The forum was organised by WWF Spain, WWF UK and the EU GAP2 project, and included a group of 70 stakeholders including members of the fishing sector, management and civil society from across Spain, as well as representatives from Portugal. Read More »

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A new momentum for North Sea fisheries management

Photo credit: Melanie Siggs

Photo credit: Melanie Siggs

Guest Author: Erik Lindebo, Brussels

The autumn started with a splash. Business resumed in the European Parliament and a new Commission was elected. Scotland and my beloved Sweden settled down after a summer of high political emotions. Meanwhile Europe’s fishermen move closer to the reality of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) implementation and its associated challenges – including adapting to the landings obligation, i.e. the phasing out of the common practice of returning unwanted catches back to the sea. It seems we must leave it to Member States, producer organisations, fishermen, and those directly engaged in the fisheries to find their own workable and demonstrable solutions. This should be underpinned by a simplified technical measures framework which encourages non-prescriptive results-based approaches at the regional level. Read More »

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Collaboration for Change: Scottish fisheries management in action

photo credit: coliedog mac via photopin cc

photo credit: coliedog mac via photopin cc

This is a pivotal time for Scottish fisheries. With the challenges of implementing the European Union’s ambitious Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) coupled with the recent Scottish Government consultation with fishermen and other stakeholders on the future of Scottish quota management, collaboration is essential. This government consultation is an opportunity for change and for fishermen, industry representatives and others to make their views heard. Creating solidarity around key principles is a great way to do this – and it’s even better if those views can be represented across the fleet. The Scottish Whitefish Producer’s Association (SWFPA) recognise this and hosted a workshop in Peterhead, Scotland on October 1 to help jumpstart the conversation about the future of quota management in Scotland.

EDF’s EU oceans team was invited to help facilitate and arranged for representatives from fisheries in Denmark, the United States and Canada to share their knowledge about what it means to go through a system of change. What all of these experiences have a common is that fishermen and fishing representatives must be at the heart of any process towards change. Creating platforms for working collaboratively and exchanging ideas and values can be a great way to carve through the complexity of government proposals while at the same time giving individuals an opportunity to think about what is really important to them. The workshop in Peterhead did just that. Read More »

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