Assessing the EU Common Fisheries Policy: Stepping Up Efforts towards Sustainability

In recent years, the EU fleet's economic performance has improved significantly, registering record-high profits of €770 million in 2014. Average salaries and labour productivity have also increased, generating positive impact on many European coastal communities. Catches accounts for around 80% of the total volume of the EU production. However, 68% of the seafood consumed in the EU is currently imported, while only 10% of the consumption is farmed here.

In its annual Communication on principles for 2018 fishing opportunities, the Commission issued for the first time a state of play of the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), lastly updated in 2013. The renewed CFP aims to ensure that fishing activities are environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. Consistently with these objectives, under the CFP provisions, all stocks must be fished at the Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) levels by 2020. Other key pillars of the CFP are the reduction of unwanted catches and other wasteful practices, as well as the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IIU) fishing. In order to improve the system of authorisations granted to EU fishing vessels fishing in non-EU waters and of authorisations for third country vessels to fish in EU waters, in December 2017, the Parliament and the Council adopted a new Regulation on the management of external fishing fleets, repealing Council Regulation (EC) N.1006/2008.

To close the gap between how much capture fisheries can sustainably produce and the demand for consumption, the CFP sets as one of its key components the boosting of the EU aquaculture industry. The European aquaculture sector, largely dominated by SMEs or micro-enterprises in coastal and rural areas, accounts for about 20% of fish production and directly employs about 85 000 people. Since the publication of the 2013 Strategic Guidelines on the sustainable development of European aquaculture, the Commission has been working closely with Member States to address the barriers hampering the development of the sector, while launching a number of campaigns to promote sustainable and competitive fish farming. However, regional and local actors have an important role to play in the implementation of EU rules and the promotion of local high-quality seafood production.

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