Reforming European fisheries

Sharing knowledge and expertise on the ground

Sustainably managing European fisheries

European fishing has a rich history which stretches back generations. Yet the last decade has seen a huge proportion of fishing jobs lost as a result of depleted fish stocks.

EDF is committed to ensuring a sustainable future for European fisheries. The recent finalisation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) represents a major step in the right direction; requiring that overfishing be ended by 2015 for most stocks and by 2020 for all stocks, as well as a phase-out of discarding unwanted or unmarketable fish.  The practical implementation of these ambitious targets will require collaboration between all stakeholders and is the prime objective of EDF’s EU Oceans team.

In addition to the CFP reform, Europe is also reforming fisheries funding with a proposed new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). In order to achieve fisheries reform, it is essential to have smart funding mechanisms fostering sustainability through improvements in:

  • Science and data collection
  • Monitoring and enforcement
  • Transparent design processes
  • C0-management
  • Avoiding subsidies that could result in perverse incentives to overfish.

    EDF is supporting the adoption of a European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) that will help the EU achieve environmentally, socially and economically sustainable goals for the fishing industry.

    For more information on the CFP reform process, please see the official European Commission fisheries page or the CFP Reform Watch site. 

    SEASALT fisheries design: aligning economic and environmental incentives

    Rights-based management (RBM) works to find viable solutions for fish populations and fishing communities alike, by aligning environmental and economic incentives. EDF recommends designing rights-based management systems using the “SEASALT” approach.


    Not all of these elements are strictly required -- for example transferability – but generally the more SEASALT attributes a fishery has, the more sustainable the management system tends to be.

    To learn more about RBM and download our fisheries toolkit, visit the Catch Share Design Center.

    Collaboration and learning amongst fishermen internationally

    Rights-based management programmes are working all around the world to rebuild fish populations and help fishermen maintain stable and profitable businesses.

    RBM systems are already prevalent in the EU, and their success is especially evident in the United States, where about 65% of fish landed in federal waters are managed under RBM programmes tailored to local circumstances.

    We encourage fishermen working under different management systems to meet each other, exchange ideas, and discuss the common management challenges they face. Fishermen exchanges are valuable learning opportunities for everyone involved, and we hope to facilitate more international conversations in the future.

    Our focus when working with fishermen and stakeholders is grounded in scientific analysis and participation in hands-on industry workshops to ensure that the reformed CFP returns tangible results.

    Our EU Fisheries experts

    Tom Grasso Senior Advisor, Oceans Contact Tom

    Pam Ruiter Senior Project Manager Europe Program, Oceans Contact Pam

    Erin Priddle UK Fisheries Manager, Oceans Contact Erin

    Jessica Landman Senior Project Director, Oceans Contact Jessica

    Melanie Siggs Senior Director, EU Oceans Program Contact Melanie

    See our full list of Oceans experts »