Working for Sustainable European Fisheries

Sharing knowledge and learning from experience

Europe has a rich history of fishing which stretches back generations. Europe is the fifth largest producer of fishery goods in world, and is the world’s number one importer of fish. That along with having the world’s third largest fishing fleet makes Europe a significant player in the global seafood market. This makes Europe a vital geography in Environmental Defense Fund’s global work to secure more food on the plate, more fish in the sea and thriving coastal communities.

In its latest reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, the European Union adopted major policy changes and funding commitments to set fisheries Europe-wide on a path towards greater sustainability. Having been part of this reform process, Environmental Defense Fund is now working on the ground in a number of key locations in Europe to ensure fisheries policy delivers the best social, economic and environmental outcomes in the long-term.

The primary objective of our work in Europe is to partner with fisheries stakeholders, and fishermen in particular, to give fishing communities a greater stake in management and decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods. We also work at the overarching political level in Brussels, advocating for innovation and flexibility in policy implementation, smart quota management and a stronger voice for a range of stakeholders at the highest levels.

In their program countries, EDF staff work to help demonstrate how the ambitious goals outlined in the reformed Common Fisheries Policy can be achieved on the water through the creation and sharing of tools such as our EU Discard Reduction Manual – supporting industry in meeting the new ‘Landing Obligation’ (or Discard Ban) – as well as providing expert facilitation of exploratory dialogues to understand each fishery’s unique properties in the context of new regulations.

To empower fishing communities, and protect and rebuild fish stocks, we are focused on fostering appropriate co-management and programs of secure tenure fishing rights in select fisheries where fishermen and fish would benefit most. Management of fisheries based on secure fishing rights, and tailored to local circumstances, is working all around the world to rebuild fish populations and help fishermen maintain stable and profitable businesses. EDF is able to share the learning gathered from these fisheries worldwide, arrange direct fishery exchanges, and support fishermen in finding the best program design for their fishery.

How we work in Europe

We build many types of partnerships to advance secure fishing rights and co-management in Europe, including:

  • Fishermen exchanges, which are valuable, practical learning opportunities for fishermen.
  • Membership in regional fisheries advisory councils including the North Sea and Baltic Sea Advisory Councils where our active membership allows us to both listen and contribute to a stakeholder-driven process.
  • Partnerships with local experts including John Goodlad, an international fisheries expert based in Scotland, and Peter Olsson, head of the Swedish Fishermen’s Producer Organisation, who serve as our industry advisers in the UK and Sweden respectively.
  • Discussion groups, government consultation processes, and meetings which provide excellent opportunities for us to present our tools, share learning,and take a pragmatic, solutions-based approach to the challenges ahead.

Our country projects in Europe



Our European experts

Jessica Landman Interim Director, European Oceans Program

Pamela Ruiter Senior Project Manager, Spain

Erin Priddle UK Fisheries Manager

Erik Lindebo Senior Consultant

See our full list of oceans experts »