Working for Sustainable European Fisheries

Sharing knowledge and learning from experience

European fishing has a rich history which stretches back generations. Yet the last decades have seen declining fish populations and a great loss of associated livelihoods.

The European Union recently adopted major policy and funding reforms in a commitment to set fisheries on a path toward sustainability. Environmental Defense Fund supported two key processes that led to the reformation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), both of which will help the EU’s environmental, social and economic goals for the fishing industry.

The primary objective of Environmental Defense Fund’s work in Europe is to partner with fisheries’ stakeholders to implement the new regulations and funding mechanisms in the new EMFF. The fund includes smart funding mechanisms to foster sustainability through improvements in science and data collection, monitoring, transparent design processes, co-management, and avoiding subsidies that could result in perverse incentives to overfish.

With the legislation now in place, Environmental Defense Fund staff are working to help demonstrate how these ambitious goals can be achieved on the water through the creation and provision of tools such as our EU Discard Reduction Manual as well as expert facilitation of exploratory dialogues to understand the fishery’s unique properties in the context of the new regulations.

We are focused on finding appropriate co-management and rights-based management programs in select fisheries where fishermen and fish stocks would benefit most. Rights-based management 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 from these fisheries, arrange direct exchanges and support fishers in finding the best program design for their fishery.

Environmental Defense Fund encourages 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 and a core piece of our work in Europe. Governance structures are already emerging, and Environmental Defense Fund remains an active member of discard discussion groups, government consultation processes, and regional fisheries advisory council meetings. These forums all provide excellent opportunities for us to present our tools, share learning, and take a solutions-based approach to the challenges ahead.