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 EDF’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, EDF 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.

How we work in Europe

Environmental Defense Fund encourages fishermen working under different management systems to meet each other, exchange ideas, and discuss the common management challenges they face.

EDF takes a pragmatic approach and works with fishermen and tries to involve them. That has enormous potential at the EU and national level.

John Goodlad Chair of Fisheries Innovation Scotland

We utilize many types of partnerships to advance fishing rights in Europe including:

  • Fishermen exchanges, which are valuable 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 of the Swedish Fishermen’s Producer Organisation, who serve as our fisherman representatives 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 solutions-based approach to the challenges ahead.

Our country projects in Europe



Our European experts

Jessica Landman Interim Director, European Oceans Program

Pamela Puiter Senior Project Manager, Spain

Erin Priddle UK Fisheries Manager

Klaas de Vos UK Fisheries Manager, EU Oceans Program

Andrea Giesecke Programme Specialist, Oceans

Erik Lindebo Senior Consultant

See our full list of oceans experts »