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Turning the tide for Europe's fish stocks

Priorities for a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

Fishing in stormy seas © Corey Arnold and OCEAN2012


Europe’s fishing grounds were once among the most productive in the world, but forty years of the CFP have resulted in serious depletion of fish populations, ecosystem degradation and damage to species, habitats and sites protected by EU environmental legislation. Fishing has become unsustainable, increasingly unprofitable and reliant on public subsidies. This in turn has led to deprivation in coastal communities and an ever growing reliance on imported fish.

According to Commission figures, Europe’s fishing fleets are far too large. The majority of fishers in Europe are fairly small-scale, operating on vessels less than 12m length. Current EU policies primarily benefit more destructive, indiscriminate, and fuel-intensive fishing fleets, at the expense of more environmentally sustainable fishing methods.

The reform offers the opportunity to recover the well-being of our seas and dependent fishing communities:

The CFP should end overfishing, reduce damage to ecosystems and re-build an EU fishing sector that is environmentally sustainable, and socially as well as economically viable. Only such a reform will guarantee Europe’s consumers a rich variety of responsibly and locally-caught fish into the future.
The proposal to revise the EU’s core legislation for fisheries management will be part of a package that includes measures on the EU’s domestic and external fisheries policy, common market rules and a new financial instrument.
For the first time, the European Parliament has co-decision in fisheries policy. We are looking to Members of the European Parliament and EU fisheries ministers to support a new CFP which achieves healthy fish stocks and contributes to achieving good environmental status for EU waters under the 2008 Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Only if stocks recover can the CFP deliver a secure future for fish, fishers, and consumers alike.

We stand for a CFP reform that:

  • recovers the well‐being of our seas and dependent fishing communities;
  • ends overfishing and makes the shift towards environmentally sustainable fishing practices, regardless of whether vessels fish within or outside the EU;
  • respects scientific advice and the limits of the ecosystem;
  • applies precautionary and ecosystem‐based fisheries management;
  • delivers fair and equitable use of marine resources;  
  • can supply Europe’s consumers with a rich variety of locally‐caught fish now and into the future; and
  • uses public funds as part of the solution and not as a driver of overfishing.


Find out more

Full details of the NGO coalition demands are available in a series of briefings (see right). Visit our publications section for all reports and briefings available in several languages.


The CFP – a global model


OCEAN2012 believes that achieving these reform objectives would help create sustainable fisheries, to the long-term benefit of the marine environment, its fish stocks and the communities that depend on them. If formulated and implemented as described above, the European Union’s fisheries policy could become a global model and provide huge positive influence on fisheries management around the world.