The Commission presents measures to improve the sustainability and resilience of the EU’s fisheries and aquaculture sector. The main objectives of the steps are to promote the use of cleaner energy sources, reduce dependency on fossil fuels, and reduce the sector’s impact on marine ecosystems. A ‘Pact for Fisheries and Oceans’ will support the full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in coordination with Member States and fisheries stakeholders, including fishers, producer organizations, regional advisory councils, civil society, and scientists. In addition, an Energy Transition Partnership for EU Fisheries and Aquaculture will bring together all stakeholders, including fisheries, aquaculture, shipbuilding, ports, energy, NGOs, and national and regional authorities, to collectively address the challenges of the sector’s energy transition.
The Commission is presenting a marine action plan to reinforce the CFP’s contribution to the EU’s environmental objectives and reduce the adverse impact of fishing activities on marine ecosystems, mainly through seabed disturbance, by-catch of sensitive species, and effects on marine food webs.
“To maintain resilient and sustainable fisheries, safeguard and restore our marine ecosystems, make the industry viable, and increase our long-term food security, we aim to create a “Pact for Fisheries and Oceans” with everyone. In addition to addressing the obligations the EU made in the historic agreement on a new global biodiversity framework achieved at COP15 in Montreal, we are proposing tangible initiatives to restore marine ecosystems and limit the impact of fishing operations on the marine environment. Also, we are pushing an energy transition to assist the industry in modifying its vessels and machinery, enhancing working conditions, and switching to renewable, low-carbon energy sources. We are aware that this is a difficult assignment.” Commissioner for Environment, Marine, and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevius commented.
The plan contributes to delivering on the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and its commitment to legally and effectively protect 30% of our seas, with one-third being strictly protected. It calls on Member States to take fisheries conservation measures to protect and manage marine protected areas (MPAs) effectively, such as the protection of fish spawning and nursery areas, the reduction of fish mortality rates, and the restoration of core areas for sensitive species and habitats.
It also proposes actions to increase the selectivity of fishing gear and practices and to reduce the incidental catches of threatened species, setting a timetable to help Member States prioritize those species that require the most protection. The Commission has proposed a ‘Pact for Fisheries and Oceans’ to help implement the standard fisheries policy, which aims to ensure long-term environmental, economic, and social sustainability for fisheries and aquaculture. The three main principles on which the approach is based are still relevant today: environmental, social, and economic sustainability; practical regional cooperation; and science-based decision-making.
However, several challenges remain for the CFP to be fully implemented, and faster and more structural transformation is needed to reduce environmental and climate impacts. In 2020, there were 124,630 people employed in EU commercial fisheries and 57,000 in aquaculture. The Commission is reporting on the functioning of the policy and setting its vision for sustainable fisheries of the future.