The oceans are in trouble. Demand keeps increasing, and overfishing in many parts of the world is devastating marine populations and ecosystems. If we don’t act to preserve our vital ocean resources, they won’t be there in the future.
As the world’s largest seafood market, the EU has a critical role to play. For many years we've supported Europe’s goal of building a fair and sustainable system for managing fisheries internationally. This involves everyone from artisanal small scale creel fishermen on the Irish coast to industrial tuna fleets across the Pacific, traditional fisheries in the developing world to deep-water long-liners in the Antarctic.
Our work involves both advocacy and science. We work with people from all walks of life to spread the message of sustainability, bringing together politicians, communities, businesses and consumers to build consensus on managing fisheries for the long term.
One big success was the reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy in 2013, which included much of what we asked for. Among the most significant improvements was the commitment to end over fishing, the introduction of a ban on discards (the hugely wasteful practice of throwing unwanted fish back into the sea) and that the same standards and obligations now apply to all EU vessels, even those fishing outside European waters
We’re also playing an important hands-on role at sea, supporting research, gathering data and trialling new technologies to support less harmful fishing practices. For example, we’re investigating how remote electronic monitoring with on-board cameras and sensors can be used to monitor whether fishing boats follow key obligations such as not discarding fish. We're also active in international and regional fisheries organisations that bring together developed and developing countries to agree ways of ensuring sustainable and fair fisheries.
From the Arctic to the Southern Ocean, we’re at the heart of European efforts to put our global marine resources on a sustainable footing.