Future of European Fisheries

Future of European Fisheries

Grantee Seas At Risk
Grant Amount 1,600,000
Duration Three Years

The world we live in is increasingly volatile: unexpected events shake the foundations of society and everything we were used to in a more and more frequent manner. This obliges us to re-think the way we have been doing things in the past, not only as society but also as NGOs. 

Recent experience with advocacy at EU and national level shows that a pure focus on fishing policies, such as TACs and Quota negotiations, might allow for some short-term wins, but will not change the underlying root causes of continuous depletion of marine life. We believe that we need a systemic shift towards low impact, regenerative fisheries that prioritise quality (of catch, but also of livelihoods of coastal communities) over quantity if we want to end overfishing and the massive pressures on the marine environment through increasingly industrialised and harmful fisheries. 

In the European level we can also observe renewed ambition of the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, with some remarkable progress on the ocean conservation agenda, like daring for the first time to point at the need to phase out bottom trawling in the EU. There are only two years left for the current European Commission administration to implement the ambitious commitments under the European Green Deal and the Biodiversity Strategy. In 2024, EU elections will take place again and a new EU Parliament will be elected, as well as new Commission officials will be appointed. The time is now not to miss the opportunity of an ambitious Commissioner and make the most of upcoming policy opportunities, such as the Marine Action Plan, the Nature Restoration Law or the Sustainable Food System law. But beyond the already known policy opportunities it is more important than ever to prepare the ground for a just transition to low impact fisheries with policy makers and sector stakeholders, so NGOs, civil society, low impact fishers and scientists are ready to change the fisheries policy frameworks when political opportunities materialize in future crisis moments. 

Furthermore, overconsumption of fish needs to be addressed and alternatives to wild catch (e.g. plant and algae-based alternatives, cellular seafood, sustainable aquaculture) need to gain traction, also building on rapidly increasing public awareness on aquatic animal welfare. Such a holistic alternative vision for fisheries in Europe will help to create and use windows of opportunity for policy changes. 

We will seize these opportunities in an EU-wide fisheries project, in which targeted advocacy at EU level is paired with national advocacy work and increased pressure on key decision makers, with a focus on Germany, France and Spain. In order to achieve our overarching goal to transform policies and practices of fisheries in Europe to low impact we will launch an advocacy campaign that will influence new policy initiatives, enforce the implementation of existing policies and build a vision for the future of fishing in Europe in order to change the mindset and push the margins of what is considered possible.