News: Fisheries, aquaculture and marine ecosystems: transition to clean energy and ecosystem protection for more sustainability and resilience

Foto: European Commission website

On February 21, the Commission presented a package of measures to improve the sustainability and resilience of the EU's fisheries and aquaculture sector. It includes four elements:

  1. Communication on the Energy Transition of the EU Fisheries and Aquaculture sector.
  2. Action Plan to protect and restore marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries.
  3. Communication on the common fisheries policy today and tomorrow.
  4. Report on the Common Market Organisation for fishery and aquaculture products.

The main objectives of the measures are to promote the use of cleaner energy sources and reduce dependency on fossil fuels as well as reduce the sector's impact on marine ecosystems. The proposed actions will be carried out gradually to help the sector adapt. A ‘Pact for Fisheries and Oceans' will also support the full implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in coordination with Member States and fisheries stakeholders, including fishers, producer organisations, regional advisory councils, civil society and scientists. The proposals also have at its heart making the sector an attractive job place for the younger generations.

Net zero emissions fisheries and aquaculture sector by 2050

The Commission proposed to reduce dependency on fossil fuels and aim towards climate neutral fisheries and aquaculture sector, in line with one of the ambitions of the European Green Deal to reach climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. To this end, it proposed to support the sector in accelerating its energy transition, by improving fuel efficiency and switching to renewable, low-carbon power sources.

One of the key actions is an Energy Transition Partnership for EU Fisheries and Aquaculture. It will bring together all stakeholders, including in fisheries, aquaculture, shipbuilding, ports, energy, NGOs, national and regional authorities, to collectively address the challenges of the sector's energy transition.

Protecting marine ecosystems for sustainable fisheries

The Commission presented 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, particularly through seabed disturbance, by-catch of sensitive species and effects on marine food webs. A healthy marine environment with healthy fish stocks and rich biodiversity is the only way to ensure a prosperous future for EU fisheries communities in the medium and long term.

The action 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. To fulfil this goal, the Commission calls on Member States to take fisheries conservation measures to protect and manage marine protected areas (MPAs) effectively, with a clear timeline. These efforts should include 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.

The action plan aims to reduce the impact of fishing on the seabed. In this sense, the Commission, therefore, calls on Member States to propose joint recommendations and take national measures to phase out mobile bottom fishing in all MPAs by 2030 at the latest and not to allow it in any newly established MPAs. First measures should be taken already by March 2024 for Natura 2000 sites under the Habitats Directive that protect the seabed and marine species.

The action plan also proposes ways 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 prioritise those species that require most protection. Finally, this action plan will be part of the EU's contribution to the implementation of the recently agreed Kunming-Montréal biodiversity agreement .

‘Pact for Fisheries and Oceans' to help implement the common fisheries policy

In order to establish a united vision for the future of the fisheries and aquaculture sector, to reconfirm the joint commitment to fully implement the CFP to launch discussions between fisheries managers and stakeholders on future-proofing the policy in terms of both social and environmental resilience, the Commission proposed a ‘Pact for Fisheries and Oceans', bringing together all stakeholders. The ‘Pact for Fisheries and Oceans' opens a new phase of dialogue and cooperation between the Commission and all fisheries stakeholders.


News Posted on 28/02/2023