European fishers joined forces to defend their work and reclaim their future

25 May 2023

The voices of European fishers sounded loud and clear! In their actions and protests organised across Europe between 2 and 9 May, fishers called on the European Commission to put in place measures to defend the fishery sector while opposing the ones threatening its existence.

From Italy to France and Spain, our fishers joined forces and asked for EU rules allowing European fishers to maintain their jobs instead of gradually making the EU depend only on imports of fish products from questionable sources.

With our week of actions, we aimed to warn about the negative socio-economic impact that the recently adopted EU Action Plan“Protecting and restoring marine ecosystems for sustainable and resilient fisheries”-  will have on the sector with its objective of effectively banning bottom trawling from marine protected areas. We also pointed out that some local coastal regions are the most vulnerable ones, as bottom trawling still represents a relevant part of fisheries operations.

As explained in our Manifesto, the ETF and its affiliates believe that once this action plan is implemented, socio-economic impacts on the sector will be catastrophic because:

  • Europe is going to deepen its dependency on imports of fish products from countries where the environmental and social standards are often lower than the EU ones;
  • jobs will be lost;
  • fuel consumption will increase as trawlers will need to fish in more remote areas;
  • the sector will become even less attractive to young generations.

Thus, with our Manifesto, we called on the EC to consider targeted interventions within the European fisheries sector towards building an environmentally and socially sustainable fisheries industry where:

Throughout the week of actions, European fishers had the same message: Fishers, as the true Guardians of the Sea, must be protected!

Italian fisheries trade unions were the first ones setting the tone of the ETF Fisheries Week. In a joint press release, Fai Cisl Nazionale, Flai Cgil Nazionale and Uila Pesca expressed their full solidarity with fishers across Europe and their full support of our week of actions.

So proud of our French fishers who joined our week of actions across Europe! In Boulogne-Sur-Mer, our French fishers also ensured their voices were heard with their protests organised between 4 and 7 May. They also called on the EU policymakers to understand that the very existence of some segments of the EU fleet is at stake.

We were amazed by the fantastic mobilisation of our Spanish affiliates, FSC CCOO and FeSMC UGT and their great participation at the ETF Fishers’ Week of Action! With their several actions and protests, they stressed the importance of the fisheries sector for the EU and the local communities and asked the European Commission to protect the fisheries sector instead of demonising it.

On Europe Day, ETF, EBFA, Europêche, EAPO and Cogeca joined efforts and spoke up on behalf of all European fishers. In a joint press release, they sent a clear message to the EU authorities that bottom fishing is on the brink of collapse and asked them to reconsider where they want the seafood for the whole of Europe to come from.

With our Fisheries Week of actions, we aimed to remind the European Commission that our fishers are the true guardians of the sea and must be placed at the core of all EU decisions impacting the fisheries sector. It is about the sector’s survival as much as it is about Europe being in the situation to make a conscious choice about its primary source of fish products for the next generations of European citizens.