The EC’s ambition in assessing the CFP should be to protect the people working in the sector

22 Feb 2023

The European Commission published on 21 February 2023 a package of documents assessing the state of play of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Commission also sets its future objectives, focusing on the areas where more work needs to be done to achieve sustainable fisheries in the EU from an environmental, economic, and social point of view.

The ETF welcomes the space dedicated to the social dimension of fisheries in the Communication “The CFP policy today and tomorrow“. Since it is a dimension that has been largely neglected, we appreciate the acknowledgement of the role fisheries plays for coastal communities, fishers and their families, and European traditions and culture. The sector provides jobs to many regions, and the CFP shall have the ambition to protect the people working in an industry that plays such a crucial part in ensuring food security in the EU.

Juan Manuel Trujillo, Chair of the ETF Fisheries Section, said:

“We appreciate the Commission identified the generational renewal of fishers as a challenge, and we welcome the Commission speaking openly about a Directive in line with the training standards enshrined in IMO STCW-F”.

He added:

“Nevertheless, despite the documents stating that social consequences of conservation measures must be considered, we can also read an explicit will to phase out mobile bottom fishing, which employs many fishers in Europe. This contradiction between objectives and concrete actions needs to be highlighted and resolved: this is furthermore confirmed by the absence of any possible review of the definition of fishing capacity to allow and incentivize better working and living conditions on board, which can make the fishing jobs more attractive to young generations.”

The ETF and its affiliates will continue to follow up on the actions planned for the coming months. We are ready to contribute to the announced project “Fishers for the future”, which aims to target the reasons preventing our sector from being attractive.

Trujillo concluded:

“The EU imports 70% of the products consumed by its citizens. We are for environmentally sustainable fisheries, but we also do not want to end up in a situation where EU fisheries are dismissed, jobs are lost, and we are forced to import even more fish from third countries where environmental and social standards are certainly not better than the EU ones.”