Archived Project

Common Fisheries Policy Reform in the European Union

Europe’s fishing grounds were once among the world’s most productive, but 40 years of mismanagement under the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy, or CFP, led to serious depletion of fish populations and degradation of the ecosystem. Europe’s fishing became unsustainable, increasingly unprofitable and overly reliant on public subsidies. This has led to a decline in the economic viability of numerous coastal communities, the transfer of Europe’s overcapacity (too many ships for the number of fish left) to developing countries’ waters and the high seas, and an ever-growing reliance on imported fish.

In 2009, The Pew Charitable Trusts and its partners, the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, Fisheries Secretariat, the new economics foundation and Seas At Risk, launched the OCEAN2012 coalition to support fundamental reform of the CFP. Since then the coalition has swelled from its original five groups to 192, representing 24 EU member states, and including fishermen’s organisations, leading marine scientists, development agencies, environmental non-governmental organisations, aquaria, and others that share an interest in sustainable fisheries. 

After more than four and a half years of concerted advocacy and public education by OCEAN2012 and other large NGOs, and fuelled by a groundswell of public support, European legislators took a huge step in May 2013 toward sustainable fisheries management. They set a target to end EU overfishing by 2015 where possible, and by 2020 at the latest. Finally adopted in December 2013, the deal which was brokered between the European Parliament, the European Commission, and all 28 EU member states, also seeks to greatly decrease the discarding of bycatch, a practice where tonnes of dead or dying fish are wastefully thrown back into the sea every year. In January 2014, a political deal was agreed by the European Parliament and the Council on EU subsidies that should help end overfishing.

The OCEAN2012 coalition has worked consistently over the years to end environmentally harmful subsidies to the EU fisheries sector and to reduce excess fishing capacity. As part of this effort, The Pew Charitable Trusts has supported, a project that seeks to reveal how and where EU fisheries subsidies are spent.

Were to find us

The Pew Charitable Trusts
Square du Bastion 1A boîte 5
1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 (0)2 274 1620

Project Team

  • Uta Bellion, Director, European Marine Programme
  • Ronna Mercado, Administrative Assistant, European Marine Programme
  • Erica Nevius, Manager, European Marine Programme
  • Appolonia Benoist, Associate, Communications
  • Mike Walker, Manager, Communications, +32 476 622575

Our Work

View All
  • Pew Calls on EU Fisheries Ministers to Act to End Overfishing

    Brussels–The European Commission today published its Communication on Fishing Opportunities for 2015, which serves as a guide to the state of fish stocks in the European Union. It also gives an indication of the Commission’s commitment to swiftly implementing the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, which requires an end to EU overfishing by 2015 where possible and by 2020 at the latest. Read More

  • New York Times: Deep-Sea Plunder and Ruin

    A historical moment for the life of the oceans is at hand as the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament wrangles with proposed legislation to phase out the use of deep-sea-bottom trawls and other destructive fishing gear in the Northeast Atlantic. And yet this crucial legislation could well be killed in coming days, not least because some of the committee's 25 members represent districts... Read More

  • Nature: Deep-sea Trawling Must be Banned

    Trawling the bottom of the ocean, dragging heavy metal equipment along the seabed at high speed, is the most destructive form of deep-sea fishing in the world. The fishing industry loves it because it is very effective. But it is indiscriminate and leaves behind a trail of devastation. Read More

Media Contact

Mike Walker

Manager, Communications

0032 476 622575