European Parliament Concludes Five Years of Common Fisheries Policy Reform

European Parliament Concludes Five Years of Common Fisheries Policy Reform

On April 16, the European Parliament effectively concluded the EU Common Fisheries Policy reform with the adoption of the final piece of legislation, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, or EMFF.

Launched in 2009 to remedy policies that encouraged overfishing, the reform has taken over five years. In May 2013, European legislators took an historic step by agreeing to a reformed EU Common Fisheries Policy. This included a commitment to recover and maintain fish stocks above levels needed to produce maximum sustainable yield, and to end EU overfishing “by 2015 where possible and by 2020 at the latest”. In December 2013, the European Parliament adopted the basic fisheries regulation, which came into force on January 1st 2014. Later in January, a political deal was reached on the EU fisheries subsidies regime, the EMFF, which should support implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. This deal was adopted by the European Parliament today.

This animation produced by OCEAN2012 has received more than 1 million views on YouTube.

The EMFF approval marks the end of the Common Fisheries Policy reform. With the goals of the OCEAN2012 coalition achieved, it is now winding up. The coalition, initially set up by five groups, has grown into a substantial force of 193 diverse organisations from 24 EU countries.*

“OCEAN2012 congratulates the European Parliament, EU fisheries ministers and the European Commission for achieving an historic reform that lays the way for ending EU overfishing,” said Uta Bellion, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts' EU Marine Programme and co-ordinator of OCEAN2012.


Great credit goes to the many civil society groups and EU citizens who sustained support over five years for a fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. (Photo: OCEAN2012)

If effectively implemented, the new Common Fisheries Policy will end EU overfishing, restore fish stocks and provide greater financial support for responsible fisheries management. However, the agreed EMFF does allow subsidies for measures, such as vessel modernisation, which could contribute to overfishing even though the final text also provides more funds for data collection, control and enforcement.

“Considerable leadership and political courage were displayed in securing reform, but this does not guarantee an end to EU overfishing. That requires member states to set sustainable fishing limits and implement the discard ban, ending the wasteful practice of throwing dead fish back into the sea. EU citizens want to see more fish in our waters and healthy oceans,” Bellion said.

The new EMFF will come into force after its formal confirmation by fisheries ministers and its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union during May.

*The steering group of OCEAN2012 consists of the Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, Ecologistas en Acción, The Fisheries Secretariat, nef (new economics foundation), The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Seas at Risk.

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