Sustainable Fisheries Allocation

The current climate crisis requires increased efforts from all sectors to achieve carbon neutrality. Transitioning to renewable and low-carbon energy sources is crucial to achieving a climate-neutral EU fishing industry, but can require a considerable amount of time and investment, and fishing’s impact on the climate crisis is more than just burning fuels. Biodiversity loss and climate change is intertwined and mutually reinforcing, where fishing has a direct impact on not only direct greenhouse gas emissions but also on the marine environment and processes through which carbon cycles and is sequestered in the seafloor. 


In the meantime, it is imperative that EU Member States give priority to allocating fishing opportunities to methods that are more selective, less destructive, and have a lower environmental impact with greater social benefits. 


Under the EU Common Fisheries Policy, EU Member States have defined common rules which aim to ensure that fishing activities are environmentally sustainable in the long term, and are managed in a way that is consistent with the objectives of achieving economic and social benefits. Article 17 of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) calls for Member States to allocate fishing opportunities using transparent and objective criteria, including social, environmental and economic factors. This may involve, for example, considering fishing gear and techniques with minimal environmental impact and reduced energy consumption. It also requires Member States to endeavour to provide incentives for fishing vessels utilising selective gears and fishing techniques that decrease environmental impact. However, political will to do so appears remains lacking.


The current allocation systems by Member States concentrate fishing opportunities in the hands of those who fish the most, rather than those who fish the most sustainably, at the price of small-scale, low-impact fishermen and both biodiversity and climate mitigation and adaptation.


By prioritising the allocation of fishing opportunities to more sustainable fishing methods, the EU can make headway towards fishing that has a lower impact on the marine environment. This approach will incentivise those who fish sustainably and provide substantial benefits to society. This transition can aid in addressing the biodiversity emergency, mitigating and adapting to climate change and fortifying coastal communities.