Report: How EU Can Help Halt Climate & Biodiversity Crisis and Create Jobs by Seizing Fisheries Opportunity


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Presentation of Report Launch: Empowering EU Fisheries Policy to Restore Marine Health, Tackle Climate Change and Create Jobs

Brussels, 19 April 2023:- Our Fish today called for the EU to implement a key component of its Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), in order to secure a just and sustainable future for EU fishing communities, as a new report demonstrates how greater employment potential can be generated by awarding EU fishing quotas according to environmental and social criteria. [1]

The report, authored by Vertigo Lab and commissioned by the Our Fish campaign, Empowering EU Fisheries Policy to Restore Marine Health, Tackle Climate Change and Create Jobs, finds that “the reallocation of [EU fishing] quotas in favour of environmental and social criteria appears to positively impact employment”, and details how EU Member States and the European Commission could realise the potential of the CFP through the full implementation the policy’s Article 17, which states that fishing access should be allocated by EU member states according to transparent economic, social and environmental criteria [2,3].

The report also reveals that fishing practices that have a lower impact on the marine environment also have a positive socio-economic impact. By examining case studies in Ireland, France, Germany, Sweden, Poland and Denmark, the report reveals that allocating fishing quota based on environmental criteria can create more jobs, keep wealth within the EU and simultaneously lower the ecosystem and carbon impacts of fishing, which further benefits dependent communities and helps the EU meet its international climate commitments.

“The results are encouraging for the transition to sustainable fishing”, said co-author Morgan Raffray of Vertigo Lab. “In our case studies, quota reallocation leads to job creation whilst it does not impact the economic output capabilities of the fishing sector.”

“The EU is sitting on a golden opportunity to revitalise the fortunes of the EU fishing sector”, said Our Fish Programme Director Rebecca Hubbard. “This report shows that if member states such as France, Ireland and Germany, gave half of the quota from destructive fishing fleets to lower-impact fleets, they could create more jobs, maintain strong economic outputs, keeping more wealth within the EU, and improving the future security for Europe’s fishing communities”.

“The EU has made commitments to environmental and climate action that are also critical to ensuring a healthy ocean for fishers and all citizens, yet these promises are being disregarded in everyday fisheries management, with the most destructive fishing fleets being automatically given the most access to fish, based on a status quo from a past era” added Hubbard. “The European Commission and EU Member States have the tools in the Common Fisheries Policy to rapidly turn this situation around. They need to immediately start driving the transition to a more socially fair, environmentally sensitive, and low carbon fishing fleet, and this report demonstrates how they can do it.”


The European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) primarily seeks to deliver the sustainability of fisheries and to guarantee stable income and jobs for fishers. This is ensured through limits on numbers of fish which can be killed (caught and landed) through the allocation of Total Allowable Catches (TAC). These TACs are distributed among member states, which then in turn are allocated to individual fishers.

The 2013 reformed CFP included an Article 17 which stipulates that access to fishing should be allocated by member states according to economic, social and environmental criteria. However, the CFP does not include criteria for carrying this out, and the European Commission has not obliged member states to report on this in a uniform and regular way.

Download: Empowering EU Fisheries Policy to Restore Marine Health, Tackle Climate Change and Create Jobs

Presentation of Report Launch: Empowering EU Fisheries Policy to Restore Marine Health, Tackle Climate Change and Create Jobs



Dave Walsh, Our Fish, +34 691 826 764



[1] Empowering EU Fisheries Policy to Restore Marine Health, Tackle Climate Change and Create Jobs

[2] Based in Bordeaux, France, Vertigo Lab is a “think-and-do-tank on environmental economics”

[3] Article 17 of the Common Fisheries Policy:

Criteria for the allocation of fishing opportunities by Member States

When allocating the fishing opportunities available to them, as referred to in Article 16, Member States shall use transparent and objective criteria including those of an environmental, social and economic nature. The criteria to be used may include, inter alia, the impact of fishing on the environment, the history of compliance, the contribution to the local economy and historic catch levels. Within the fishing opportunities allocated to them, Member States shall endeavour to provide incentives to fishing vessels deploying selective fishing gear or using fishing techniques with reduced environmental impact, such as reduced energy consumption or habitat damage.

About Our Fish

Our Fish is working to end overfishing and restore a healthy ocean ecosystem.

By collaborating with others, and deploying robust evidence, we are calling for an end to overfishing as a critical and significant action to address the biodiversity and climate crisis.