EU-SSF CFP reform
Paving their way to sustainable livelihoods and thriving fishing communities,

Brussels Workshop

Common Fisheries Policy reform in the European Union and Small-Scale Fisheries:
Paving the way to sustainable livelihoods and thriving fishing communities

Monday 28th September, 2009, from 09.00 – 18.00
EESC Trèves Building, 74 rue de Trèves, 1040 Bruxelles

This workshop was organized by ICSF in partnership with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), and in cooperation with the Federación Galega de Confrarías de Pescadores (Spain), the Fundación Lonxanet (Spain), and Pêche et Développement (France).

Designed to be part of an EU wide process, given impetus by the European Commission’s Green Paper, on the review and reform Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the workshop included some 70 participants from Portugal (islands and mainland), Spain, France, Ireland, England, Wales, Netherlands and Iceland.

A key objective of the workshop was to put small-scale fisheries firmly on the EU CFP reform agenda. Up to now, despite its crucial role, small-scale fisheries have been accorded little consideration in the CFP, with social issues in fisheries largely overlooked. This workshop was intended to be a step towards correcting this situation.

Press release - EU Small-Scale Fisheries: Viable, Sustainable, and with a Promising Future, if…

Brussels, Belgium 23 October 2009. “Our sector can be viable, sustainable, and with a promising future, if given fair treatment and due recognition”, runs the preamble of the Statement drafted by over 60 participants from 8 countries who took part in the workshop “Common Fisheries Policy Reform in the European Union and Small-Scale Fisheries: Paving the way to sustainable livelihoods and thriving fishing communities” on September 28.

This highlights a major stumbling block to achieving responsible and sustainable fisheries in Europe. The majority sector, based on small-scale, artisanal, low input fisheries is poorly understood, and inadequately documented. In many cases sector catches are not properly recorded, and statistics are lacking on catch value, vessel numbers, number of operators, the amount of employment generated, the demographic profile, and the distribution of benefits. This means that the contribution of the sector to sustainable social and economic development and to environmental sustainability is not recognized let alone valued.

“We are practicing true conservation of fisheries”, says workshop participant Skipper Dave Cuthbert, who is Joint Chairman of the UK’s New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association (NUTFA). “We have very low carbon emissions and give strength to small outlying communities. The CFP has to change in our favour as we have all the ticks in the right boxes.”

According to Brian O’Riordan, ICSF’s Belgium Office Secretary, “The current situation puts the small-scale sector at an unfair disadvantage, marginalizing it in the decision taking process, and encouraging the dangerously simplistic notion that the problem with the Europe’s Common Fisheries Policy boils down to a problem of boats: “too many boats chasing too few fish”. Such a view, by targeting the number of boats, prejudices the development possibilities for small scale fisheries; promoting the scrapping of many small scale vessels, whilst leaving fewer, larger, more powerful, less sustainable vessels in their place”.

“It is vital that the voices of the small-scale fishing sector are heard in the CFP Reform process. But time is short,” says Brian O’Riordan. “The public consultation opened by the European Commission closes on December 31, by which time all interested parties must have submitted their views.”

A special website ( has been set up by the European Commission to provide information on how to have your say, and submissions are invited from all EU citizens with an interest in the future of Europe's fisheries: fishermen, fish processors, retailers, environmentalists, consumers, taxpayers.

They are asked to provide their visions for the future of Europe's fisheries and their ideas on how those visions can become reality. “The mosaic of views that will be collected will pave the way for a substantial overhaul of the way that EU fisheries are managed”, states the website.

The workshop Statement sketches out a “road map” of issues that must be addressed by the reform process of the CFP if small-scale fisheries are to realize their full potential. Small-scale fisheries represent the overwhelming majority of fishing activities in all EU Member States; provide the most employment; are highly adaptable; and lend themselves readily to integration into the diversity of regional particularities across Europe.

The Statement calls on the Maritime and Fisheries General Directorate (DG Mare) of the European Commission, on the European Parliament, on the Council of Ministers, on the Fishing Industry representatives, on the Trade Unions, on NGOs, on scientists, and on National and Regional Fisheries Authorities to provide small scale fishers with fair treatment and fair access to resources; to define small-scale fishing at the most appropriate level; to recognize and valorise small-scale fisheries; to secure small-scale fishing and fishing community rights; to apply a differentiated approach to small-scale fisheries; and to develop and apply appropriate measures for sustaining and diversifying livelihoods.

For further information: Brian O’Riordan, Secretary ICSF Belgium Office, Sentier des Rossignols 2, 1330 Rixensart, Belgium. Tel: 02 6525201. E mail: ; Yann Yvergniaux, E mail: