Posted on April 23, 2021

EU fisheries & the SDGs

World Wild Fund for Nature
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MarFishEco was involved in the 2019 World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) comprehensive report on the EU’s fishing activity in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of other countries as well as in the High Seas. The report, Out of Sight Out of Mind, which was produced with the financial contribution of the European Union, considers the EU’s fishing activity outside of EU waters in relation to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. MarFishEco co-led the project along with Dr Will Davies from the New Economics Foundation (NEF).

The project evolved from the consistent difficulty of evaluating the sustainability of the EU’s external fishing practices due to lack of formal documentation and scientific data as well as many cases of misreporting and continued problems of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The United Nations Agenda 2030 and 17 SDGs represented a useful framework for the team to evaluate the contribution of the CFP’s external dimension to implementing sustainable development, particularly SDG 14 ‘Life Below Water’, which is the most relevant to fisheries policies like the CFP.

The team undertook a comprehensive review of the CFP’s external dimension, the SDGs, and the role of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), clearly illustrating where strengths and deficiencies lay when considering Europe’s fishing activities outside of EU waters. Case studies include Spain and France’s involvement in SFPAs, and the role of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) in achieving the SDGs.

The team at MarFishEco and New Economics Foundation gave specific recommendations, highlighting areas for the sustainable improvement of the EU’s external fleet that will align with the SDGs. These recommendations largely focus on increasing data collection and information sharing platforms, as well as enhanced accountability, transparency, and compliance of management measures through the installation of monitoring technology that works to reduce IUU and human rights abuses.

The MarFishEco team are delighted to have assisted in the evaluation of an often-overlooked area of EU fishing activity and are excited that our recommendations will aid the EU’s external fleet in moving towards a more sustainable future.

View peer review paper.