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Sustainable Fisheries and Poverty Reduction


FisheriesCooperating on fisheries is another way of encouraging sustainable development and reducing poverty in developing countries.

More than 150 million poor people in the world depend on fisheries for their livelihood - fishing, unloading, processing and distribution, building and maintaining fishing boats.

Fisheries are also central to food security and health in many developing countries, with fish providing on average 19% of animal protein intake - over 25% in many of the poorest countries.

Fisheries provide an important source of foreign exchange, through trade and fisheries agreements, and international trade in fish is booming. Between 50 and 60% of the value of world catches is produced in the waters of developing countries, and more than 50% of catches in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) waters are made by foreign vessels. Most exports are of products with high commercial value (frozen shrimps and prawns, tuna and frozen fillets), consumed in developed countries.

Fisheries and poverty reduction

With skyrocketing demand from the developed world leaving some 75% of the major marine fish stocks fully exploited, overexploited or depleted, more than a billion people in 40 developing countries are in danger of losing their main source of protein. This dilemma goes right to the heart of the matter: balancing the risk of over-exploitation and the sector's potential to help reduce poverty.

The EU funds fisheries initiatives ? mostly covering regions rather than individual countries ? in ACP countries, aiming at:

  • helping coastal and island states to formulate and implement fisheries development policies
  • better management of aquatic resources.
See also the Commission's 2000 policy paper on Fisheries and Poverty Reduction


The coherence issue

Fisheries agreements between the EU and developing countries have traditionally focused on access for EU vessels. But now the emphasis is on partnership, development and sustainable fisheries, in line with the integrated framework for fisheries partnership agreements

Reasons for the change of focus

  • Development issues have to be taken into account in all relevant EU policies ? including fisheries policy. Fisheries agreements bring in significant income for developing countries ? they account for up to 30% of government revenues in some countries ? so it is important that agreements are consistent with those countries' development strategies.
  • The EU is committed to the goal of sustainable fisheries worldwide ? specifically to maintaining stocks at levels that produce the maximum sustainable yield or restoring depleted stocks to those levels by 2015. The EU also continues to support implementation of the FAO code of conduct for responsible fisheries and the FAO conservation and management compliance agreement.
  • The EU's common fisheries policy seeks development that is sustainable in environmental, economic and social terms, both inside and outside EU waters.

When concluding fisheries partnership agreements with developing countries, the EU aims to:

  • use only surplus stocks in their coastal waters, following sound scientific and technical adviceFisheries
  • recognise their right to peruse policies aimed at increasing the local added value of their fisheries sector
  • work in partnership with to develop their fisheries industry (particularly control, monitoring and surveillance, and stock assessment)
  • ensure that the EU's financial contributions to developing countries are transparent and comply with the EU?s own budget rules and development policy
  • follow the logic of the country development strategies drawn up under the Cotonou Agreement between the EU and ACP countries.
  • Before negotiating partnership agreements, the EU carries out sustainability impact assessments and monitors the situation to make sure it is properly aware of the financial, economic, institutional, environmental and social implications of the fisheries agreement for the partner country.


Last update: 17/02/2012 | Top