The EU's contribution to these global goals is substantial. It is firmly committed to eradicating poverty worldwide, and to doing so in a way that promotes sustainable solutions for future generations. This strategy has proven effective in tackling poverty and human rights abuses – but it also applies to fisheries, as highlighted during the European Year of Development's thematic month of food security in October.
Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture ensure food and nutrition security in some of the world's poorest regions. In West Africa, Asian coastal countries and many small island states, the proportion of total dietary protein from fish can reach 60% or more. Fish also contains micronutrients and fatty acids that are essential for vulnerable parts of populations like children and pregnant women.
Moreover, fisheries and trade in fisheries products contribute to alleviating poverty. Around the world, some 660 to 880 million people – 12% of the world population – depend on fisheries and aquaculture for their livelihood. Fish represent one of the most traded food commodities, with about 40% of fishery and aquaculture production entering international trade and a yearly export value of more than €115 billion. Trade of fish and fishery products provides an important source of income for many countries, particularly developing countries.
However, more needs to be done to ensure that fisheries around the world are equitable, profitable, and sustainable. And since the EU is not only the world's largest aid donor, but also the world’s largest market for seafood, it has a clear responsibility to support developing countries in tackling existing challenges.
Since 2007, the EU's development policy has financed more than 50 projects in the field of fisheries and aquaculture, totalling €230 million over the period 2007-2014. Projects range from national to global, with 50% in Africa and the rest in Asia and Pacific. (Some of the EU's fisheries success stories are outlined in the box accompanying this article.)
The EU's fisheries policy is also doing its bit to protect and preserve the ocean's resources for future generations: both at home by focussing on scientific advice and an ecosystem approach, and abroad by bringing these principles to Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.
Moreover, the EU has established partnerships with developing countries to secure fish stocks for future generations and to stamp out illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements cover 7% of total EU catches, with a budget of €135m a year. 22% of that EU investment goes directly to technical support measures, for instance to modernise and upgrade developing countries' fisheries and to tackle the scourge of IUU fishing, which destroys the livelihoods of honest fishermen.
In fisheries, as in its development policy, the EU is leading the way towards greater sustainability and more international cooperation. In doing so, it is paving the way for an inclusive, fair, transparent and law-based exploitation of fisheries resources – to ensure healthy people and healthy seas, everywhere.