EU Science Hub

Assessing the importance of fisheries in EU coastal communities

Oct 03 2013

A map with around 1700 fishing ports in the EU, indicating the relevance of fishing activities in terms of employment, has been published in a recent JRC co-authored article. This study fills in the gaps of available socio-economic data for fisheries at local level, and expands possibilities to perform regional analyses in support of the new Common Fishery Policy. The new policy is committed to actively promoting growth and improving employment opportunities in coastal fisheries and aquaculture-dependent communities. The findings also complement other initiatives to monitor the socio-economic performance of the sector on a regular basis.

Many coastal communities rely on fishing activities as their main source of income and employment, having limited possibilities for economic diversification. For targeting policy measures and evaluating the impacts in socio-economic terms, it is essential to identify areas that are most dependent on fisheries. The study showed that in 388 communities, fishing activities generate more than 1% of the total employment in the surrounding areas against a mere 0.1% when considering national or regional statistics. Around 54% of total fisheries employment is located in these highly dependent communities.

Geographical analysis methods and a high resolution population density map produced by the JRC were used to disaggregate spatial socio-economic data and national statistics from EUROSTAT, the EU Data Collection Framework and the EU Fishing Fleet Register, which were then attributed to each fishing port in the EU. Employment associated to fishing was estimated from the composition of the fishing fleet and was compared with the general employment gravitating towards the fishing ports to get an estimate on how much each community is dependent on fisheries. By considering a geographical and local perspective the importance of fisheries emerges more clearly than when considering aggregated statistics at national or regional level.