EU Science Hub

JRC contributes to annual analysis of European fishing fleet

May 02 2014

Based on the analysis by the JRC on behalf of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), the European Commission has recently published its annual report on the European fishing fleet. The report shows some progress towards achieving a balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities, although further work remains to be done to ensure that stocks are managed in order to achieve a Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).

Excessive fishing power is a major driver for overfishing. The recent reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) obliges Member States to adjust the fishing capacity of their fleets to their fishing opportunities over time.

The JRC has calculated technical, economic and biological indicators relevant to the balance between fleet capacity and fishing opportunities based on data submitted by Member States under the Data Collection Framework (DCF). The analysis includes 434 fleet segments where data for at least one indicator are available. These cover 97% of the reported value of landings made in 2011.

The indicators used for this report are related to the sustainable and viable operation of fishing fleets, such as whether fleets rely on stocks fished above MSY levels, or affect stocks at high biological risk, whether they are breaking even, economically sustainable or underutilised and whether they are inactive.


The STECF, of which the JRC constitutes the secretariat and to which it contributes with scientific expertise, has provided guidance to the Commission for the interpretation of these indicator values.

The provision of sound scientific advice to fisheries management is impossible without the availability of high-quality data on fish stocks, fishing activity and the fishing fleet. The JRC coordinates the scientific advice process of the Commission's advisory body, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). Moreover, the JRC collects, maintains and disseminates scientific fisheries data collected from EU Member States under the Data Collection Framework (DCF), which, after being assessed by teams of independent STECF experts, is used in the Common Fisheries Policy decision-making process.

Main messages of the annual report on the European fishing fleet

  • Current entries in the EU Fleet Register indicate that all Member States have complied with the levels of fishing capacity in tonnage and power. Overall the fishing capacity of the EU fleet was 16.4% below the capacity ceilings for tonnage and 10.4 % below the power ceilings.
  • On 31 December 2012 the EU fleet consisted of 76 023 vessels. The number of vessels has been reduced by 1.6 % while the tonnage and engine power decreased by 2% and 1% respectively in comparison with 2011.
  • In 2012 decommissioning with public aid was the most used management tool to reduce fishing capacity. From 1 January 2007 until 31 July of 2012, €464 million of European Fisheries Fund payments were allocated, equating to almost 3700 vessels ceasing fishing.