The Common Fisheries Policy

The EU Common Fisheries Policy aims to ensure sustainable fish stocks and healthy ecosystems that can secure fish products of good quality, provide the foundation for an economically viable industry, and contribute to maintaining employment in coastal communities.

Negotiations on the fisheries policy will dominate the agenda of the Council’s work. During the Presidency, Denmark will work for maximum momentum in the negotiations on the proposed new fisheries policy, which the Commission tabled in July 2011 with a focus on sustainability.

Sustainable fisheries outside the EU

The Danish Presidency wants the reform to include the principles of EU fisheries outside the EU. Future fisheries partnership agreements with third countries must strengthen the scientific assessments of the stocks concerned and promote improved control. Moreover, human rights and democracy clauses included in the partnerships and the work of regional fisheries management organisations should be strengthened.

Ban on fish discards

Sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources is a prerequisite for fishing as a viable economic activity in the future. Denmark will therefore work for the gradual introduction of a discard ban. Combined with the establishment of a management system, this is to ensure that all catches are taken ashore, documented by the use of cameras.

Simplification and innovation

The Danish Presidency will work for the implementation of simplification of the Common Fisheries Policy. Simplification can be achieved through a new catch quota management system. The Danish Presidency also wants the reform to address the question of balance between fleet size (capacity) and fishing opportunities.

The purpose of the Common Fisheries Policy
Because both fish and fishermen move across oceans and borders, it is obvious to EU Member States that fisheries policy is a common concern. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy is based on free and equal access to fish stocks in EU waters, in international waters and in third country waters where the EU has concluded agreements.

The EU fishing industry is the third largest in the world. It provides some 6.9 million tonnes of fish each year. Fishing and fish processing provide jobs for approximately 400,000 people in Europe. The EU fisheries policy must ensure sustainable fish stocks and a sustainable marine eco-system. This is a precondition for the EU to provide the foundation for a competitive fishing industry in the EU for the future.

To avoid the depletion of stocks, fishing is limited, among other things, through quotas distributed to individual countries for each stock. Quotas are negotiated every year so changes in stocks can be taken into account.

Main elements of the Common Fisheries Policy 
The last major reform of the Common Fisheries Policy was adopted in 2002, and the fisheries policy today consists of five main elements:

  • Resource and Conservation Policy: Regulations on catch limits in the form of quotas, restrictions on fishermen's time at sea, regulations on fishing gear, closed areas and minimum sizes for fish.
  • Fleet and Structural Policies: Provisions on the adjustment of fleet size, support for fisheries and aquaculture development.
  • Market Policy: Provisions aiming to ensure stable supplies of fish of good quality and to prevent large fluctuations in industry profits.
  • Control Policy: Ensures that the CFP rules are respected so the aims of the policy can be achieved.
  • The External Policy: Concerns EU fisheries beyond EU waters, including agreements in regional fisheries management organisations and agreements between the EU and third countries.