The fisheries policy of the EU

Photo: Archiv Aqua / Leo Kirchmaier

The general objective of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is to carry out fisheries and aquaculture activities sustainably and on a long-term basis.

Objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy

Moreover, as in the field of agricultural policy the EU has set itself the goal to ensure those persons working in the field of fisheries an adequate standard of living and consumers the supply with safe and healthy products at appropriate prices.

The resource fish shall be managed according to the precautionary principle on the basis of sound scientific findings, in order to ensure that it will also be available for the next generations. Catching methods, which are harmful to the environment and to resources, shall be terminated.

Scope of application of the Common Fisheries Policy

The scope of the CFP ranges from activities in the Member States (“territorial waters”) in the EU waters, (which means up to 200 nautical miles from the coast) to fisheries activities by EU ships in waters of other states and on the open sea (“international waters”. It does not include freshwater fisheries in rivers and lakes However, it can be supported by funds from the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Funds (EMFAF).

An important point is the exclusive competence of the EU for fisheries. This means that the Member States, in a similar way as in the field of agricultural policy, cannot simply take national measures or conclude unauthorised fisheries agreements with other states. Moreover, fisheries stocks do not abide by national borders. Therefore, the CFP is one of the most communitised fields of policy of the EU. The Regulation EU/1380/2013 is the legal basis of the CFP.

Aquaculture in the Common Fisheries Policy

The basic principles of the CFP apply also to aquaculture. Nevertheless, there is no competence of the EU. However, the European Commission lays down non-binding strategic guidelines on common priorities and goals for the development of a sustainable aquaculture. These strategic guidelines take account of the respective starting positons and the different conditions in the Member States and constitute the basis for multi-annual national strategic plans. They include the goals of the respective Member State and the measures and schedules for the implementation of these goals.