Help Print this page 

Summaries of EU Legislation

Title and reference
Fisheries: fisheries and poverty reduction

Summaries of EU legislation: direct access to the main summaries page.

This summary is archived.
Languages and formats available
HTML html ES html DE html EN html FR
Multilingual display
Miscellaneous information
  • Archived: true

Fisheries: fisheries and poverty reduction


To set out the orientations and guidelines for the Community policy on fisheries and developing countries.

2) ACT

Communication from the Commission of 8 November 2000 to the Council and the European Parliament: Fisheries and Poverty Reduction [COM(2000)724 final - Not published in the Official Journal].


Fisheries and developing countries

The activities linked to fishing and aquaculture are of great importance to developing countries for several reasons. Fishing is an important source of jobs, nutrition, food security and income for these countries which export their products to the developed countries, and especially to the European Union. The fisheries sector has a key role to play in the fight against poverty, the main goal of the European Community's development policy. Given that fishing is an activity that touches on several policies (development, trade, etc.), the Commission must ensure the consistency of the activities linked to fishing in all fields. Greater complementarity between the policies of the European Community and those of the Member States is also vital.

Fisheries as international trade

Trade in fish and aquaculture products is the most international form of trade of all food products. As a result, the sustainability of the fishery resources of developing countries affects both developed and developing countries, and in particular the European Union. In fact, 50% to 60% of the value of world catches, a proportion of which is made by European fishermen thanks to fisheries agreements, is produced in waters under jurisdiction of developing countries. The sustainability of fishery resources is a major challenge for the European Union, which is no longer able to meet the demand of European consumers from waters under European jurisdiction. The European Community has concluded fisheries agreements with 26 countries, 17 of which are developing countries. These agreements enable European fishermen to fish in the waters of third countries in order to meet the growing demand in the Union. The Union therefore has a key position as a major producer, net importer and consumer. Consequently, the European Community's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which has a major impact on developing countries, must take account of the conditions that enable these countries to manage and optimise their own fishery resources.


The Community must adopt a global approach linking the sustainability of resources and poverty reduction. It is important to maintain a balance in terms of the interests of all the parties, in both the developed and developing countries. In this respect, the policy must ensure to balance:

  • solidarity with the developing countries;
  • commercial interest by continuing to import large quantities of fish in order to meet the demand of European consumers and by ensuring consumer protection;
  • economic and social interests by supporting certain European fishing communities in continuing fishing activities in distant waters;
  • environmental concern, considering seas and oceans as a world resource and a common heritage of humanity.

In order to pursue the main objectives, the Commission sets out guidelines for Community intervention in this sector. These are drawn up on the one hand for developing countries where fisheries constitute a priority in the development strategy, and on the other hand for countries with which the Community has signed fisheries agreements.

Countries where fisheries constitute a priority in the development strategy

For certain developing countries, the fisheries sector has been identified as a priority sector in their development strategy. For these countries, the Community policy should respect the following guidelines:

  • supporting the formulation and implementation of sectoral policies and programmes.The country strategy papers form the framework for interventions;
  • defining the roles of all donors;
  • giving priority to cooperation at regional level since the problems and challenges in this sector often have a regional dimension.

Countries with which the Community has signed fisheries agreements

A key aspect of the Community's policy in relation to these countries is reinforcing the necessary coherence between its development policy and the external aspects of its Common Fisheries Policy. To this end, the following guidelines have been drawn up:

  • ensuring respect for Articles 61 and 62 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.According to these articles, coastal states with fish stocks should establish the permissible catch volume and, where national fleet capacity is below the permissible catch volume, third country fishing fleets are allowed to fish for the remainder;
  • reinforcing the principle of sustainable management of natural resources by applying the Convention.An increasing portion of the European budget devoted to fisheries agreements must be targeted towards specific institutional support measures, monitoring and control, and conservation of biological resources;
  • applying the principle of good governance to financial resources linked to fisheries agreements.In the interest of transparency, the Community should allocate financial contributions directly to the national budget and should promote the consultation of traditional fishing communities so that they are given real influence on the use of funds;
  • identifying and evaluating the various Community interventions carried out as part of the development policy and as part of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).It is important to avoid duplication and to ensure effective coherence. The interventions must help to reduce poverty, which is the main objective of the Community's development policy;
  • informing and encouraging the participation of civil society, especially Southern-based professional fisheries organisations, in the preparation and implementation of the agreements.

Internationally agreed principles on aquatic resource-based development

Several major directing principles, which guide action in development cooperation in the area of aquatic resource-based development, have been emphasised in a number of international declarations. With the acceptance of these principles, an international consensus has been built up on their application. The European Community has agreed on many occasions that it will apply these principles. They are of course integrated into the Community's policy in this field. Nine of these principles are presented below in the chronological order of the fora in which they were adopted

Montego Bay, 1982

The Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea led to the signature of a Convention. This UN Convention entered into force on 16 November 1994. Its purpose is to favour the peaceful use of seas and oceans, the equitable and efficient use of their resources, the conservation of their biological resources and the study, protection and preservation of the marine environment:

  • Principle 1Coastal states must favour an optimal use of biological resources in their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). In doing so, they must pursue the preservation and regeneration of exploited species stocks to levels securing the maximum constant yield. They must take into consideration ecological factors and the economic needs of coastal populations living from fisheries as well as the specific needs of developing states;
  • Principle 2Coastal states determine their capacity of exploiting biological resources. If this capacity is less than the total admissible catch volume, they authorise other states, through agreements or other arrangements, to exploit the surplus of admissible catch volume.

Rio de Janeiro, June 1992

At the Rio Summit on Environment and Development, a Declaration and an action Agenda (Agenda 21) were adopted which include several recommendations and principles for application in the management of fishery resources:

  • Principle 3Environmental concerns must be integrated in all development processes in order to achieve sustainable development;
  • Principle 4The precautionary principle must be applied;
  • Principle 5Local communities must be made responsible and play a vital role in the management of resources.

ROME, October 1995

During the 28th Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries was approved by consensus. This optional code was prepared by the FAO as a result of the impetus provided by the Rio Summit to the consideration of sustainable development. It is designed to apply the principles of sustainable management to the resource. It adopts and defines the precautionary principle applied to the development of fishing. The following principles, which reinforce or supplement those already listed, should be noted:

  • Principle 6The right to fish implies an obligation to do so in a responsible manner; the fishing effort must be proportional to the production capacity of the fishery resources;
  • Principle 7States must cooperate at sub-regional, regional and world level to promote the conservation and management of resources. Increased pressure on fish and a better knowledge of stocks will make the joint management of common stocks a priority;
  • Principle 8The importance of the contribution of small-scale fishing to employment and security of food supplies must be recognised, and the rights of fishermen and workers in the fishing industry must be protected. Priority must be given to the nutritional needs of local communities. The management of fishing will progressively include the direct involvement of those involved in the fisheries business, the allocation of user rights, decentralisation of allocation functions without the government abandoning its role of administrator, and self-financing of the sector.

KYOTO, December 1995

At the Kyoto International Conference on the sustainable contribution of fishing to food security, 95 states and the European Community affirmed their awareness of the fact that if appropriate measures were not taken the considerable pressures on aquatic resources as a result of environmental problems, demographic growth and over-fishing, to name a few, could impose constraints on the fisheries sector as regards its essential contribution to the security of food supplies. The declaration adopted at the end of this conference set out the following principle:

  • Principle 9International trade in fish must not have an adverse affect on the environment and on food security for local populations.

4) implementing measures

5) follow-up work

Last updated: 08.04.2002