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Summaries of EU legislation

Oceans and fisheries

Europe is a maritime continent, with more than half of its territory covered by water and a coastline of 68,000 km. It has 1,200 ports and the world’s largest merchant fleet.

In recent years, economic activities at, near or by the sea have been booming. This includes fisheries, shipping and tourism but also offshore renewable energy production, aquaculture, blue biotechnology and other blue economy sectors.

The approach to a sustainable blue economy in the European Union​ (EU) brings all those activities together while protecting the environment in which they operate.

The common fisheries policy​ (CFP), introduced by the Treaty of Rome and enshrined in Articles 38–43 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, is a set of rules for conserving marine biological resources and managing and controlling European fisheries inside and outside EU waters.

The objective of the CFP is to ensure that fishing and aquaculture activities contribute to long-term environmental, economic and social sustainability. This includes ensuring

  • the traceability, security and quality of products marketed in the EU;
  • a fair standard of living for the fisheries sector, including small-scale fisheries;
  • stable markets;
  • the availability of food supplies at reasonable prices for consumers.

The most recent CFP reform dates back to 2013 and entered into force on 1 January 2014.