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Summaries of EU Legislation

Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries

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Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries


Establishing an action plan to improve or maintain biodiversity status and preventing biodiversity loss due to fisheries and aquaculture activities.


Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 to the Council and the European Parliament: Biodiversity Action Plan for Fisheries (Volume IV).


This communication is the fourth volume of the Commission Communication of 27 March 2001 on Biodiversity Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation. This volume is specifically dedicated to fisheries.


In recent decades, the rate of decline and even disappearance of species and related habitats, ecosystems and genes (i.e. biodiversity) has increased throughout the world. This loss of biodiversity is deplorable in itself and has adverse effects on economic development since it is the basis for the food, fibres, drink, medicines, industrial processes, agriculture and fisheries activities we rely on for our survival.

In February 1998, the Commission adopted a communication on a Community Biodiversity Strategy. This strategy already provided for special action plans for the areas of activity concerned to be set up and implemented. This communication sets out the Action Plans in the areas of Conservation of Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries, and Development and Economic Cooperation.

The Community Biodiversity Strategy and the Action Plans are covered by the European Union commitment to achieve sustainable development and integrate environmental concerns into other sectoral policies and other policy areas.

Indicators will be used for the long-term monitoring and benchmarking of Action Plan implementation. These indicators, which still have to be specified by the Commission with the help of the Member States, scientists and organisations concerned, will be measured locally and results compared.

The European Community clearing house mechanism (EC CHM) is an invaluable resource for exchanging information on biodiversity which should be supported and developed further.

The Commission is currently identifying biodiversity conservation research needs so as to include them in the Sixth European Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

The Commission plans to set up a Committee of Experts on Biodiversity which would disseminate information and strive to ensure that European and national measures were complementary. Representatives of NGOs, industry, associations and any other interested parties would be invited to attend committee meetings as observers.

Although the actual impact of fisheries on biodiversity has not been fully identified, the Commission Communication of 14 July 1999 on Fisheries Management and Nature Conservation in the Marine Environment [COM (1999) 363] highlights the interactions between fishing and the environment and puts forward a strategic European framework for the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources and biodiversity.


The plan identified the following priorities to maintain or restore biodiversity threatened by fishing or aquaculture activities:

  • promoting the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks;
  • promoting the control of exploitation rates and the establishment of technical conservation measures to support the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks;
  • reducing the impact of fisheries activities on non-target species and on marine and coastal ecosystems;
  • avoiding aquaculture practices that may affect habitat conservation.

This Action Plan should lead to the application of the precautionary principle as set out in the Commission Communication of December 2000 on the application of the precautionary principle and multiannual arrangements for setting TACs [COM(2000)803].

The communication proposes measures to reduce fisheries activities, technical measures and measures to intensify research and monitoring.

In the field of aquaculture, the communication proposes measures to reduce its environmental impact, to limit the introduction of alien invasive species, to protect animal health and promote further research.

Additional key elements

Education, training, raising awareness and providing information are essential complements to the effective implementation of this action plan. The communication proposes:

  • information campaigns and other awareness-raising activities;
  • a communication on applying the precautionary principle in fisheries management;
  • vocational training to improve ecosystem management;
  • improving monitoring and assessment capabilities.

The development of the new common fisheries policy for 2002 offers an excellent opportunity to review the issues raised by this plan, and to introduce new measures or enhance existing measures.

Annex II summarises the objectives, actions and instruments proposed in the communication, and gives an indicative timetable for their implementation.

4) deadlines for the implementation of the legislation in the member states

Not required

5) date of entry into force (if different from the above)

Not required

6) references

COM(2001) 162 finalNot published in the Official Journal

7) follow-up work

8) commission implementing measures

Last updated: 08.05.2001