Catch of the Day – April 2024

News about fair fisheries, healthy seas and vibrant fishing communities


∗  Join your voice to ours ∗

Sign our letter and call on the EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans & Fisheries to make fishing fair and to support practices better for people and planet by reallocating resources and opportunities.

A delegation of fishers and supporters will deliver the petition to the European Commission in Brussels on 21 May! 


French Bluefin Tuna Quota: Watershed ruling in favour of small-scale fishers 

In 2017, a group of small-scale fishers from the French Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts challenged the Ministerial Decree issued by the French Ministry of Agriculture and Food for allocating the Bluefin tuna quota.  After an initial favourable ruling in June 2021, followed by an appeal lodged by the State in September 2021, the Administrative Court of Appeal (ACA) in Toulouse confirmed that the French Rural and Maritime Fishing Code is not consistent with EU legislation since it ignores the environmental criterion required by Art.17 of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This is an outstanding achievement in the fight for a fair allocation of fishing opportunities in France and Europe, and the group will continue its efforts to ensure that the legal decision leads to proper implementation. More information in the PR here. 

The curtain falls on NUTFA, the organisation representing small-scale fishers in England and Wales

In a clear-headed letter shared with the sector and broader public, Jerry Percy, Director of the New Under Ten Fishermen’s Association [NUTFA], announced the closure of the organisation that has represented the under-ten sector of the industry for many years. Unfortunately, the relentless efforts of the people running NUTFA were insufficient to ensure its survival, especially considering the lack of proper support from the UK government and other management bodies. The news led to emotional and passionate reactions across social media, as well as a general disappointment for the lack of recognition of the value of small-scale fisheries for the UK economy and coastal communities’ survival.

The decarbonisation of the sector is a priority on the EU agenda

Energy-efficient fisheries were at the top of EU fisheries matters in April. LIFE partnered with ClientEarth in the framework of the Decarbonise Now campaign and joined a webinar on the skills needed to face decarbonisation. The online briefing took place just ahead of the DGMare organised event “EU Energy Transition in Fisheries“, shedding light on small-scale fishers’ perspectives and demonstrating the significant potential of that fleet segment in building greener fisheries . It was also an opportunity for LIFE to issue and promote its latest report, “Energy Transition and Decarbonisation of the fishing fleet: the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) ‘s Perspective“. The document is a response to the “Communication on the Energy Transition” launched in February 2023 by the European Commission and provides LIFE’s perspective on a just transition towards carbon-neutral fisheries with small-scale fishers as key actors to safeguard and restore marine biodiversity effectively. 

Redefining small-scale fisheries for the Advisory Councils (ACs): an important subject for a fair and balanced representation

Back in August 2023, the Baltic Sea Advisory Council (BSAC) requested some guidance from the European Commission on how to define small-scale fisheries. Amendments to EU rules on ACs (namely Article 4(7) of the amending Delegated Regulation (EU) 2022/204) require to take account of the share of small-scale fleets within the fishing sector of the Member States concerned in their membership. DG Mare’s response was that it is at the discretion of each Advisory Council to decide on. To ensure a fair representation of the small-scale fleet in BSAC as well as in other ACs, LIFE encourages policy-makers and stakeholders to adopt an approach, based on 1)  the EMFF/ EMFAF definition (fishing vessels of an overall length of less than 12 metres and not using towed fishing gear) and 2) defining small-scale fishers “bona fide” organisations as those having a majority (at least 90%) of members using vessels under 12 metres with non-towed gears, taking into account that some vessels in an association may be smaller or larger than 12 metres. 

Exchange of Information and Views with DG Mare on the CFP Evaluation, Social Indicators and Article 17

On 24 March, Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius announced that DG Mare will conduct an evaluation of the Common Fisheries Policy. LIFE met with DG Mare unit concerned (Unit D.3) to clarify how to engage in the process in a productive way, namely via the series of stakeholders public consultations held during late spring and autumn of this year. Back in February, DG Mare also launched a survey on the development of social indicators to be used in socioeconomic reports and on the allocation of fishing opportunities, to issue a vademecum on the implementation of Art.17 across EU Members States “to improve transparency, promote sustainable fishing practices and support small-scale and coastal fishers”. Amongst other things, LIFE advocates for a share of at least 20% of the national quota to be allocated to and ring-fenced for small-scale fishers. LIFE also highlights the urgent need for the set up of a detailed and binding implementation plan for Article 17, alongside clear guidelines on how to develop and apply transparent and objective criteria to reward sustainable fishing practices and to protect ecosystems and local communities. Additional information is available in the report published in 2021 by LIFE and Our Fish.

Muireann Kavanagh: Teen apprentice fisher brings Irish Islands fight for fair low-impact  fishing to Strasbourg

Young Irish fisher Muireann Kavanagh travelled to Strasbourg with her father Neily Kavanagh, with the support of LIFE Member Irish Islands Marine Resource Organization (IIMRO) for a series of meetings facilitated by Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus. She met with Members of the European Parliament and highlighted the impact of the recent closure of the line-caught pollack fishery on the island and other communities. An issue also affecting the small-scale fleet in the UK and France, especially young fishers who recently entered the business and for whom pollack accounts for most of their catches. In particular Muireen highlighted the injustice which allocates fishing rights to international factory trawlers that catch many tonnes of this prized fish as by-catch, but bans locals from direct fishing by hook and line fishing, that catches just a few kilos at a time.

New EU Agri-Food Chain Observatory to reinforce the position of farmers and fishers in the food supply chain

The European Commission has launched the creation of the EU agri-food chain Observatory (AFCO). The platform will gather up to 80 members, representing national authorities in charge of agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture or the food supply chain. It will have the mandate to evaluate production costs, margins, trading practices, and value added. The application process for joining the observatory is open until 10 May. 

International Panel for Oceans Sustainability (IPOS): LIFE underlines the role of communities in a holistic approach to sustainability  

On 9 April, in Barcelona, LIFE co-hosted the event: “Shaping IPOS: southern perspectives on science-policy interface” – held in the framework of the #2024OceanDecadeConference led by UNESCO and hosted by the Government of Spain. IPOS aims to become a gateway connecting knowledge and decisions for a sustainable ocean, with a mandate similar to that of the IPCC in the climate context. LIFE highlighted that “sustainability” should also take into account the well-being of communities, their dependency on the ocean, and fair access and use of common goods. It also welcomed IPOS inclusiveness by taking into account the voices of small-scale fishers from the start of the process. 

Coming up :

14-15/5 EU Arctic Forum and Indigenous Peoples’ Dialogue: an event held by the European Commission in Brussels

29-30/5 European Maritime Day: the 2024 edition of the European Maritime Day will take place in Svendborg, Denmark. In this framework, on May the 30th, LIFE will be a key speaker at the European Blue Forum Annual Meeting, to which you can still register at the following link. 


New members on Board!


LIFE is extremely pleased to welcome Mulleres Salgadas, an association of shellfish gatherers based in Galicia (Spain) ! Learn more about their work and aspirations in the interview with their Executive Secretary, Sandra Amezaga. 


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