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Baltic and North Sea (BANS) project financed by the European Commission

Small-scale fisheries play a vital role in the European Union in terms of employment, economic and social contribution to coastal communities and sustainable management of marine resources.  In line with the requirements of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, the European Commission is particularly attentive to the situation of coastal fleets and is aware that adequate support is vital for the growth and prosperity of the sector.

It is therefore with great pleasure that the LIFE platform has become one of the beneficiaries of this initative and is now leading the project „Support measures for small-scale fishing in the Baltic and North Sea” , having as a main objective to strengthen the small-scale, low impact fishers networks in the Region.

To succeed in this vital task, local fishers’ organizations can rely on a Baltic and North Sea Coordinator with a strong background in fisheries management and policy representation, specifically employed to this end. LIFE staff are supporting, advising and coordinating small-scale fishers’ organizations and enabling effective cooperation with stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The project has already touched a number of Member States in the Region, including Poland, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Estonia.

The empowerment of small-scale fisher organizations is driven and assured within the framework of the project by focusing on several priorities:

  • Building the capacity of small-scale fishers in the region so that their voices and concerns are heard and heeded in regional fora, especially the Advisory Councils;
  • Collaborating regularly with small-scale fishers in the area to understand their situation, help them in identifying their needs so that they can define their common agenda & messages;
  • Facilitation in building common positions and organizing joint actions;
  • Encouraging small-scale fishers in the area to work together, to exchange experience and best practice;
  • Keeping small-scale fishers in the area informed of the policy developments at all relevant levels;
  • Advising on the solutions to the problems they face in daily operations
LIFE platform staff
Fishermen in an exchange next to two beached vessels
Three fishermen in icy waters
A LIFE certificate presentation

A number of results have been achieved, including:

  • Numerous meetings with small-scale fishers’ organizations from the area of operation to understand their situation in-depth and support them as needed, both at meetings and in subsequent contacts – with a view to creating a functioning regional network
  • Active participation in numerous meetings and activities of Baltic Sea and North Sea Advisory Councils
  • Assistance in a successful bid for one organization to join Baltic Sea Advisory Council
  • Facilitation of 3 Member Organizations joining LIFE
  • Organization of a major Workshop aimed at getting small-scale fishers acquainted with the EU Institutions and decision-making process in fisheries, the nature of Advisory Councils, European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, quota management systems and Landing Obligation (see media below)
  • Production of five short tutorial films corresponding to the main topics of the Workshop described above
  • Assistance in the elaboration by small-scale fishers concerned of an Action Plan for the Western Baltic cod stock in view of the 2017 ICES advice for the stock;
  • Assistance in the elaboration by small-scale fishers concerned of an Action Plan for Seabass, in view of 2017 ICES advice for the stock

Access the official mid-term report by clicking here.

Results so far (October 2017)

Conclusions from the workshop on ACs held in Hamburg on 2/10



Media from the BANS events

Pilot Project ‘Support Measures for Small-Scale Fishing’ – Baltic and North Sea – Agreement Number MARE/2014/04 – SI2.727556


Reports Produced by the Project


The Pros and Cons of Creating Producer organizations (PO) for Mediterranean Small Scale Fishers


Co-management for Small-scale Fisheries: Principles, Practices and Challenges.


Interactions Between Cetaceans and Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea: Conclusive Report


MedTEK: The Mediterranean Ecological Knowledge on Small-Scale Fisheries: preliminary findings in Cabo de Gata (Spain), Malta and Pantelleria island (Italy) sites


Interactions Between Cetaceans and Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea: Study Area 2 – the case of the Central Mediterranean Malta


Interactions Between Cetaceans and Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea: Study Area 3 – the case of Northern Alboran Sea Andalucia, Spain


Interactions Between Cetaceans and Small-Scale Fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea: Study Area 1 – the case of Central Mediterranean Sicily, Italy


Market opportunities for artisanal and small-scale fisheries products for sustainability of the Mediterranean Sea – Towards an Innovative Labelling Scheme


Social and Economic Aspects of Mediterranean Small-Scale Fisheries: a snapshot of three fishing communities

Mainstreaming small-scale low impact fisheries in the Mediterranean: giving voice to the small-scale fisheries sector with the support of the MAVA Foundation.

The Mediterranean Sea is one of the richest marine environments worldwide but is also in urgent need of effective management solutions to protect its biodiversity and socio-economic heritage. Climate change, pollution, ill-fitted fisheries management models, shipping and tourism are putting pressure on the resources and on the everyday life of thousands of fishers who rely on fish to survive.

International and European high-level institutions, including the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean and the European Commission, are fully aware of the need to implement effective strategies to tackle these challenges. At LIFE, we believe sustainable fishing should be put at the top of the institutional agenda as all efforts will be vain without the active involvement of small-scale fishers, the real stewards of the sea. For this reason, thanks to the financial support of the MAVA Foundation ( LIFE is launching the project “Mainstreaming Small Scale Low Impact Fisheries in the Mediterranean” (2018-2021).

In line with the overall objectives of LIFE, it aims to bring small-scale fishers to the core of decision-making processes that affect their livelihoods. The project will build on the body of work and achievements of LIFE’s Mediterranean programme initiated in 2015, building the capacity of its Members to engage in the decisions that affect their livelihoods, as well as providing a dedicated voice for SSF in the Mediterranean region. With a Mediterranean wide perspective, the project will  focus on 2 main geographical areas: the Alboran Sea and the Strait of Sicily. The project is articulated in a range of actions, including:

  • Improving the understanding of the small-scale fisheries sector
  • Valorising fisher’s local knowledge (on species, habitats, climate change)
  • Promoting governance based on co-management, including of Marine Protected Areas and other areas reserved for small-scale fishing activities
  • Building the capacity of fishers and their organisations to participate in policy and decision-making fora, including in the Mediterranean Advisory Council (MedAC), the European Commission initiated MedFish4Ever project, and the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM).
  • Identifying and promoting best practices and discouraging bad ones through awareness raising activities, including exchanges, workshops, focus discussion groups and communications.
  • Building the capacity of LIFE as a legitimate body representing the interests of small-scale fishers through increased membership.
  • Reinforcing AKTEA – the women in fisheries network – through a number of ad-hoc actions and activities.
2016-02-09 22.02.42

To achieve these ambitious objectives, local fishers’ organizations can count on the dedicated support of LIFE’s Mediterranean Coordinator and on two Project Officers with a good knowledge of Mediterranean fisheries and the decision-making processes that affect them. Their work is key to build synergies across the Region, touching upon a number of countries including Spain, France, Italy, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia and non-EU states such as the Maghreb Countries and Turkey. LIFE staff on the ground and in the Brussels office are always available to support small-scale fishers’ organizations and enable coordination with other fishers organisations in EU and Non-EU Countries, with European institutions and other stakeholders. Thanks to the MAVA project, LIFE will be able to support small-scale fishing communities over the next 3 years and help them to shape and secure  their future as part and parcel of a sustainable future for the Mediterranean Sea. 

Media from the Mediterranean

Fishers Forum



A Renewed Commitment: a decade on the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) renews its commitment to unite European small-scale fishers to achieve fair fisheries, healthy seas and vibrant communities.

Brussels, 5 and 6 November 2021: Representatives of 26 organizations from 15 European countries attended a virtual “Fisher Forum” and General Assembly meeting organized by the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE). The meeting celebrated nine years of LIFE’s existence and renewed its commitment to the cause of low impact small-scale fisheries.

This was the first time that LIFE members had met since October 2016 at the Third European Artisanal Fisheries Congress in Warsaw and marked nearly 10 years since the launch of LIFE at the First Artisanal Fisheries Congress in Brussels in 2012. It provided an opportunity to review the progress made and to discuss the challenges to be faced in the coming period.

LIFE’s General Assembly voted in a new 10-member Board of Directors, based on their representativity in LIFE’s 3 regions of operation – 3 from the Baltic and North Sea, 3 from the Atlantic (North and South), and 4 from the Mediterranean and Black Sea. LIFE Members also reviewed and approved a 5-year strategy (2021-2025) and LIFE’s revised statutes and internal regulations.

In his capacity of Senior Adviser and as one of the founders of LIFE, Jeremy Percy retraced the steps that led to the launch of LIFE, starting in 2009 with the “Green Paper Process” on the reform of the CFP. He highlighted how small-scale fishers had been able to come together at that time thanks to the alignment of socio-economic and environmental interests intent on meaningful CFP reform. Going forward it is vital for LIFE to build synergies and strategic alliances with like-minded interests to achieve common goals.

Brian O’Riordan, Executive Secretary, then gave an overview of LIFE’s progress since 2012 and the key milestones achieved. The key challenges of securing access to resources and fishing grounds on the one hand, and access to markets on the other remain the main focus of LIFE’s work.

Breaking through these barriers to achieve a level playing field and fair fisheries requires both advocacy work at EU and national level, as well as direct capacity building work with the fishers themselves. These latter aspects were highlighted by Marta Cavallé, LIFE’s Mediterranean Coordinator, in 2 keynote presentations on Co-Management and on a relatively new project of LIFE called “Foodnected”.

Cavallé highlighted that co-management provides a central plank underpinning LIFE ’s Mission to restore the health of European seas through improved governance, to bring fishers from the periphery to the centre of decision taking, and to strengthen the three pillars of sustainability. The Foodnected project is designed to pioneer alternative, more sustainable, localised and fair food systems, based on the shared values of small fish producers and consumers, providing a fair price to the fishers and a high-quality fresh and sustainable product to the consumers.

O’Riordan then presented a list of key issues for LIFE to consider for the 2022 review of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). He noted how systemic failure of CFP implementation is disproportionately affecting small-scale low impact coastal fishers, undermining the sustainability of fishing communities and the natural resources on which they depend. Several participants raised concerns about the need to protect their fishing areas from the incursions of larger more powerful fishing activities; that an inshore fishing area needs to be reserved for small-scale low impact fishing under a co-management regime, with a differentiated approach to the management of larger scale off-shore fisheries and smaller scale inshore fisheries.

It was then the chance for LIFE’s Members to have their say. “LIFE Members are LIFE’s life-blood, giving life to LIFE and without whom LIFE’s actions would have no meaning” observed O’Riordan, “they provide strength in numbers, strength in diversity and strength in depth”. The short video presentations submitted by LIFE Members highlighted how much small-scale low impact fishers have in common, despite cultural, geographical, sea-basin and eco-region differences.

At heart, low impact fishing is all about using the right gear, in the right place at the right time to secure viable and sustainable fisheries, underpinned by LIFE’s Mission to unite European small-scale fishers to achieve fair fisheries, healthy seas and vibrant communities.

Given adequate support, and a level playing field, small-scale low impact fishing could provide an important part of the solution to the problems besetting Europe’s troubled seas.



Presentations from our members:

Other key documents and presentations:

LIFE Statement on the Implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy

Presentation on co-management (Marta Cavallé)

Presentation of Foodnected (Marta Cavallé)

LIFE from 2012 to 2021 (Brian O Riordan)

LIFE History (Jerry Percy)

The Schleswig-Holstein Fishermen’s Protection Association EN

The Schleswig-Holstein Fishermen’s Protection Association DE