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EU Member States comply with obligations to downsize their fishing fleet

The EC's annual report on the European fishing fleet shows some progress towards achieving a balance between capacity and available fishing opportunities.  However more remains to be done to ensure that stocks are managed in accordance with the objective of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). 

The main messages of the report are:

  1. Current entries in the EU Fleet Register indicate that all Member States have complied with the levels of fishing capacity in tonnage and power. Overall the fishing capacity of the EU fleet was 16.4% below the capacity ceilings for tonnage and 10.4 % below the power ceilings.

  2. On 31 December 2012 the EU fleet consisted of 76 023 vessels. The number of vessels has been reduced by 1.6 % while the tonnage and engine power decreased by 2% and 1% respectively in comparison with 2011.

  3. In 2012 decommissioning with public aid was the most used management tool to reduce fishing capacity. From 1st January 2007 until 31 of July of 2012, €464 million of European Fisheries Fund payments were allocated, equating to almost 3700 vessels ceasing fishing.

Excessive fishing power is a major driver for overfishing. The recent reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) obliges Member States to adjust the fishing capacity of their fleets to their fishing opportunities over time.

From now on, Member States will have to include in their reports an action plan for the fleet segments with identified structural imbalance. The action plans will result in more transparency and monitoring on the Member States' targets, actions, and timelines to remedy these imbalances. Under the new CFP a proven lack of commitment from Member States to achieving a balance between fleet capacity and fishing opportunities may lead to the suspension or interruption of funding under the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.


The annual fleet report is based on Member States’ reports on their efforts to achieve a sustainable balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities. Member States are responsible for achieving a stable and enduring balance between the fishing capacity of their fleet and their fishing opportunities, and to take appropriate measures to ensure this balance. This has been a requirement under the Common Fisheries Policy since 2002 and is continued in the new CFP as adopted in December 2013. Such balance contributes to the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), in particular to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) in order to ensure that fishing activities are environmentally sustainable in the long term and consistent with achieving economic, social and employment benefits.

Member States are expected to apply the Commission guidelines when preparing their reports. Data collected under the Data Collection Framework (DCF) are also used. The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) has assessed the Member States' reports.

The indicators used for this report are related to the sustainable and viable operation of fishing fleets, such as whether fleets:

  1. rely on stocks fished above MSY levels,

  2. affect stocks at high biological risk,

  3. are breaking even,

  4. are economically sustainable,

  5. are underutilised,

  6. are inactive.

For further information

Annual Fleet Report : tm

Speech by Commissioner Damanaki (SPEECH/14/223): Fishing Overcapacity: time to move forward at global level, 13 March 2014

Contacts :

Helene Banner (+32 2 295 24 07)

Lone Mikkelsen (+32 2 296 05 67)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail

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