EU Fisheries Agreements
Small-scale fishing communities worldwide are suffering from the impacts of increased global trade in fish products, dwindling fish stocks, climate change, and environmental degradation.
Meanwhile, the EU is promoting broad fisheries agreements and policies that aim to address a crucial supply problem for Europe’s large-scale industrial fishing fleet, by increasing its access to fish stocks in other parts of the world. This is reflective of EU fisheries policies in general, which for the last several decades, have favoured the growth of the industrial sector at the expense of small-scale fishers, who lose access to fishing areas and markets. The EU context reflects a larger global trend of private sector dominance over fisheries and fish trade. Policies like fisheries agreements export this approach to countries in the Global South, creating a global governance challenge.
As the fifth largest global fishing ‘nation’, the EU is a crucial player in the global fisheries economy. In 2013, EU countries caught more than 4.9 billion kilograms of fish – 83% of which came from the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean, and 17% from the rest of the world’s oceans. This gives the EU considerable leveraging power when establishing fisheries agreements with other countries. The EU regulates a number of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) with countries in East and West Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, which provide payments to these countries in exchange for access to marine resources. This brief focuses mainly on these agreements.