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IMAGE — Result In Brief

Project ID: 44227
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Netherlands

Sustainable future for the European fishing industry

Fishermen have learned the hard way that irresponsible fishing can not only damage the environment, it can also negatively impact their livelihood. A recent investigation of indicators aims to avoid a future in which even more fish stocks are depleted beyond recovery.
Sustainable future for the European fishing industry
Europe is taking important steps to strengthen its policies with respect to environmental protection. In the case of fishing, this is embodied in the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM), which is being incorporated in the latest update of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

The ‘Indicators for fisheries management in Europe’ (IMAGE) project looked to develop a range of indicators to assist implementation of EAFM at the European level. Financial support was provided in part by the EU.

Since stakeholder involvement is critical for the success of any initiative, an important element of the IMAGE approach was to liaise with the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). RACs have been established for different fishing regions and fleet types and represent an important link between government and industry.

IMAGE participants found the task of narrowing down the most appropriate indicators a challenging one. What did become clear was the need to remain focused on high-level CFP objectives. More complex relationships are known to exist between fishing parameters, but the science is not there just yet to deliver an accurate model.

Another important finding is that a single pan-European selection of indicators may not be the ideal solution. Feedback from case studies has indicated that inhomogeneities between regions, modes of fishing, societal factors and so on necessitate a flexible rather than standardised methodology. Such a compromise should not be viewed as a failure since the goal in the end is to protect both fish and livelihoods.

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