Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

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The EU protects our seas and oceans while ensuring their economic and environmental sustainability as drivers of jobs, growth and innovation.

Seas and oceans are engines of the European economy. The „blue” economy records billions of euros in gross value added (i.e. contribution to the economy) year after year. The Blue Growth Strategy enables the realization of the potential for sustainable growth in the marine and maritime sector as a whole.

The EU Common Fisheries Policy aims to ensure that fisheries and aquaculture (fish farming under controlled conditions) are environmentally sustainable and economically and socially viable in the long term, while providing healthy food for current and future generations of European citizens. The industry should be dynamic yet sustainable, conserving resources and protecting the marine environment while providing a decent standard of living for those who depend on fishing for their livelihood.

What the EU does

Seas and oceans not only provide us with food, provide employment and serve maritime transport and recreation – thanks to technological advances, we can now also extract medicines, minerals and renewable energy from the sea. The EU is embracing these new opportunities and also playing an important role in promoting responsible and sustainable use of the seas, both in Europe and globally.

The EU has designated marine protected areas to protect marine ecosystems and biodiversity and the services these ecosystems provide. In these areas, human activities are limited to conservation.

The Common Fisheries Policy and Integrated Maritime Policy are financed through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, which provides more than €6.4 billion for the 2014-2020 period to help those working in the industry transition to sustainable fisheries, create jobs for the sector, and help coastal communities develop new economic activities. The Fund provides co-financing to help Member States implement operational programs and projects to achieve the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy.

In addition, the Common Fisheries Policy brings together the rules for the management of the European fishing fleet and for the management of fish stocks. Fish stocks can renew themselves, but only to a limited extent. To prevent overfishing, member states are set quotas that determine the maximum catch for each species of fish. To eliminate the wasteful practice of discarding unwanted catches, a landing obligation is being phased in.