The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) deals with the management of European fishing fleets, the conservation of fish stocks, and implements aquaculture control measures. Member states of the EU have equal access to all European waters to generate fair competition under this policy, first introduced in the 1970s. Updated in 2014, the CFP introduced several new limitations, such as the discard ban, and is comprised of four separate but interlinking components. These four components are:

Fisheries Management

A  fisheries management plan is in place and is applicable to EU member states as a means of ensuring high long-term fishing yields for all stocks . This management system considers longterm conservation of finite resources, while also being concerned with the sustainability and profitability of the industry for the various stakeholders. Another aspect of the CFP is that of the discard ban. This restriction on commercial fishing was added to the new CFP in 2014, and forces fishermen to land every individual fish caught as part of their total allowable catch. It is also referred to as  a ‘landing obligation’.


Fisheries management is based on availability of accurate, reliable raw data, and scientific advice from scientific advisory boards such as:

International Policy

This component of the CFP refers to the trade rules established between non-EU and Member States. The EU is the largest single market and a net importer of fish products and therefore plays a key role in promoting better governance. This is achieved through the creation and implementation of policies and legislation for the management of marine resources, in consultation with international partners such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (WWW1).

Market and trade Policy

This component refers to ‘The Common Organisation of the Markets’ which insures marketing standards to products sold in the EU market regardless of origin. In this way producers are responsible for sustainable exploitation of finite resources and the marketing of their product. By implementing common marketing standards to producers within member states,  consumers receive more transparent information about the products they are purchasing. The information provided to the consumer is regulated by Consumer Information Rules with new rules implemented on 13 December 2014.

Under the new rules, fish, molluscs, crustaceans and algae, products sold to consumers or mass caterers must bear the following information (WWW2):

  • the commercial and scientific name of the species
  • whether the product was caught at sea or in freshwater, or farmed
  • the catch or production area and the type of fishing gear used to catch the product
  • whether the product has been defrosted and  the date of minimum durability (also known as the ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date), in line with general food labeling rules
  • detailed information regarding origin of catch/product

To learn more about the information provided to consumers, see this CFP information sheet: Tools for the World’s Largest Seafood Market

Funding of the Policy

This component sets minimum prices for seafood products and finances the buying up of unused fish.

  • European Fisheries Fund (2007 – 2013)

The European fisheries Fund, provided funding to fishing industry and coastal communities to ‘help them adapt to changing conditions in the sector and become economically resilient and ecologically sustainable’ (WWW3). To facilitate this, 4.3 billion euro was made available to all sectors within the fishing industry (inland and sea fishing, aquaculture etc).

  • European and Maritime Fisheries Fund (2014 – 2020)

This is one of five European Structural and Investment funds which seeks to promote jobs based recovery in Europe by:

  • helping fishermen in the transition to sustainable fishing
  • supporting coastal communities in diversifying their economies
  • financing projects that create new jobs and improve quality of life along European coasts
  • making it easier for applicants to access financing.

Financial allocation per member state (WWW4)

The EMFF in particular also provides investment support to small scale coastal fishermen by facilitating investment in training, conservation and stock rebuilding, and by investing in equipment such as first own fishing boats, engines and on board equipment.

Other aspects of the CFP include, but are not limited to: implementation of quotas and Total Allowable Catches, fishing controls such as closures and minimum landing sizes, funding for the upgrading of vessels, gear, and processing methods. The CFP also provides control and management frameworks to recreational fishers, and to the sustainability and low environmental impact of commercial fisheries and aquaculture facilities. These are just a few examples of what the CFP entails, the entirety of which is laid out in EU Regulation No. 1380/2013 (2013).

Seán  and  Orla-Peach


WWW1 – Fishing Outside the EU

WWW2 – Consumer Information CFP

WWW3 & 4 – Financial Allocation per Member State