STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS AT REGIONAL AND COMMUNITY LEVEL
Socio-economic Review of Community Fisheries
MegaPesca Lda, Portugal
The fishing industry has proved responsive to capacity reduction incentives of CFP, broadly resulting in the achievement of targets set under MAGPs I to IV. There has been substantial fleet investment to improve handling, quality and safety at sea, and many fleet segments are highly competitive.
European countries such as Denmark, UK and Netherlands are regarded as having
good port and market infrastructure, and well-trained fishers. Production of
bivalve mollusca (which is an important source of employment in regions such as
Spain, Portugal France and Italy)
is stable and appears not to be threatened by over exploitation.
There is a
concentration of processing activity in key regions e.g. in Humberside in UK,
Galicia in Spain, Bremerhaven in Germany, and Boulogne in France, resulting in
economies of scale and benefits of industrial clustering. The processing sector
is highly competitive and well capitalised, with substantial cross border
investment. There is widespread compliance with hygiene requirements and product
quality and safety are considered to be high. There are good contacts and skills
in international sourcing for supplies of raw material to the EU processing
member states have generally good conditions for aquaculture development, with
adequate marine and freshwater resources, and a number of species of fish and
mollusca suitable for cultivation. Marine aquaculture is well established in
Scotland, Greece, Ireland and Spain and highly efficient production systems have
been developed. There is spare capacity for increasing production should market
demand permit. Inland aquaculture is well established throughout many regions
market is a high-income stable market, showing good growth in demand. In many
regions there is a positive income elasticity of demand for fish, so consumption
is stimulated as income grows. Tourism development in the Mediterranean region
provides good market potential for regions such as Greece and Spain, although
seasonal. In Northern European countries such as Belgium, UK and Netherlands the
transparency of auction markets results in market efficiency and good price
information communicated to producers.
Marketing of fish is problematic, with the products drawn from three phyla of the animal kingdom, and with production subject to biological variables. Generally, primary production of commercial species cannot be increased except through aquaculture. There is a great diversity of fisheries activity in the EU, ranging from Baltic, North Sea, Atlantic and Mediterranean basins. The Baltic region is characterised by highly fluctuating catches and short fishing seasons. The Mediterranean is characterised by a wide diversity of commercial species. Both mitigate against efficiency in production and marketing.
regions there is a chronic over-capacity in the fishing fleet and many
economically important stocks are considered to be under pressure from
non-sustainable levels of effort. The situation is considered to be critical in
the case of demersal fisheries in the North Sea, especially in some stocks
pursued by the beam trawl segment of the Netherlands and Belgian fleets. There
is a progressive reduction of Total Allowable Catches and application of CFP
management to non-quota stocks. Fishing in the North Sea and the Baltic is
especially dependent on species subject to quota. Some segments of the EU fleet
(especially in Spain, but also in Portugal and Netherlands) are dependent on
access to third country fisheries. Reduction of yields and opportunities to fish
has had an impact on profitability, and landings are declining in some regions
and static in most. Low levels of fleet investment result in a downward spiral
of aging fleet, reduced efficiency and higher costs. Other effects of low
profitability are also manifested as shortages of skilled crew and a low level
of new entrants to the industry (felt particularly in Belgium, Ireland, the
Portuguese Islands and France).
resources are particularly threatened by a proliferation of the small scale
fleet, affecting particularly the Mediterranean where, in addition, there is a
wide variety of gear types, only four out of 20 bordering maritime nations are
EU members, and coastal resources are subjected to environmental pressures such
There is a
low value added to EU landed fish, with most fish entering consumption directly
or undergoing only primary processing, thus reducing the income for fishing
communities. The lack of continuity of supply of whitefish to primary processing
results in an under utilisation of capacity (especially in the UK). The
processing sector has relatively high labour costs compared to third country
suppliers, especially of canned tuna, sardine and anchovy conserves. There are
finite limits to compensatory improvements in productivity and quality that can
be obtained. Some segments of the Southern European processing sector (e.g.
canning of anchovy and sardine in France, Spain and Italy) lack investment, and
have difficulty upgrading to EU hygiene standards. They are approaching
salmon, marine aquaculture has not realised its full potential, largely
constrained by limited market acceptance of a narrow range of species which are
amenable to culture technology. Expansion of aquaculture production is also
limited by regulatory burdens, environmental concerns and conflicts with tourism
and other coastal uses. In the two main producing regions (Scotland and Greece)
aquaculture companies are largely dependent on a single species.
productive regions (such as Scotland, the Portuguese Islands, Brittany and
France Exterior) are distant from main markets, resulting in increased
difficulties and costs in reaching markets, and depressed prices to fishers.
Some regions e.g. France, Greece and Spain have very long coastlines with
dispersed production and landings, increasing costs and difficulty of
distribution. Marketing infrastructure in such regions tends to be weak.
Although Producer Organisations have had a significant impact in some regions,
in others such as Greece they are poorly organised and have little impact. Even
where POs do exist, there may be a lack of co-ordinated marketing arrangements,
such as in Germany where there are only weak links to processing. Lack of
marketing linkages in the chain results in poor co-ordination between demand and
landings, and a lack of linkage between quality and price. In some regions e.g.
around the North Sea orderly marketing is undermined by so-called "black
markets for small pelagic fish are not well developed and producers (such as
Ireland, Netherlands, Denmark) rely heavily on unstable markets in Russia and
Africa. The low demand for small pelagic fish means that much potentially good
quality fish is used for reduction, for example sprat in Sweden and sardine in
the Canary Islands. The North European food markets are dominated by
oligopolistic supermarket chains, with strong buying power and leverage over the
supply chain. Quayside marketing in the UK continues to be limited by reluctance
to use metric measures.
Given the political will, there are substantial opportunities for improved resource management, to ensure a more sustainable fishery sector with higher economic yields. This can be delivered by a reduction of the fishing effort applied to the main commercial species. The opportunity will be strengthened by improved management structures, both within the EU's Common Fisheries Policy, and by strengthened regional bodies in which the EU participates such as the GFCM (General Fisheries Council of the Mediterranean) and the IBSFC (International Baltic Sea Fisheries Commission). Enlargement of the EU will provide an opportunity to strengthen Baltic Sea and Mediterranean management. New management measures (such as marine protected areas applied in Italy) provide opportunities to improve stock conservation in some areas.
introduction of new ways of managing quota (for example by the use of individual
transferable quotas in Belgium) may improve profitability and permit fleet
renewal in some segments. There are some, albeit limited, opportunities for the
exploitation of presently unexploited fish resources. In particular Ireland and
Portugal (Azores) have access to deepwater fish species with potential for
market development. Current research into the marine farming of demersal fish
for which there is a high demand (such as cod and grouper) could provide new
growth opportunities for marine aquaculture. The use of artificial reefs, open
sea ranching, and offshore farming may also provide opportunities for increased
production without the negative environmental consequences and coastal use
conflicts of conventional aquaculture systems.
marketing and distribution opportunities are available through modern processing
technology and through multiple retail outlets. There are new possibilities for
market segmentation and eco-labelling e.g. the Marine Stewardship Council
initiative, organic fish and niche markets. There is considerable potential for
development of markets for under utilised fish resources such as small pelagic
fish, blue whiting and ling, particularly if the new distribution opportunities
presented by supermarkets can be utilised.
availability of EU structural funds provides a means to stimulate better
productivity and marketing, thus breaking the downward investment spiral.
Promotion and consumer information to link quality to price may provide a boost
to demand. The unification of auction systems across national boundaries (e.g.
through the Marsource project) could provide better price information to
fishers, thus encouraging better co-ordination throughout the marketing chain.
Fishers, particularly of demersal stocks, in all regions are under threat in the short-term from the decline in the condition of many stocks. Opportunities to fish are being reduced by the progressive fall in Total Allowable Catches, the application of quota (or pre-cautionary quota) to current non-quota species and the loss of access to some key third country fishing grounds (such as Morocco). Furthermore in the longer term, there is the risk that chronic over-fishing may result in permanent damage to stocks.
capacity and effort reduction measures under the Multi-annual Guidance Programme
may also limit the opportunities to fish. On a Community level and in most
cases, the MAPG IV targets have been met, with tonnage 16% below target and
power 7% below target. In the short term, capacity reduction measures will
impact most on France and Netherlands, which have not met their objectives under
MAGP IV, and where further capacity reductions may be anticipated during the
remaining period of MAGP IV (until 2002).
opportunities to fish threaten reduced revenues, and increasing costs from an
ageing fleet threaten profitability. Lack of investment could result in
obsolescence, increased safety risks and poorer quality. The low interest
expressed by young people in many regions in entering the sector could result in
a critical lack of skilled fishers, accelerating withdrawal of vessels from the
fleet and causing hardship in fisheries dependent areas.
reduction initiatives via the WTO will, if successful, eliminate tariff barriers
on fishery products supplied from third countries, threatening the viability of
processors, especially in the canning sector where the labour cost forms a high
proportion of the total. There are finite limits to improvements in productivity
and quality, which can be obtained, thus threatening the retention of the EU
base of operations. Many less viable sectors of the EU processing industry e.g.
anchovy and sardine canning in S.European countries are in any case threatened
by the cost of upgrading to comply with EU hygiene standards.