LIFE – but not as we know it – Low impact fisheries 

Jerry Percy
Executive Director
Low Impact Fishers of Europe

T: 01437 751242
M: 07799 698 568

80% of the fishing fleet across Europe are deemed to be “small scale”.

Whilst there is an official EU definition for small scale of; “under 12 metres in length, not using towed gears” the actual small scale fleet differs in size and activity across individual Member states. In the UK we have an arbitrary dividing line of 10 metres length whilst across the EU, definitions vary and can include boats up to 17 metres for instance in Atlantic Spain.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund requires that in Member States where over 1 000 vessels can be considered small-scale coastal fishing vessels, they produce an action plan for the development, competitiveness and sustainability of small-scale coastal fishing;

The reformed Common Fisheries Policy states that Member States should endeavour to give preferential access to for small scale, artisanal or coastal fishermen and a fair standard of living for the fisheries sector including small scale fisheries.

Article 17 of the CFP requires Member States to include environmental, social and economic criteria when allocating the resource [quota] that should benefit the more sustainable element of the fleet and those who provide the greatest socio economic benefits.

And closer to home, DEFRA’s 2027 Vision Document states that; “Access to fisheries continues to be available to small-scale fishing vessels, even if in some cases that is not the most economically efficient way of harvesting the resource. This is because the wider economic, social and environmental benefits of small-scale fishing can outweigh the comparative inefficiency in harvesting the resource and make a significant economic and social contribution to the lives of individuals and coastal communities ………………….”

Within these references there are six individual definitions of what can loosely be understood to be “small scale”. The common denominator that links them is that the fleet sector they describe has lacked any genuine and dedicated representation for the most part in member states and certainly on a pan European basis.

LIFE, the Low Impact Fishers of Europe organization has been created to provide a coherent voice in this respect. This presentation will describe the aims and objectives of LIFE and how it will endeavor to ensure that the Commission, European Parliament and Member States collectively do what it says on the tin in terms of the statements above in order to provide a secure, sustainable and profitable future for the vessels concerned.