As pointed out by the report of the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition in 2014, the sustainability of fisheries in their natural and environmental resource dimensions is recognised to be a sine qua non condition for long-term and sustainable food security and nutrition.
The EU supports in developing countries the sustainable development of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, to enhance food security, improve nutrition and, alleviate poverty. There are two main channels for cooperation with third-countries.
The EU has produced a Green Deal Guidance Note on Oceans to inform the technical cooperation in coastal and island countries endowed with marine and coastal resources. In line with the EU policy on International Ocean Governance, it aims to provide support in the design and development of actions that go beyond the sectoral cooperation and adopt a holistic approach to protect, restore and increase the productive uses of oceans and coastal resources in a sustainable way.
First, the EU concludes Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) with southern partner countries. These agreements provide fishing rights to EU vessels for surplus stocks and, in exchange, the EU pays a financial contribution and provides sectorial support with a focus on sustainable fisheries management. There are currently 12 SFPAs in force.
Secondly, the EU funds development cooperation projects with developing countries in the fisheries sector. Projects are focused on three main fields of intervention: aquaculture, marine capture fisheries and inland capture fisheries. A large proportion of the EU fisheries programmes are regional programmes, as many issues linked to fisheries are indeed transboundary, requiring regional responses.
The report “European development cooperation in the field of fisheries and aquaculture - State of play 2018” provides details about cooperation actions around the world.
Below are some of the ongoing regional and continental projects:
The PEUMP programme - Pacific-European Union Marine Partnership (2018-2023 – 45 MEUR) - promotes sustainable management and sound ocean governance through a holistic and multi-sectoral approach contributing to social, economic and environmental development in the Pacific, as well as biodiversity protection and promoting the sustainable use of fisheries and other marine resources.
ECOFISH programme - Contribution of Sustainable Fisheries to the Blue Economy of the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region (28 MEUR) - supports the monitoring, control and surveillance action plans, notably to deter illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and implementation of conservation measures based on scientific evidence. The programme also provide support to small-scale fisheries communities.
The PESCAO programme - Improved Regional Fisheries Governance in Western Africa (2018-2023 - 15 MEUR) - aims at improving regional fisheries governance in Western Africa through better coordination of national fisheries policies. It supports the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in developing a framework for regional fisheries priorities and facilitating cooperation with sub-regional organisations and development partners. It also builds the capacities of competent national and regional monitoring, control and surveillance authorities to deter IUU fishing.
On top of these regional programmes, the EU funds continental and cross-continental programmes.
FISH-GOV programme - Strengthening Institutional Capacity to Enhance Governance of the Fisheries Sector in Africa (2018-2022 – 11 MEUR). FISH-GOV is contributing to raising awareness on fisheries and aquaculture issues in Africa, improving cooperation between regional fisheries bodies and regional economic communities and, fostering synergies between development programmes and initiatives.
FISH4ACP – (2019-2024 – 40 MEUR). FISH4ACP will work with 10 value chains in 10 different ACP countries, aiming to maximise their economic returns and social benefits, while minimising the detrimental effects on natural habitats and marine wildlife. It will pay special attention to small-scale fisheries, because of their potential to deliver economic and social benefits, particularly for women.
The EU is funding projects at the national level as well. Some countries, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Somalia and Liberia have chosen fisheries or aquaculture as focal sectors for bilateral cooperation with the EU, demonstrating an increasing interest in these issues. In these countries the EU development policy supports national fisheries and aquaculture policies and fish value chains, based on solid value chain analysis.