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Fishing fleet capacity (CSI 034) - Assessment published Feb 2009

Indicator Assessment Created 05 Mar 2008 Published 18 Feb 2009 Last modified 07 Jul 2011, 02:45 PM
 
Contents
 

Indicator definition

The indicator is a measure of the size and capacity of the fishing fleet, including the average size of vessels, which in turn are assumed to approximate to the pressure on marine fish resources and the environment.

Units

The size of the European fishing fleet is presented as numbers of vessels, the capacity as the total engine power, given in kW and the gross tonnage (GT) given in tonnes. Average size is a derived measured given in GT/vessel.


Key policy question: Is the size and capacity of the European fishing fleet being reduced?

Key messages

The EFTA fleet increased slightly in terms of power (~ 3%) and decreased slightly in tonnage (~ 2%) but the number of vessels decreased by 40%. The slight decrease in tonnage in the EFTA countries for this period is preceded by an increase so given the whole period 1989-2006 there has been a 25 % increase in tonnage in the EFTA countries. The most recent new member countries Bulgaria and Romania showed a decrease in tonnage (69%) and number of vessels (56 %) in the period 1989-1995.


The size of the EU fishing fleet is following a downward trend, with reductions in power (17%), tonnage (12%) and numbers (20%) in the period 1998-2006. In EU-15 and EFTA countries the average size of vessels has increased by 11% and 65% respectively, in EU-7 countries and Romania and Bulgaria the average size has decreased by 76% and 29%. Similarly, the combined fleet of the EU-7countries decreased its tonnage by 68 % over 1995-2006 but at the same time their number of vessels increased substantially (by 34%). 

Changes in European fishing fleet capacity.

Note: Countries have been grouped into the following categories: EU-15: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom

Data source:

DG Fisheries, EUROSTAT, FAO

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European Fishing Fleet Capacity: Engine Power 1989-2006

Note: The data available cover the years 1989-2006 for EU-15; 1998-2006 for EFTA countries; and 2004-2006 for NMS countries

Data source:

DG Fisheries, Eurostat

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Country ratio in European Fishing Fleet Capacity: Engine Power, 2006

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Fisheries, Eurostat

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European Fishing Fleet Capacity: Tonnage 1989-2006

Note: Countries have been grouped into the following categories: EU-15: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom, EFTA: Iceland and Norway EU-7: Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, and Slovenia Bulgaria and Romania

Data source:

DG Fisheries, Eurostat, FAO

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Country ratio in European Fishing Fleet Capacity: Tonnage, 2006

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Fisheries, EUROSTAT, FAO

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European Fishing Fleet Capacity: Number of vessels 1989-2006

Note: Countries have been grouped into the following categories according to data availability: EU-15: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom EFTA: Iceland and Norway EU-7: Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland, and Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania

Data source:

EUROSTAT, FAO, DG Fisheries

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Country ratio in European Fishing Fleet Capacity: Number of vessels, 2006

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Fisheries, EUROSTAT, FAO

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Key assessment

The size of the EU fishing fleet is following a downward trend, with reductions in power (17%), tonnage (12%) and numbers (20%) in the period 1998-2006. In EU-15 and EFTA countries the average size of vessels in increasing (by 11% and 65%), in EU-7 countries and Romania and Bulgaria the average size is decreasing (by 76% and 29%). Similarly, the combined fleet of the EU-7countries decreased its tonnage by 68 % over 1995-2006  but at the same time their number of vessels increased substantially (by 34%). The EFTA fleet increased slightly in terms of power (~ 3%) and decreased slightly in tonnage (~ 2%) but the number of vessels decreased by 40%. The slight decrease in tonnage in the EFTA countries for this period is preceded by an increase so given the whole period 1989-2006 there has been a 25 % increase in tonnage in the EFTA countries. The most recent new member countries Bulgaria and Romania showed a decrease in tonnage (69%) and number of vessels (56 %) in the period 1989-1995.

Average Capacity

Changes in the size distribution of the vessels have occurred in the period investigated since the average size of the vessels in EU15 and EFTA has increased by 11 and 64%, respectively whereas the average size of the vessels in EU-7 has decreased by 76 % (Figure 1).


Power

Over the past 15 years the power of  the EU-15 fleet capacity has gradually decreased, whereas  the power of the EFTA fleet has increased slightly, and  in 2006, the total power of the fishing fleet amounted to 6.6 GW in the EU-15, 1.8 GW in EFTA countries, and 0.4 GW in EU-7 countries (Figure 2). Norway, Italy, Spain, France and the UK retain the largest proportion of the power in their fleets, which when combined accounted for more than 60% of the total fleet in 2006 (Figure 3). Data for Bulgaria and Romania are not available.

Tonnage

In the period 1989-2006, the EU-15 fleet was gradually reduced in tonnage by approximately 18%; at the same time the EFTA fleet experienced a 25 % increase (Figure 4). The fleets of EU-7 faced a dramatic decrease of 68% and those of Bulgaria and Romania one of 70%, due to the restructuring of the economies of the former Eastern Block countries.  No data are available on fleet tonnage in these countries prior to 1995. Currently, the fleets of  Spain, Norway, the UK, France, Italy, Iceland and the Netherlands retain the largest proportion of tonnage, accounting for more than 70% of the total fleet in 2006 when combined (Figure 5). The fishing fleet tonnage (GRT) in 2006 consisted of 1.8 mill.  tonnes in the EU-15,  0.55 mill.  tonnes in the EFTA countries, and 0.17 mill. tonnes in the EU-7 countries. The most recent data on the countries Bulgaria and Romania showed 0.11 mill. tonnes in 1995.

Fleet Size

Both EU-15 and EFTA fleets have been gradually reduced in size over the past 15 years, whereas the fleet of EU-7 has increased gradually over the past 10 years (Figure 6). It is noteworthy that the peak value observed in 1995 was due to the introduction of new countries, namely Finland and Sweden, into the registry. In 2006 there were 81 515 fishing vessels in the EU-15, 9058 in the EFTA countries, and 5508 in the EU-7 countries (Figure 6). Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and Norway retain the largest number of vessels, accounting for more than 70% of the total fleet in 2006. (Figure 7).

Other Comments

The size and power of the fishing fleets are considered as the main measure of the capacity of the fish fleets and thus a reflection of the pressure on the various fish stocks. Excess size and power of the fishing fleets is considered to be one of the major factors that lead to over-fishing. Power, tonnage and number of vessels are, however, not a direct measure of the effort of the fleet. It is for instance the level of activity of the fleet is not factored in to these numbers and this is likely to be rather variable. Furthermore the size distribution of the vessels is an important factor that has to be taken into account in relation to the size of the pressure from the fishing fleets. Larger vessels are likely to exert a larger fishing pressure than the equivalent number of smaller vessels because larger vessels are usually used with active fishing gears like trawls and seine nets whereas smaller vessels most often are use for passive gears like gill nets and long lines. In general, the catch per unit fleet tonnage of the active fishing gear is larger than that of the passive gear.  For example, the fleets of Greece and Portugal, that consist mainly of small vessels is likely to have a lower fishing pressure than an equivalent tonnage in the Norwegian fleet. To improve this indicators ability to address fishing effort, both the type of fishing gear and associated efficiency and information of days at sea should be incorporated into the indicator, but this information is currently unavailable at the Pan-European scale.


Despite the overall drop in size and capacity (power and tonnage) experienced by the EU fleet in the past 15 years, no visible improvement in the condition of the fish stocks has been observed. According to DG Fisheries:

'One of the most fundamental and enduring problems of the Common Fisheries Policy has been the chronic overcapacity of the EU fleet. Conservation measures have persistently been undermined by fishing activities at levels well beyond the level of pressure that the available fish stocks could safely withstand. As new technology makes fishing vessels ever more efficient, the capacity of the fleet should be reduced to maintain a balance between fishing capacity and the quantities of fish that can safely be taken out of the sea by fishing'.

The Multi-Annual Guidance Plans (MAGPs) have proved inadequate and have been replaced by a simpler scheme in the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (January 2003).

Data sources

Policy context and targets

Context description

EU fishing policies aim to achieve sustainable fishing on the long term within a sound ecosystem through appropriate management of fisheries, while offering stable economic and social conditions for all those involved in the fishing activity. Sustainable exploitation of the fish stocks is ensured through the EU Common Fishery Policy, formally created in 1983 ( Council Regulation (EEC) No. 170/83), which aimed to address the biological, economic and social dimension of fishing. Since then, adjustments to the fishing fleet  have been made, in order to achieve a sustainable balance between its capacity and size, and available resources.

This was first attempted by the successive implementation of four Multi-Annual Guidance Plans (MAGPs), which set for each coastal Member State maximum levels of fishing capacity by types of vessel. Commission Regulation (EC) No 2091/98 of 30 September 1998 dealt with the segmentation of the Community fishing fleet and fishing effort in relation to the multi-annual guidance programmes, and Council regulation (EC) 2792/1999 laid down the detailed rules and arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector, mainly through the Structural Funds and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries like the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG).

However, MAGPs failed to meet expectations and proved cumbersome to manage. Subsidies for construction/modernisation and running costs undermined the efforts made, also with public aid, to eliminate overcapacity, by helping the introduction of new vessels into the fleet. MAGP IV, which ended in December 2002, was therefore replaced by a simpler scheme, under the 2002 CFP reform (Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002). Under this new scheme, the fleet capacity were to be reduced gradually, i.e. the introduction of new capacity into the fleet without public aid must be compensated by the withdrawal of at least an equivalent capacity, also without public aid.

Regulation 2371/2002 sets out the economic, environmental and social basis of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the objective of which is to guarantee sustainable exploitation of living aquatic resources. The measures adopted under this Regulation are based on applying the precautionary principle and sound scientific advice. They concern the conservation and protection of fish stocks and marine ecosystems, access to waters and resources, the fleet, control of activities, decision-making and the involvement of stakeholders at all stages of the policy.

 

Targets

No specific target exists. However, the aim under the reformed CFP is to reduce the size and capacity of the fishing fleet to achieve sustainable fishing.

Related policy documents

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

Data for all the countries come from Eurostat and Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE). Eurostat compiles its fleet statistics from a Statistical Register of Fishing Vessels that is updated annually from an administrative file maintained by  DG MARE, in application of Commission Regulation (EC) No 26/2004. The data in the Statistical Register relate to the situation on 31 December of the reference year. The Statistical Register records the length, tonnage, power and year of construction of all registered fishing vessels.

Moreover, under a gentlemen’s agreement, once annually the national authorities of Norway and Iceland send Eurostat corresponding records for their fishing vessels to be included in the Statistical Register. Data on fleet statistics for new EU members (Bulgaria and Romania) are missing as they commenced their fishing fleet data submissions to the DG MARE’s as from 1 January 2007.

Regarding tonnage, under the EU legislation the Member States are required to record the vessel tonnage using the Gross Tonnage (GT) under the London Convention (1986) as opposed to the previously used Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) under the Oslo Convention (1946) (Council Regulation (EEC) No. 2930/86).

Percentage changes in capacity (power, tonnage, and numbers) have been calculated using the last and first years for which data exist. The average size of a vessel is a derived measurement based on the tonnage and number of vessels.

The changes in these parameters were evaluated over the period 1998-2008 for EU15 and EFTA countries, 2004 -2008 for EU7 and 2007- 2008 for Bulgaria and Romania, due to data availability and to allow for comparisons to be made.

 

Methodology for gap filling

no gap filling has been applied 

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

 

Data sets uncertainty

The change in recording tonnage from Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) to Gross Tonnage (GT) has taken place over a number of years throughout the 1990s and at varying rates in different countries. Given that the GT of a vessel is generally significantly greater than the GRT, great care has to be taken in comparing the tonnages of the various fleets at different times. Recording of tonnage by GT was largely complete by the end of 2002.

 

Data sets are fragmented both temporally and spatially. Moreover, data available in a consistent manner is lacking for EU7 before 2004 and for Bulgaria and Romania before 2007.

Rationale uncertainty

Restructuring the fleet and reducing its capacity do not necessarily lead to reduction in fishing pressure as advances in technology and design allow new vessels to exert more fishing pressure than older vessels of equivalent tonnage and power. Therefore capacity, as currently measured, is not showing the effective fishing pressure that is being exerted by European fishing fleets.  Other vessel characteristics, such as fishing gear, level of activity and technological developments must also be accounted for if fishing pressure and its impact on marine ecosystems is to be properly assessed.

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Generic metadata

Topics:

Fisheries Fisheries (Primary topic)

Coasts and seas Coasts and seas

Tags:
fisheries | soer2010 | csi
DPSIR: Pressure
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CSI 034
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Constança De Carvalho Belchior

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
Filed under: , ,

Comments

European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100