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You are here: Home / Data and maps / Indicators / Fishing fleet capacity / Fishing fleet capacity (CSI 034) - Assessment published Feb 2009

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

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
 
Contents
 

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

Downloads and more info

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

Downloads and more info

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

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Fisheries, Eurostat

Downloads and more info

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

Downloads and more info

Country ratio in European Fishing Fleet Capacity: Tonnage, 2006

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Fisheries, EUROSTAT, FAO

Downloads and more info

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

Downloads and more info

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

Note: N/A

Data source:

DG Fisheries, EUROSTAT, FAO

Downloads and more info

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

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

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 in July-September (Q3)
Filed under: , ,

Comments

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