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Fishing fleet capacity

Indicator Assessmentexpired Created 29 Oct 2010 Published 12 Sep 2011 Last modified 04 Sep 2015, 06:59 PM
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This content has been archived on 03 Mar 2015, reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/fishing-fleet-capacity-2/assessment was published)
Indicator codes: CSI 034

Key messages

The overall size and capacity (power and tonnage) of the European fishing fleets continues to follow a downward trend in all countries groups – EU15, EFTA, EU7, and Bulgaria and Romania. There are still however important issues concerning data availability and quality that need to be overcome to allow for a more robust assessment, especially for the Member States who have most recently joined the EU.

The average size of vessels seems to be increasing in EU15 and EFTA, whereas in EU7 and in Bulgaria and Romania there seems to be a downward trend.

The increase in the average size of vessels in the main European fishing fleets, i.e. EU15 and EFTA, possibly indicates a shift towards trawlers and purse seines, which are usually larger than vessels using passive gear and hence exert a greater fishing pressure. Also, other parameters such as technological developments, type of fishing gear and level of activity should be included in the analysis of fleet capacity to more accurately assess the effective fishing capacity of the European fishing fleet.

 

Is the size and capacity of the European fishing fleet being reduced?

Changes in European fishing fleet capacity

Note: The figure shows changes in fishing fleet capacity and size between 1998 and 2008 in EU15 and EFTA countries. Countries have been grouped into the following categories: EU15 - Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom; EFTA - Iceland, Norway.

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Change in fishing fleet capacity and size

Note: The figure shows changes in fishing fleet capacity and size between 2004 and 2008 for EU7 and 2007 and 2008 for Bulgaria and Romania. Countries have been grouped into the following categories: EU7 - Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Slovenia; and Bulgaria and Romania.

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Changes in power of the European fishing fleet

Note: The figure shows changes in the power of the European fishing fleet. Countries have been grouped into the following categories: EU15 - Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom; EFTA: Iceland, Norway; EU7 - Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Slovenia; and Bulgaria and Romania

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Changes in tonnage of the European fishing fleet

Note: The figure shows changes in the tonnage of the European fishing fleet. Countries have been grouped into the following categories: EU15 - Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom; EFTA - Iceland, Norway; EU7 - Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Slovenia; and Bulgaria and Romania.

Data source:
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Changes in number of vessels of the European fishing fleet

Note: The figure shows the changes in the number of vessels of the European fishing fleet. Countries have been grouped into the following categories: EU15 - Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Finland, Sweden, United Kingdom; EFTA - Iceland, Norway; EU7 - Estonia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Slovenia; and Bulgaria and Romania

Data source:
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Key assessment – is fishing fleet capacity being reduced?

Between 1998 and 2008, EU15 reduced its power by 20%, its tonnage by 16% and its numbers of vessels by 24% (Figure 1). In the same period, EFTA fleet slightly decreased its power (1%) and tonnage (6%), but more significantly its number of vessels (45%). In spite of data availability and quality issues, trends in EU7 and Bulgaria and Romania also show reductions (Figure 2). In EU7, from 2004 to 2008, power and tonnage were reduced by 25% and number of vessels by 3%, and in Bulgaria and Romania, from 2007 to 2008, there was a 2% decrease in power, 6% in tonnage, but no significant changes in relation to number of vessels.

If, however, average size of vessels (calculated as vessel tonnage divided by numer of vessels) is considered, it has increased in EU15 and EFTA by 10% and 71% respectively, while it decreased by 20% in EU7 and by 6% in Bulgaria and Romania (Figure 1 and 2).

 

Specific assessment of the various components of fishing fleet capacity:

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.


Power

The power of the EU-15 fleet capacity has gradually decreased (20%), whereas the power of the EFTA fleet has only decreased slightly (~1%) (Figure 3). EU7’s fleet power has remained stable, while there is a slight decrease in Bulgaria and Romania as well (~2%). In 2008, the total power of the fishing fleet amounted to 6.4 GW in the EU-15, 1.7 GW in EFTA countries, 0.4 GW in EU-7 countries and 0.08 GW in Bulgaria and Romania.

Tonnage

The EU-15 fleet was gradually reduced in tonnage by approximately 16% and  the EFTA fleet experienced a 6 % decrease (Figure 4). The fleets of EU-7 faced an important decrease of 25% and those of Bulgaria and Romania one of 6%. The fishing fleet tonnage consisted in 2008 of 1.7 million  tonnes in the EU-15,  0.52 million  tonnes in the EFTA countries, 0.16 million tonnes in the EU-7 countries, and 0.01 million tonnes in Bulgaria and Romania.

Number of vessels

Both EU-15 and EFTA fleets have gradually reduced their numbers of vessels (24% and 45 %) (Figure 5). The fleet of EU-7 has decreased by 20% , while in Bulgaria and Romania there were no significant changes in relation to number of vessels. In 2008 there were 77 934 fishing vessels in the EU-15, 8323 in the EFTA countries, 5363 in the EU-7 countries, and 3290 in Bulgaria and Romania.

 

Has fishing pressure of the European fishing fleet been reduced?

This key assessment shows that, overall, the European fishing fleets have been significantly reduced in size, power and tonnage over the past years. Since these parameters are considered as the main measure to assess fishing fleet capacity, this could thus translate into a lesser pressure on the various fish stocks. However, power, tonnage and number of vessels are not a direct measure of the fishing capacity and thus also not a measure of potential fishing pressure of the fleet. There are several additional factors that should be considered to assess whether fishing pressure has been reduced:

 

·  The size of the vessels and their method of fishing. Larger vessels often use active fishing gears, like trawls and seine nets that are more effective than passive gears, like gill nets and long lines used by smaller vessels. Consequently, the increase in average size of vessels in the main European fishing countries fleets (EU15 and EFTA), may indicate increased fishing pressure, in spite of the observed reductions in power, tonnage and number of vessels.

 

·  The level of fishing activity.  How many vessels in the fleet are operating and for how many days at sea should be factored into parameters for measuring fishing fleet capacity to get a better estimate of the actual fishing effort.

 

·  Technological developments. The reductions in power, tonnage and fleet size have to be evaluated in relation to these developments, namely to the issues around the so called “technological creep”. Technological creep describes the fact that fishing vessels have become more efficient over time, which has allowed for bigger catches with lesser effort. This means that, in essence, a fishing fleet of constant capacity (in power, tonnage and number of vessels) can increase its “effective” capacity throughout the years and be able to catch more with the same fishing effort (i.e. the amount of time and fishing capacity used to harvest fish). 

Despite the term given, the developments in technology are usually not a continuous process, but are likely to happen in a jump manner, e.g. caused by introduction of new technology. However, for practical reasons the measurement of this technological creep is given as a yearly percentage and several studies suggest values around 3% yearly increases (Rijnsdorp et al., 2006; EC, 2008). The relevant question is thus if the observed decrease in the European fishing fleets capacity is sufficient to compensate for the technological development in efficiency.

Based on an assumed yearly technological creep of 3%, the necessary decrease in capacity that would enable keeping the effective capacity at a constant level would lie around 19.5%. Based on the observed decrease in fishing fleet capacity (Figure 1) and assuming no other reductions in effort are taking place (e.g. number of days at sea), it is evident that the reduction in capacity in most countries is not even able to compensate for the assumed technological development. Consequently, it is therefore very likely that the “effective” capacity and fishing pressure of the European fishing fleets have actually increased in several countries, especially among EU15 and EFTA countries.

 


References:

European Commission (EC) (2008). Commission Working Document. Reflections on further reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. 9pp.

Rijnsdorp, A. D., Daan, N., and Dekker, W. (2006). Partial fishing mortality per fishing trip: a useful indicator of effective fishing effort in mixed demersal fisheries, ICES J. of Mar. Sci. 63: 556-566.

Lutchman, I., des Clers, S., Van den Bossche, K. (2009). Overcapacity – What overcapacity? An evaluation of member states reporting on efforts to achieve a sustainable balance between capacity and fishing opportunities in 2007. Institute for European Environmental Policy. 38 pp.

Indicator specification and metadata

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.


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.

Data sources

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
Dynamic
Temporal coverage:
1998-2008
Geographic coverage:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, EU15, Belgium, Sweden, United Kingdom, Greece, Portugal, France, Finland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, Ireland, Netherlands, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Constança De Carvalho Belchior

Ownership

EEA Management Plan

2010 2.4.2 (note: EEA internal system)

Dates

Frequency of updates

Updates are scheduled once per year
Filed under: , ,
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100