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Common Fishery Policy

Fishing communities are part of fragile ecosystems we must protect

Fishing is a particularly critical issue since:
  • the health of the oceans is crucial to our survival on this planet;
  • oceans are very sensitive and hugely affected by all human activities, be they land-based or aquatic (learn more about it on the Slow Fish campaign site);
  • a large and increasing proportion of the world population live in coastal areas (44% of the population);
  • fishing implies harvesting from wild stocks in a largely unknown environment;
  • aquatic ecosystems are very difficult to understand and monitor;
  • most of the food we harvest from the sea does not respect national boundaries (large fish are mostly migrant and swim through many different territorial waters).

All this means that all issues affecting the oceans and land are closely interrelated and cannot be solved without strong coordinated efforts by all populations, in all countries and on many different fronts.

As with agriculture, at first the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) focused largely on the economic development of fisheries and on giving people access to as much fish as possible at the cheapest prices possible, thus promoting and consolidating large industrial fishing fleets.

It's true that this strategy did meet its initial goal. Never before, in fact, had people had so much access to fish.
But, insofar as it largely underestimated the effects of overfishing, habitat destruction and damage to the balance of the ecosystem, as well as climate change and pollution, which are also devastating oceans and coastal communities, the strategy has now gone as far as it can.

It is high time that we focused on the conservation of the oceans and the livelihoods of fishing communities, which use much more sustainable methods, know the waters where they fish better than anyone else and ensure the well-being of millions of people in coastal areas.

We believe the first measures presented by the CFP are insufficient for conservation purposes and still fail to provide sufficient support to community-based fisheries.

We believe the CFP should:


  • strengthen scientific research at sea, at both national and community level;
  • provide strong incentives for all sustainable practices, while at once penalizing all unsustainable practices;
  • promote a truly territorial approach to allow the various local community representative bodies to decide the best way to manage their resources;
  • differentiate the measures applied to small-scale community-based fisheries from the ones applied to large-scale industrial operations;
  • fund education and training to promote a sustainable attitude to fishing and fish consumption;
  • use subsidies withheld from unsustainable vessels to encourage small-scale fishers to act as stewards of the oceans, thus recognizing and making the most their knowledge and allowing them to fish less.
  • improve the traceability of fish.

To know more:

Check out Slow Fish, the Slow Food campaign for sustainable fishing!!

Slow Fish is also an event, held every two years in Genova, Italy.


Position Documents
Slow Food's position paper on fisheries


Slow Food comments on the CFP reform 



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