Great skua in flight close to a fishing boat

EU Common Fisheries Policy

A new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) – the rules and regulations for fishing in EU waters – came into force in 2013.

Rebuilding fish stocks

The RSPB and other environmental NGOs worked hard to ensure that the new laws help protect Europe's marine life and the fishing communities that depend on it.

The reformed CFP is landmark in the fight to save our seas: EU Member states must rebuild fish stocks above sustainable levels, where possible, by 2015 and by 2020 at the latest where reductions in fishing would seriously jeopardise the social and economic sustainability of the fishing fleets involved.

Dumping fish at sea – called discarding – will be banned over the next few years.

Fishing responsibly

A big step forward is the new onus on Member States to use environmental and social criteria in allocating fishing opportunities, creating an unprecedented incentive for those who fish responsibly.

Also, for the first time, the CFP must support rather than hinder the EU's environmental objectives, including the Birds Directive which lays out Governments’ responsibilities to protect birds and their habitats.

Unfortunately, the new deal falls short of what is truly needed to stop overfishing, and we have concerns about the political will of Governments to enforce the new rules.

However, thanks to the perseverance of environmental groups and our supporters, the new CFP is a sea change on a number of fronts, especially in rewarding fishermen with the lightest footprint on the marine environment, and investing in truly sustainable fisheries and the recovery of marine ecosystems.