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EU Blue Economy Observatory
News article1 February 2023

New report: EU must quicken its transition to a low-carbon fishing industry.

A new report released on February 1 by Oceana looks into ways to cut fuel use to support this transition as the European Commission gets ready to release a strategy to speed up the energy transition in the EU fisheries sector. According to the paper, there are numerous possible ways to reach the EU's goals of becoming climate neutral by 2050 and lowering the fishing industry's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

The report reveals that mobile bottom-contacting fisheries (such as bottom trawlers) are the most fuel-intensive fishing techniques in the EU (in terms of litres of fuel used per kilo of landed fish). This high fuel dependency is largely due to bottom trawlers requiring particularly large quantities of fuel and powerful engines to drag their gear through the seabed. Bottom-contacting gears also release large amounts of carbon stored in the seabed into the water, possibly as much as 10 to 15 times the amount of carbon released through fuel burnt during fishing activities, according to the report. It goes on to say that while fishing tends to be considered a low-carbon source of food, the most fuel-intensive and least energy-efficient fishing techniques available, such as bottom trawling, could result in emissions comparable to those of land-based animal protein production.  

The report’s findings serve to feed into the European Commission’s upcoming strategy to promote the EU fisheries sector’s energy transition, in the context of the EU’s efforts to make its climate, energy, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net GHG emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. In the fishing sector, this translates to a reduction of 30% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels.

Oceana report: A pathway to decarbonise the EU fisheries sector by 2050

Oceana briefing: Fisheries and the climate crisis – an urgent gap to be addressed in European fisheries management


Publication date
1 February 2023