Securing the future - Implementing reform in European Fisheries

EAFE 2013
Conference highlights
Press Releases

The EAFE 2013 conference was held at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh
from 15th -17th April.


The theme of the conference was Securing the future – Implementing reform in European Fisheries. Keynote speakers included Ms Lowri Evans, Director General of DG Mare, Mr Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Environment & Rural Affairs, Prof Thomas Sterner, visiting Chief Economist at EDF, Prof Ragnar Tveteras, Head of Stavanger Centre for Innovation Research and Mr Mike Park, Chief Executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association.


Over 90 delegates from around Europe and the world attended from places as far afield as Japan, Alaska and throughout Europe. They enjoyed a packed schedule of presentations, special sessions and events at the conference, which was hosted in Scotland for the first time by Seafish.

A variety of key topics and issues were on the agenda for discussion at the conference, including the cultural and social values of fisheries, data collection and analysis in fisheries management, and economic implications of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.

The aims of the XX1st EAFE Conference were to contribute to the EAFE objectives, which are:

  • to promote cooperation in economic research in fisheries and aquaculture;
  • to help disseminate information about fisheries economics among members;
  • to further understanding of the economics of fisheries and aquaculture; and
  • to serve as a channel of communication with other interested bodies.

Conference Organising Committee

Hazel Curtis, / Ralf Döring, / Sasha Maguire, / Hans van Oostenbrugge,


Scientific Committee

Jesper Levring Andersen (Chair), Raúl Prellezo, Bertrand le Gallic, Frank Asche.

The Reception and Poster Session, sponsored by Marine Scotland, included a speech by industry representative Mike Park, Chief Executive of the Scottish White Fish Producers Association, which emphasised the importance of collaboration between industry and economists, to ensure production of accurate and reliable analysis of industry business performance.

The poster session incorporated the following subjects:

  • The Dutch Approach: Sustainable and economic viable fisheries
  • An economic perspective about fishermen Guilds in the Basque Country and Spain
  • The Fish4Knowledge Project: Massive Live, Marine Fish Observation and Analysis
  • A turning tide for North America's Fisheries
  • Evaluating the Impacts of Integrating Fisheries and Conservation Management
  • A GIS based tool for identifying fisheries dependent local communities in Europe

The Scottish-Themed Conference Dinner proved very popular, with delegates welcomed by a traditional Scottish Piper. The hotel was a fitting location, as it was once home to the Economics Department of conference hosts, Heriot-Watt University.

Prizes sponsored by Heriot-Watt University for best policy paper and best student paper were awarded on the evening by the EAFE president.

Prize winner

  • Heather STEWART
    Best Student Paper
    Ownership, Access and the Right to Fish: The Influence of Economic Ideas,
    Concepts and Local Interests on UK Fisheries Policy, 1945 -1984


Prize winner

    • Richard CURTIN
      Best paper informing key policy questions relating to implementing fisheries reform
      Measuring fishing capacity in Europe; an application of the STECF indicators on the Basque offshore fleet.


The EAFE reception and presentation rooms were manned by Jen Reid from Seafish and a group of Heriot-Watt Economics Society undergraduates, who enjoyed taking part in the conference and meeting economists from around the world.

There were over sixty abstracts for the conference within the following topics:
  • Access to fisheries and the right to fish
  • Investment, incentives and subsidies in fisheries management
  • Social role of fisheries ‐ the cultural and social values of fisheries, distribution of wealth from fisheries
  • Business performance, risk and return in stock recovery situations Aquaculture's role in the production and supply chain
  • Discards and waste
  • Role of fisheries and fisheries economics in marine spatial planning
  • Europe in the global seafood market
  • Common organisation of the market in the EU
  • Economic implications of Ecosystem‐Based Management (EBM) of fisheries
  • Economic Indicators for sustainability monitoring (Good
  • Environmental Status, EBM), Marine Strategy
  • Data collection and analysis in fisheries
In addition the following special sessions ran:
  • SOCIOEC - Socio-economic assessment of Management Measures of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) First results and upcoming research
  • FishRent – Model improvements and Applications
  • Designing Catch Shares to Rejuvenate Fisheries (EDF)
  • Impacts of the removal of the fuel tax exemptions
  • Industry and economists discussion on economic data for fisheries management, collection and use of data

Special film screening: The Business of Fishing

There was also a special film screening of the Seafish documentary 'The Business of Fishing'. The film featured four fishing vessel owners from areas around the UK and highlighted both the day to day and the strategic aspects of running a business in the fishing industry. If you would like to watch this film please email TO DOWNLOAD A SUMMARY OF PRESENTATIONS FROM THE CONFERENCE click here SPECIAL SESSION: Impacts of the removal of the fuel tax exemptions Access to fisheries and the right to fish Modelling: Session Chair: Thomas Thogersen Data collection and analysis in fisheries Investment, incentives and subsidies in fisheries management   Aquaculture's role in the production and supply chain Social role of fisheries - the cultural and social values of fisheries, distribution of wealth from fisheries SPECIAL SESSION : FISHRENT - Model improvements and applications

Conference calls for more economic evidence to influence fisheries' policy makers

  18 April 2013 The Director-General of DG Mare, European Commission has revealed economists within the EC are finally winning the argument that policy decisions affecting European fisheries need to be based as much on economic evidence as they are on biological concerns. Lowri Evans said policy makers need to view the fishing industry as an area where many more jobs can be created and profitability improved. She said the economic and social benefits of having a thriving fishing industry should be given just as much consideration as the biology of European fisheries. And she issued a rallying call to academics, scientists and economists to work with the European Commission to ensure they had the best possible data and analysis available to help them make positive policy reform to help the fishing industry grow. Speaking at the 21st European Association of Fisheries Economists (EAFE) conference Ms Evans said: "We need to better understand the economics of the fishing sector. "In the past we were traditionally focused on the biology of fisheries - but sticking to pure biology has its limitations as fishing is an economic activity. The fishing sector must be treated like all other sectors in policy terms, which we can particularly see in this period of economic recession. The context we are working in now is one of enhancing jobs and growth, just as in any other sector of the economy. We are pushing for more jobs and more growth in the fishing sector. But we cannot make policy in a vacuum." "We need an enormous amount of collaboration with scientists and academia to make sure we have the best possible fact and evidence based analysis available to our policy makers. Each reform proposal we discuss should be accompanied by data on what impact it would have not just on stocks but also on jobs, income and the profitability of the sector as a whole. We want to improve what we are doing, and we need our scientists, economists and academia to provide that research." Ms Evans told the conference, which was organised by Seafish and is being held at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, there were many areas where large amounts of economic research was needed to improve fishing related policy. She said: "If you look at the issue of over-capacity - we have member states saying to us 'I haven't got over-capacity but there is general over-capacity, although it's my neighbour's problem'. We are at the beginning of breaking that down, but there is still a lot of fog around the issue of capacity management. We need people doing the relevant research to give us the fact based evidence in terms of what the policy should be for the future." Ms Evans said she wanted to see research carried out on how fishing subsidies impact the fishing sector, and how fishing sustainability levels change the profitability of differing fish sectors. She said she also wanted to see much greater research carried out on the subject of fishing quotas. She said: "We are winning the political argument that the setting to TACs and quotas should be science based, and we are trying to make sure that the policy and the implementation of the policy is rooted in a wide base of both social and economic data and that it also relates to the jobs dimension. "We need a lot more analysis in the areas of how members distribute their quota allocations, as even though this is member state business, it is a key economic and social variable. We want to know how they allocate to small scale fleets compared to large scale fleets? We want to know who benefits in terms of jobs; who gets these jobs and how well paid they are? We also need to know how quota allocation choices can affect incentives and fishing behaviours, for example, in terms of discards." She added: "It is very important that we move away from having our focus purely on catch, but look also at areas including production and marketing. We want to improve the attractiveness of the sector to bring more young people in. And we will continue the focus on the sustainable development of fishery dependent areas." Ms Evans said more had to be done to support micro projects, where small numbers of jobs were being created in fishing related communities through innovative business ventures. She gave examples of a small project in Denmark where four new jobs had been created by the production of a new generation of food made from seaweed, and of a project in Galicia, Spain, where 27 shellfish gatherers had come together to develop new products based on their collection of goose barnacles. She added: "Job promotion and job growth can come from lots of areas. We know the fishing industry can be suspicious of us, but we are not about to kill the industry. And I hope we can continue the collaboration we have had with EAFE with a view to collectively helping the fishing industry in Europe grow." Hazel Curtis, Chief Economist at Seafish and President of EAFE, welcomed Ms Evans' keynote address at the conference - which had the theme 'Securing the future: Implementing reform in European Fisheries. She said: "It is great to hear directly from the Commission exactly what their priorities are. It is good to know the importance they put on having an understanding of the economics of fishing. Getting good outcomes from fishing management means you have to understand the people running the businesses, and how they make their business decisions as fishing is an economic activity. You cannot just understand the fish - you have to understand the fishermen." She added: "It is good to know that the analysis we are conducting is finding its way into political discussions, and to have clear statements about the policies that need more economic information. "We are also delighted Ms Evans has said the Commission hopes to continue and to grow its association with EAFE."

Richard Lochhead - scientists and economists play a key role in fisheries

18 April 2013 Scottish Fisheries Minister Richard Lochhead confessed that balancing the economic and environmental pressures of Scotland's fishing industry often kept him awake at night. The Scottish Government Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment said the fishing industry was at a crossroads. But he said those working within the industry had proved themselves to be both innovative and flexible when it came to changing markets and policy reform. And he said the Scottish Goverment would work with the fishing industry in pursuit of evidence based policies that would help safeguard the future of Scotland's fishing industry and fishing communities. Mr Lochhead MSP said: "Fishing is something that flows through the veins of Scotland. "The industry has battled through some challenging times but our fishing businesses have adapted. "Yes - our fleet is smaller, but it's more flexible. "Our fishermen face difficult times - it is a difficult job, and the market can be just as tough as the seas. "For the last few decades the Common Fisheries Policy has been a big problem - but now it is has taken a big step forward and it's being reformed. "There are going to be big changes because of that - such as a discard ban. "There will be no business-as-usual for the fishing sector. "We have to reduce by-catch. "We have to further protect the marine ecosystem and the list goes on. "Trail-blazing methods have been adopted in our waters in terms of fisheries conservation, but getting the balance right between the economic pressures we face and the environmental pressures we face often keeps me awake at night. "Our stocks are beginning to recover, but we still want better conservation, better regulation and better reforms." Mr Lochhead was speaking at the European Association of Fisheries' Economists annual conference which was organised by Seafish and held at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh. He told the conference that scientists and economists played a key role in ensuring that policy makers had the best evidence based data and analysis available to them when making fisheries decisions. And he said that one area where he knew economists and politicians may clash was over the management of fishing quota. He said: "Depoliticising the fishing industry would be great, but I am not sure how we would do that in a democracy. "In terms of quota and 'days at sea' that is a huge debate. "In my experience of the thorny issue of how you manage quota, the starting point for many economists would be ITQ - Individual Transferable Quotas - but I have broader goals to achieve. "I do not want Tesco superstore owning our rights, and I do not want those with foreign interests owning them. "I want us to oversee our own rights. "I want future generations of Scottish coastal communities to be able to fish in their own seas and I don't want anyone else stopping us doing that. "The true value of our fisheries must be measured in far more than quayside prices." He added: "Sometimes too decommissioning scheme might be most economically efficient, but if a critical mass goes below a certain point then the whole port will fail. "We have to look at the local community." Mr Lochhead said it was also important to put quality of fish stocks before quantity. He said: "We want people to associate Scottish sea fish with the words of 'sustainability' and 'quality'." And he bitterly attacked what he called the European Union's "disastrous Cod Recovery Plan" which he said was continuing to have a detrimental effect on the Scottish fleet. He said: "We have spent so much money trying to deal with the fallout of the CRP on Scotland. "The CRP is absolutely bonkers and counterproductive. "We are forcing boats that damage cod stocks to stay in those areas. "Reform of the CRP must be made much easier. Everyone accepts it is not working and that it is damaging, but we cannot fix it and that's not acceptable."

Going dutch

18 April 2013 How becoming entrepreneurs has made the fishing industry in the Netherlands more sustainable and economically viable. Changing the mind-set of Dutch fishermen to help them see themselves as entrepreneurs has proved a huge success for the fishing industry in the Netherlands. Kees Taal of the LEI Wageningen University and Research Centre, told the EAFE conference that encouraging Dutch fishermen to think and act more like businessmen has helped improve profitability. He told how the Dutch equivalent of the Department of Fisheries had brought fishermen together in a bid to promote innovation and encourage them to share good practice. He said persuading the fishermen to look beyond simply landing their catches of fish had motivated them to learn more about the wider industry. And he said the net result was a forward thinking Dutch fishing fleet that was learning how to make more money without needing to catch more fish. Mr Taal said: "In the Netherlands the Government thought about how they could best help the sector to be mature in the future. "Most vessels were family owned business - and all these small boats never really cooperated together to make their own policy. "The Dutch fisheries sector was facing a lot of problems. "Technical development of fishing gear was stagnant. "Costs were high - particularly fuel costs. "And the use of vessels was not very efficient. "What we did was very simple. "We showed them that they were not just fishermen - they were entrepreneurs, and that as entrepreneurs they should be aware of other things than just finding fish and fishing that fish. "We agreed that it can be difficult to go to sea and earn your money, and at the same time be an entrepreneur because when you are at sea you can miss a lot of things. "So we set up a Fisheries Knowledge Network where fishermen could share knowledge and we installed a Fisheries Innovation Platform." Mr Taal said the simple act of bringing fishermen together and helping them change their way of thinking, had made the Dutch industry more sustainable and economically viable. He said fishermen were now working closely with each other and with researchers to breed innovative ideas and share information about everything from technical issues to environmental issues, marketing and economic issues, to sustainability. He said: "The fisherman had a lack of information about the market. "They didn't know what happened in the fish chain further on - they simply landed their fish and as far as they were concerned that was it. "But we helped them see that once the fish is sold, a lot is going on." Mr Taal told the conference that encouraging Dutch fishermen to be more innovative had helped them find new markets. He said they were encouraged to set up a system of research and development just like any other kind of business. And he said the response from the fishermen had included everything from developing new kinds of fishing techniques, the introduction of improved fishing gear, and even adding value to the fish they caught by filleting it themselves. Mr Taal said: "The fishermen knew the goal was not to catch more fish, but to catch fish in a better way and a cheaper way. "We wanted to make the fishermen more aware of what was happening on the shore and encourage them to find innovative ways to better manage and run their business. "And this is very much a continuing story - as you cannot say 'I have innovated already', you have to continue to be in front of it." Mr Taal said that by working together the Dutch government, scientists and fisherman had helped safeguard the future of the industry. He said: "One example of success is that our fisherman pursued new breeding methods for oysters, they found out about sustainable harvesting and efficiency, then did their market research and found new markets for these oysters in Russia. "Their knowledge about consumer needs led to a rise in profitability." He revealed changes in the fishing techniques used for catching flatfish had brought fuel savings of up to 60 per cent, alongside a reduction in discards and unwanted by-catch of between 30-50 per cent. He added: "The concept of Fishery Knowledge Networks is working well in the Netherlands. "Our fishermen have become more entrepreneurial and new ideas have been born. "We know many European fisheries and fishing communities face similar challenges and we should be able to work together. "We hope to see International Knowledge Networks in the near future."

Scrapping - a drive for change

18 April 2013 The controversial policies of subsidies and scrapping were the subject of much debate at the 21st Europearn Association of Fisheries Economists conference. Professor Thomas Sterner, visiting Chief Economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, asked delegates to imagine similar policies being applied to other problem issues - such as traffic congestion. Prof Sterner said: "Every day we a see a lot of people trying to get to their work in morning, spending a lot of time stuck in the traffic. "It is hard to live in cities such as Brussels, Paris and London and have to try to get through this congestion. "But what is the solution? "If we follow the advice of the Commission maybe we should have scrapping subsidies for cars or be offering subsidies for people to buy faster cars or bigger cars, and so on. "Who thinks giving subsidies for bigger and more cars would be a great solution to the problem of congestion on our city streets? "The answer is no-one. "We should use that insight when we think about fisheries. "The effect of subsidies being given to car owners would be more congestion and reduced welfare. "It would be hard to design subsidies that did the job required and didn't make the problem worse. "It would be better to introduce a congestion fee which is what they have done in London." Prof Sterner said over-capacity within the fishing industry was an issue that policy makers had to address. He said the economic concept of Production Function, where more input gives more output, was not true when it came to fisheries. And he said while introducing a fee to reduce over-capacity could work it would cause problems of its own. He said: "In fisheries if you fish more you do get more fish, but if you fish even more you get less fish as you obviously deplete the stocks. "Such stock depletion has to be brought in to any fishery policies. "If we let the market operate without any property rights then we would get excessive fishing. "Technical progress has also led to over-capacity. "It is horrible to say there are too many fishermen, but we have to recognise that is one of the effects of technical progress. "With even more technical progress we get more potential profit, but the trouble is then technical progress is pushing us towards extinction. "Some people believe in trying to stop technical progress, but that suggestion is hardly even worth calling second best. He said: "The purpose of Fishing Policy must be to get the maximum yield and avoid stock collapse. "A fee would be better than subsidies, but it is not a friendly policy and so it has never been tried." Earlier at the conference the Director-General of DG Mare, European Commission, Lowri Evans admitted she did not support subsidies for the scrapping of vessels. She said: "We do not like scrapping. "We do not think scrapping subsidies have worked - they have not been effective to reduce over-capacity, and that has been confirmed by analysis and is very clear cut. "The Council has half accepted our argument that scrapping has to be scrapped, but it will not happen immediately. "A lot less money will be spent on it, and I would also expect more conditionality attached to it."

Get rights right

18 April 2013 One of the world's leading environmental economists has revealed he is part of the problem when it comes to depletion of fish stocks. Professor Thomas Sterner, who is Visiting Chief Economist at the Environmental Defense Fund, has admitted he is a keen recreational fisherman. But he says his passion for fishing and love of the sea makes him the ideal candidate to discuss management of fishing rights with both fishermen and industry leaders. And he told the European Assoication of Fisheries Economists that the contentious issue of fishing rights is an important area the industry must not not shy away from. Prof Sterner told the EAFE conference: "It is painful to realise that I am part of the problem myself. "Even recreational fishermen can now extinct a fish stock. "But I am an economist who likes to talk to fishermen and who is quite passionate about the sea and fishing." Prof Sterner said he had seen with his own eyes how depletion of fish stocks had effected fishing communities. He said: "Thirty or 40 years ago, in the coastal communities living in the west of Sweden, parents who wanted to have dinner would start peeling potatoes and tell their kids to run down to the dock and come back with some fish. "Any small child with no particular equipment would be back with a couple of fish within half an hour. "But that is no longer the case. "Now fly fishermen there compete for fish that are no longer worth catching. "The stocks have gone." Prof Sterner said that allowing the fishing industry to operate without property rights resulted in excessive fishing. He said good relations and good collaboration was needed between fishermen and policy makers over rights management. And he said everything from deciding how best to allocate quotas, to understanding the biology of differing fish stocks and the sub-species within them, made managing fishing rights extremely complex. He said: "The allocation of rights is an important and contentious issue and we have to get it right. "There are lots of things we can do - and lots of possible policies. "But it is not enough to say that there are things we can do. "We have to do something." Prof Sterner gave an example of a small fishing community where differing families who each had a long tradition of fishing were to be given Individual Transferable Quotas. He said that over time the family given the largest share of quota could become hugely wealthy as a result of what they do with their ITQ - even if the family itself stops fishing altogether. In contrast the family given the smallest share could stay in the industry, work tirelessly towards preserving a sustainable fishing industry, and still find they are struggling to make a living. He said legislation concerning everything from the allocation, to the leasing or selling of rights had to be carefully thought out. He said: "ITQs have successfully taken over around half of the fisheries in the US and about a quarter of the world's fisheries "There is seldom much critique about the profit, but there is much critique on the equity. "ITQs can be good, but they have to be written right." Hazel Curtis, Chief Economist at Seafish and President of EAFE thanked Professor Sterner for his "interesting view from the general field of resource economics". She commented that "the keynote presentation was very timely given Marine Scotland's recently commissioned research into fishing rights that Mr Lochhead referred to in his closing address to the conference. It is especially important for those considering choices and possibilities in fishing rights to appreciate the difference between the rights system itself - how it functions - and the allocation of rights - how the rights are shared out among individuals or groups. These are two different questions and we often find people rejecting a rights-based system purely because they fear that the initial allocation of rights would be inequitable or not in their favour. It is not the who rights-based system they are rejecting then, but the way in which shares or rights are allocated." She added: "The challenge once we know all this in theory is how do you make this work and deliver sustainable benefits to society in practice?"

Fishing fleet tourism

18 April 2013 Scientists are set to study what value the presence of a fishing fleet brings to a local community in terms of tourism. Myriam Robert, of the University of Brest in France, said surveys are to be carried out in both the UK and France to find out how many people visit a particular fishing community because they want to see the fishing boats. And she said they will also attempt to determine the economic benefit of such trips. Ms Robert, who presented a paper to the EAFE conference titled 'European fishing subsidies allocation and public choices', said: "We are looking at the value that is brought simply by the presence of a fishing fleet. "We are aware of people coming to a particular place to see fishing vessels regardless of the productivity of that fleet. "A survey will be conducted in two places in France and one place in the UK, and we plan to ask tourists would they come to these places if the fishing fleet was not there. "We will also find out how much they spend on these trips."

EAFE - Aquaculture growth under the spotlight

18 April 2013 One of the world's leading experts on Innovation Research has called for more 'bright minds' to join the aquaculture industry after warning the growth of global aquaculture had fallen sharply. Professor Ragner Tveteras of University of Stavanger in Norway, said sustained production within aquaculture had to be accompanied by production growth. And he said advanced research, development and innovation was the key to ensuring both global aquaculture and aquaculture within EU countries continued to grow. Professor Tveteras, who is Head of the Stavanger Centre for Innovative Reasearch, said: "Global aquaculture has been growing pretty fast - but over the last few years we have had lower growth rates than in some periods earlier. "The last 10 years have not been as good as the preceding decade. "Asia is the giant when it come to aquaculture, it dwarfs other regions and has driven much of the growth. "Europe is losing market share over time, and countries within the EU are performing worse than the rest." Professor Tveteras said that between 1981 and 1990 global aquaculture had grown by 170 per cent, but between 2001 and 2010 growth had dropped to 76 per cent. He also revealed that in 1970 Europe had been responsible for 16 per cent of aquaculture production, but by 2010 that figure had fallen to just 3 per cent. Professor Tveteras said the growth of the industry could be influenced by many factors including technical progress and regulation. And he said differing regulation of the same species between differing countries could have huge localised effects. He said: "If you look at Atlantic Salmon for example - there is a case where you can argue that salmon aquaculture production technology is the same in all countries, but these countries have differing regulations. "Salmon aquaculture in Norway is growing. "Then in the UK, Canada and the United States salmon aquaculture has grown, but it has stagnated over the last 10 years, so we could argue that regulation in those countries is too strict. "But if you look at salmon production in Chile you could argue that regulations were too lax, so disease pressure was too high in Chile and disease broke out. "These countries had the same technologies, many of the same opportunities, but regulations have caused different outcomes." Professor Tveteras told the EAFE conference that innovation had to be seen as a major driver of aquaculture growth. He said the industry needed increased innovation in areas including feed and feeding equipment, vaccines, genetics and fish cage technology. And he said a combination of private and public funding was necessary to encourage innovation and research and development. He said: "The story about the growth of aquaculture is not a story about a tree that grew into space. "It is often a story about stagnation, and it is often a story about decline, death and exit. "In Norwary firms are forced to pay a levy towards research and development. "Research and development is not the same as innovation, but it is critical for many future radical innovations that are required to ensure growth." In concluding his presentation Professor Tveteras said global aquaculture was growing at a slower rate, with aquaculture from EU countries growing even slower. He said: "It is time for serious rethinking. "Aquaculture is heading towards biological manufacture. "It needs to attract some of the brightest people both in industry and in research and development."