The NWWAC highlights that the current form of the CFP limits the Commission's goals in the decarbonisation of the EU fishing fleet

The NWWAC highlights that the current form of the CFP limits the Commission’s goals in the decarbonisation of the EU fishing fleet

The North Western Waters Advisory Council has replied to the European Commission on their Call for Evidence for the initiative “Energy transition of EU fisheries and aquaculture sector”

They say that Financial, technical, innovation and governance barriers that hinder the uptake of technologies which are necessary for the energy transition have to be identified and addressed. One of the issues the NWWAC highlighted in decarbonising the EU fishing fleet was the fact that the Common Fisheries Policy is not fit for purpose if these changes are to be implemented.

BIM and RNLI man overboard training Donegal in January 2023

The Advisory Council (AC) said that their members recognised the need to reduce the carbon footprint of the fishing industry, and this gained more relevance with the soaring price of fuel that followed the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the AC advised the Commission to concentrate on the fact that as a high-protein food producers, the fishing industry contributed the least amount of CO2 emissions.

“The contribution of the total maritime sector to total CO2 emissions is less than 3%, with the fisheries sector’s footprint being very small. However, the sector understands the need and wishes to be part of the solution and not the problem, embracing the goal of decarbonisation from day one,” says the NWWAC.

The AC said it recognised the need for change and called attention to the ongoing developments in new technologies that would help reduce carbon emissions even further. They say:

“Technology that would support the decarbonisation of the sector is constantly developing and improving. Options include improvements in engine functioning and the use of different energy sources (solar, wind and hydrogen). LNG and hydrogen fuel-cell technologies seem to be the most promising alternatives. Quite a lot of activity is taking place worldwide in this regard. Such projects are good examples for the European sector to consider for future perspectives. Hydrogen technology could be a steppingstone towards a carbon free seafood industry. Electric power might be feasible for certain fleet segments, for example coastal, small-scale fleets. It is important that the fisheries sector receives adequate attention in the 2021-2027 funding programme to ensure that its needs are examined in the developments of these new technologies, while bearing in mind the risk of a withdrawal of banks from supporting investment in the context of the implementation of the Taxonomy regulation. The European Commission has been investing in research in hydrogen technology and has funded 108 projects related to this under the Horizon 2020 programme. However, only very few were related to the maritime sector and even fewer to the fishing sector.”

The NWWAC will launch an innovative online map tool called AC Fish Map, to improve accessibility to important fisheries-relevant data

The AC also highlighted alternative fuels and said that logistical issues need to be considered in relation to marketing, ports equipment (charging stations, LNG storage, etc.), maintenance and crew training. They say:

“EU fishing companies are continually devising and implementing creative solutions to save energy. However, the current technologies are still not a direct alternative to fossil fuels, and while the industry is trying to reduce its environmental impact by improving engine and gear efficiency, more knowledge is needed regarding technological possibilities.”

The AC advised that the Commission needs to recognise that the current form of the Common Fisheries Policy will cause limits to what can be achieved. The say:

“Moreover, it is important to consider the limitations on tonnage and propulsive power of EU vessels imposed by the 1992 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. While this has not changed in the past 25 years, it is a shared opinion among fishing professionals that vessel tonnage is poorly suited to the economic and technical challenges that arise for the construction of today’s vessels (including purposes of seeking better profitability, better crew comfort and installation of technologies that minimise the sector’s environmental footprint). The origin of the need for additional tonnage faced by fishing companies is possibly due to the fact that the current framework does not anticipate the implementation of new technologies (LNG, hydrogen, etc.) and does not consider the search for better energy efficiency beyond the current mandatory standard.

“Overall, there are both regulatory and technological constraints to the energy transition of EU fishing vessels. The NWWAC believes that the ongoing evaluation of the CFP can play a very important role in the development and evolution of this framework and thus in the energy transition of the EU fishing sector.”

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Current CFP limits decarbonisation of fishing fleet advises NWWAC

by editor time to read: 7 min
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