Employment in Fisheries, 2009


Observations for policy

Overall, fisheries count for less than 1% of total employment in Europe’s coastal regions. However, large regional differences exist. In Iceland more than 8% of all employees work in fisheries, and also in other regions – most of them islands or rather remote areas – like Scotland, Northwest Spain, Northern Norway or the Azores, the fishing sector is still relevant for the labour market (3-4%).

Fisheries are in general more important at the Atlantic coast and the Arctic Sea. However, also for the Western Mediterranean Sea and the North Sea several regions can be identified for which fisheries are still relatively important (around 1% of total employment). On the other side, in several countries with long coastlines and thus a natural link to the sea like Ireland, Italy, Cyprus, Sweden or Finland, no region can be found where fisheries count for more than 0.9%. This, however, does not allow for conclusions regarding catch quantities or the impacts of fisheries on the natural environment.

Policy context

Europe’s fisheries policy has recently undergone a major reform process, which led to the entry into force of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) on January 1st, 2014. The revised CFP has the ambition to achieve a more sustainable management of halieutic resources. The European Maritime and Fisheries Funds (EMFF) is the financial source for the CFP’s implementation. One of its priorities refers to increasing employment in coastal and inland communities that depend on fishing and aquaculture. This includes the diversification of activities within fisheries and into other sectors of the maritime economy.

The Territorial Agenda 2020 furthermore emphasises that an intensification of fisheries can cause environmental problems and that uncoordinated exploitation of marine resources affects sustainable territorial development and cultural assets and landscapes. In the 6th Cohesion Report it is stated that Natura 2000 areas do not only protect habitats and species but also provide opportunities, for example for the development of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.

Map interpretation

The map displays the employment in fisheries in coastal regions as a share of total employment. There are large differences between the different regions when it comes to the relative importance of fisheries for the regional employment. Regions showing highest values are located either at the Atlantic Ocean or at the Arctic Sea: Iceland (8.3%), Northeast Scotland (3.9%), Galicia (3.8%), Nord-Norge in Norway (3.2%) and the Azores (2.9%).

It should be kept in mind that the spatial pattern of employment in fisheries in absolute terms is quite different, as high figures in the peripheral regions mentioned above are largely due to the limited development of other economic activities. Furthermore, fisheries are of economic importance for numerous other regions, as fish processing and commercialisation

There are two main areas where fishery is important in relative terms. One arc spans from Nord-Pas-de-Calais in Northern France along the French, Spanish and Portuguese Atlantic coast through Gibraltar to the Spanish and French Mediterranean coast until Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. A second area comprises parts of the North Sea and the Arctic sea, i.e. Northern regions of the UK, Denmark, the Norwegian coastline and Iceland. Regional hotspots can be found in Northeast Germany, in Latvia, Northeast and Southern Greece (including the islands in the Aegean sea), the Azores and in Bulgaria and the UK.

Concepts and methods

Employment in fisheries is presented for all EU28+4 coastal regions as a percentage of total employment. The values are grouped in five classes, ranging from 0.22-0.52% up to 1.20-8.27%.

The data for fisheries includes employees working in Fishing and aquaculture (marine and freshwater), Processing and preserving of fish etc., Production of oils and fat, Manufacture of prepared meals and dishes, Manufacture of cordage, rope, twine and netting, Manufacture of machinery for food, beverage and tobacco processing, Repair of other equipment, Wholesale of other food, included fish, crustaceans and molluscs, Retail sale of fish, crustaceans and molluscs in specialised stores, Technical testing and analyses, Research and experimental development on natural sciences and engineering.