Small-scale coastal fisheries in European Seas are not what they were: Ecological, social and economic changes

Josep Lloret*, Ian G. Cowx, Henrique Cabral, Margarida Castro, Toni Font, Jorge M.S. Gonçalves, Ana Gordoa, Ellen Hoefnagel, Sanja Matić-Skoko, Eirik Mikkelsen, Beatriz Morales-Nin, Dimitrios K. Moutopoulos, Marta Muñoz, Miguel Neves Dos Santos, Pedro Pintassilgo, Cristina Pita, Konstantinos I. Stergiou, Vahdet Ünal, Pedro Veiga, Karim Erzini

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


Coastal, small-scale fisheries (SSF), whether artisanal (professional) or recreational, represent important socioeconomic activities across Europe that are currently undergoing a number of changes. This paper reviews and analyses the drivers of these changes, and makes recommendations for the future management of SSF. From the biological standpoint, the use of fishing gears that actively select certain species, sizes and sexes, the deployment of fishing gears on certain fragile habitats, the loss of fishing gears and the use of non-native species as bait are examples of how SSFs can threaten the sustainability of vulnerable coastal species and habitats. From a socioeconomic perspective, several factors are altering the traditional characteristics of coastal SSF. Among the most important is the growth of recreational fisheries in coastal waters and the disappearance of traditional low technology fisheries or their substitution by more mechanised, technical fisheries, which is leading to a loss of the traditional ecological knowledge held by artisanal fishers. On the other hand, the increasing competition between artisanal and recreational fisheries, and between them and commercial fishing operations, are also altering the classical features of coastal fisheries in some European countries. SSFs must adapt to the requirements of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), namely management based on Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), multi-annual management plans and ecosystem based principles. It is concluded that it is necessary to integrate different assessment approaches (biological, social and economic), with active participation from stakeholders, governments and relevant research institutions, to better evaluate and manage coastal fisheries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-186
JournalMarine Policy
Early online date24 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • Artisanal fisheries
  • Marine protected areas
  • Recreational fisheries
  • Selective fisheries
  • Traditional ecological knowledge


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