The EESC welcomes the European Commission's strategy on the energy transition in the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector, in an opinion requested by the Spanish Presidency and adopted at the July plenary. Recognising the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable, renewable and commercially viable energy alternatives, the EESC stresses the significance of achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

The EESC emphasises that the fishing industry plays a vital role in mitigating the effects of climate change. Fishers provide one of the healthiest animal proteins with a minimal carbon footprint, with emissions from the sector projected to account for a small fraction of the world total in 2023, underscoring the industry's relatively low environmental impact. Nevertheless, the EESC urges for continued efforts to enhance energy efficiency and reduce emissions further.

"The decarbonisation of the fishing sector requires a comprehensive approach, financial incentives and embracing zero-emission energy sources", said rapporteur of the opinion, Javier Garat Pérez. "We have to balance realism and ambition. We need an appropriate and realistic decarbonisation timetable that considers technological, logistical, and legislative developments. The cost of the transition should not burden employers and workers in the maritime sectors or leave anyone behind. Balancing the goals of decarbonisation with economic viability is crucial for a successful energy transition".

The EESC recognises the challenges posed in the development and global availability of alternative and innovative green technologies. The EESC suggests hybridisation as an intermediate solution, while also exploring options beyond fossil fuels. In addition, it notes that any energy source change will require new vessels to be designed in a completely new way, with higher on-board capacity (gross tonnage) to accommodate new machinery. The EESC therefore calls on the European Commission to review the definition of "fishing capacity" in order to be able to implement new technologies related to the energy transition. (ks)