Decarbonisation of the fishing fleet

EESC opinion: Decarbonisation of the fishing fleet

Key Points


  • recognises the need to reduce CO2 emissions and fully supports the search for sustainable, renewable and commercially viable energy alternatives. 
  • points out that the European fleet has reduced its emissions by 50% since 1990. 
  • calls for an appropriate and realistic decarbonisation timetable in which technological, logistical and legislative developments go hand in hand.
  • recognises that the development and global availability of alternative and innovative green technologies, new fuels and carbon-neutral energy sources are the biggest challenges. 
  • sees hybridisation as an intermediate solution, even though it does not constitute immediately abandoning fossil fuels.
  • stresses that eco-fuels are the most viable alternative for steering the fisheries sector away from fossil fuels in the short term, although their price today is practically double that of diesel. 
  • calls for the fisheries sector to be given priority access to these advanced biofuels, and for adequate financial resources to accelerate their development. 
  • emphasises that, as long as these alternative fuels remain undeveloped, the ambitious targets set out in both the European Green Deal and the Fit for 55 package cannot be achieved.
  • believes that the huge cost of decarbonising a sector as difficult to electrify as the fishing sector goes far beyond the scope of European funding. 
  • is concerned about the current limitations of the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), which cannot be used to implement this transition, as recognised by the Commission itself. 
  • points out that the average age of the European fleet is 31.5 years, and calls on the European Commission to create an emergency fund that would speed up decarbonisation. 
  • notes that any energy source change will require new vessels designed in a completely new way, with a higher on-board capacity (gross tonnage) to accommodate new machinery. 
  • 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.
  • asks that the EU refrain from introducing taxes on fuel (diesel) used for fishing operations until new propulsion technologies are commercially available and the legislative framework allows the modernisation, installation and use of such technologies.