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Oceans and fisheries
News article22 July 2021Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries3 min read

A new take on an old trade: EU helps fishers to develop their competences together with “Catching The Potential” project

Being a fisher is an ancient job: the first traces of fishing as a human activity date back to 40 000 years ago. Yet, the trade has steadily evolved, and commercial fishing of today is a very different proposition even from 20 years ago.

Catching The Potential project

Technology has changed, costs of enterprise has increased, the regulations have changed and become more complex, and there is an ever-growing demand for fish that is sustainably and responsibly caught. For those who work in the fishing sector, there is a need to continuously upgrade their competences to continue operating successfully and fully respond to those challenges. In particular, international organisations, such as the EU and FAO, and the fishing sector emphasize the importance of developing competences and knowledge for sustainable fisheries, yet there isn’t yet any widely adopted training standard for fishers on that aspect.

That is where CTP – “Catching the Potential” comes into play. The CTP-project is an EU-supported, cooperative effort of the fishing sector and educators to develop and implement an effective, international standard for sustainable fishing training for fishers. “The fishing sector has changed”, says Tim Haasnoot of ProSea, the project coordination firm, “its education system has to change with it to enhance the capacity of fishers”.

Sustainable fishing training addresses marine ecology and the role of fishing in the marine ecosystem. It provides knowledge and understanding of issues such as the EU’s common fisheries policy, fish stock assessment, maritime spatial planning, marine litter, climate change, certification schemes, collaboration within the fish supply chain, and enhanced communication skills. It aims to supply fishers with the competences and knowledge to play their role in a changing and more sustainable fishery sector.

CTP’s project is based on three phases: Network, Training, Standard.

The Network phase establishes an international network of fishing academies, training institutes and sector representatives to exchange/build experience on sustainability education. At present, the project consortium has 10 partners bringing together expertise on sustainable fishing training (ProSea, which is coordinating the project), fishing sector (Europêche & PFA) and education/training of fishers (CEFCM-France, Novikontas-Latvia, BBZ-Germany, Enaleia-Greece, BIM-Ireland, Cetmar-Spain and DRAM-Azores, Portugal).

A desk study gathers information on best practices in sustainability training of fishers, and the Training phase sees the exchange of new pedagogical/training methods and develops country/region specific training programs and content in seven countries and outermost regions: France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Spain and the Azores. This process provides input for the development of an EU-course standard for sustainable fisheries training, taking into account that the fishing sector in every EU country is different and unique in many aspects. Sustainable fisheries training for fishers in different countries requires that the course is adjusted to the specific situation for that country or region, and adjusted to education level, language, culture, specifics of the fishing sector and the local environment: therefore country specific trainings depend very much on the co-operation with local partners and authorities. The training comprises of a wide variety of teaching methods, including interactive lectures, videos, animations, workshops, group assignments, games, quizzes and presentations.

Ultimately, a European Standard is developed for adequate and uniform competence requirements for sustainable fisheries training, which is consistent but also offers sufficient room for adaptation to the local/regional circumstances in which fishers operate. The project includes a strategy to incorporate this standard into international policy and start implementation activities.

The CTP project is designed to have a lasting, growing impact. The 14 dedicated pilot courses will directly benefit at least 300 students, 20 teachers and their institutes in the seven countries. An accepted, international standard would change education of all fishers in Europe and benefit the fishing sector and the marine environment in general.

Did you like this story?

Then also check out the July edition of Euronews Ocean episode “Working conditions in fisheries and aquaculture”

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Publication date
22 July 2021
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries