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26. travnja 2019.


Valorisation of SMall-scale ARTisanal FISHery along the Adriatic coasts, in a context of sustainabilityi

Interreg Italy-Croatia Programe
Priority axis: BLUE INNOVATION

Project duration: January 2019. - Junej 2021.

ERDF: 2.855.895,93 €

Total budget: 3.242.230,50 €

Reference Framework

Artisanal Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are designated by the EU as the segment of the fishing fleet comprising vessels smaller than 12 m LOA, which don’t employ towed gear. SSFs are of paramount importance for the economic development and the livelihood of populations in the whole Mediterranean. At a basin scale, they amount to more than 80% of the entire fishing fleet, totalling about 40.000 vessels. SSF are recognised to have the potential to contribute significantly to food security, economic growth and development and to provide valuable employment opportunities. Moreover, they are strongly anchored in local communities, reflecting often historic links with traditions, culture and values. They are a vibrant and multidimensional sector, where traditional local knowledge and cultural heritage coexist and are embedded in the surrounding environment. Finally, they are important vectors of local knowledge and good practices, and they have a relatively low environmental impact.
Despite their socio-economic importance, small-scale fisheries do not always receive the attention they deserve. SSF operators are often excluded from public policies and decision-making processes; they face socio-economic difficulties and strive to exploit resources that are depleting.
The need to sustain the SSF sector, by engaging its representatives in the planning and decision making processes, by differentiating and expanding its market offer, and by raising awareness among customers has been acknowledged at many levels, due to its potential to positively affect employment, contribute to a more sustainable management of heavily exploited resources, and more generally to help reaching the objectives of blue growth. As far back as 1980 the FAO General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) had called for “the definition of a national strategy indicating in particular the place of artisanal fisheries in management schemes”. More recently, the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (1995) underlined the large contribution given by SSFs to employment, income and food security, and to the sustainable use of fishery resources, and called for states to take action to protect this sector. The Code of Conduct was complemented in 2012 by the SSF Guidelines, which aim at helping address SSFs issues at the national and regional levels with a view to contributing to sustainable development and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Among the SSF Guidelines key guiding principles are consultation and participation; rule of law; transparency; accountability; economic, social and environmental sustainability; holistic and integrated approaches; social responsibility; and social and economic viability.
At the European level, the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is EU’s main instrument for managing European fishing fleets and for conserving fish stocks. The CFP was first introduced in the 1970s and went through successive updates; the most recent, which took effect on 1 January 2014 incorporates the Europe 2020 Strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. It acknowledges that fish stocks in EU waters are generally overexploited, and calls for a management strategy able to ensure the economic viability of the fishing sector, while preserving the ability of marine resources to reproduce over time.


By promoting the sustainability of fish stocks, the new CFP aims to provide EU citizens with a stable, secure and healthy food supply for the long term. It seeks to bring new prosperity to the fishing sector, end dependence on subsidies and create new opportunities for jobs and growth in coastal areas. At the same time, it fosters the industry’s accountability for good stewardship of the seas.
In this framework the CFP bases the management of EU fisheries on multi-annual plans governed by the ecosystem approach and the precautionary principle. Such plans need to rely on sound scientific data on the state of the stocks, in order to give the fishing industry a better and more stable basis for long-term planning and investment, to safeguard resources and maximise long-term yields.
The implementation of CFP principles is characterised by a decentralized, bottom-up approach. It’s decentralised in that EU defines the general framework, the basic principles, the overall targets, the performance indicators and the timeframes, while Member States decide the actual implementing measures, and are required to cooperate at regional level, so to be able to better address local specificities and to effectively manage marine stocks, which are often shared at a cross-border level. It is bottom-up in that it adopts a result based management approach, in which Producer Organisations play a significant role in collective management, monitoring and control.
In this general setting, the policy acknowledges the special role of SSFs, by enabling member states to enforce restrictions in the 12-miles from the coastline fishing zone, reserving it to the activities of SSFs. Moreover, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) aims specifically at empowering SSFs, as a means of creating jobs and supporting local communities while contributing to sustainability, via made on purpose, substantial aids, with a co-funding rate of 75%, as opposed to the 50% rate reserved for industrial fishing. These measures seek to initiate a renovation of the sector, by promoting diversification of the activities and opening new market opportunities.
Focusing on the Adriatic-Ionian basin scale, the EUSAIR strongly addresses fisheries in two of its four pillars. In particular, Pillar 1 – ‘Blue Growth’, topic 1.2 – ‘Fisheries and Aquaculture’, specifically aims at long-term sustainable and responsible fisheries so that fishing activities can continue to provide income for coastal communities, calling for an effective implementation of the principles of the CFP, with the promotion of a bottom-up approach to fisheries management, and a sustainable fishery management based on multiannual plans which must be built on scientifically collected data. On the other hand, Pillar 3 – ‘Environmental quality’, topic 3.1 – ‘The Marine Environment’, names the intense fishing activity as one of the threats to the marine natural capital, and identifies in the Ecosystem based approach the instrument to ensure sustainable use of resources. In this context, the EUSAIR points out that fisheries in the basin are predominantly small-scale, and that they face various challenges linked to global competitiveness and market forces, as well as to environmental objectives. To address these challenges, the strategy identifies as critical the sustainable use of resources and integrated control of fisheries and calls for better cooperation across the Adriatic-Ionian Sea basin as a means to trigger a virtuous process of increasing the competitiveness of the coastal communities depending on fisheries and of widening stakeholders’ involvement.

General objective
Following the rationale expressed above, the general objective of the project is to strengthen the small-scale fisheries role in the GSA 17 in the near future by fostering their potential for innovation within the Blue Growth context. In a sector like the SSF, which has evolved over a very long time in strong connection with local tradition and peculiarities, and in substantial balance with the ecosystem it exploits, the elements of innovation most likely to bring the greatest benefits won’t be found in processes and technologies, but rather in the approach to regulation/management, and in the valorisation of the products, in an effort to boost resilience and sustainability. Taking advantage of the great adaptability and flexibility features of SSFs, the project will promote their assumption as a paradigm for the implementation of integrated management strategies of coastal areas, within the context of an ecosystem-based approach.
The project will develop adopting a transboundary approach, involving all the different actors responsible for the management process of the coastal area, from the policy makers, to a scientific advisory board, to fishermen and other stakeholders (e.g. ONGs). 
Strategies to mitigate risk and utilize opportunities will be identified in cooperation with the stakeholders, and will serve to strengthen the scientific advice, to improve long term production planning and the policy making process.

Specific objectives
SO1. Create an organic body of knowledge about the State-of-the-art of the SSF sector in the area, by networking Research centres, SSF operators and stakeholders 
SO2. Promote sustainable innovation in the SSF sector in the industry and on the market by:

  • Promoting the design and prototyping of novel solutions through co-creation     
  • Creating a shared protocol for the sustainable SSF, and a related logo
  • Exploring new fishery management solutions on-the-field
  • Promoting sales of Sustainable SSF prouce

SO3. Promote sustainable innovation in the SSF sector in management and policy-making by:

  • Creating a cross-border association of SSF operators, capable of devising and enforcing a Resources Management Plan
  • Simplifying regulation


Project partners

  • Friuli-Venezia Giulia Region
  • Emilia-Romagna Region
  • Marche Region
  • Istrska county
  • Primorje-Gorska county
  • Zadarska county
  • University of Venice Cà Foscari
  • Institute for Oceanography and Fisheries, Split
  • Croatian Ministry of Agriculture - Fishing Section