The solution that provides a decent living and a healthy ocean

A problem that affects both people and planet

European fisheries are dominated by industrial fishing and aquaculture, and the consequences for the marine environment and the coastal communities are serious. The environmental damage includes:

  • Over-exploitation of fishery resources exacerbated by unselective fishing gears
  • Pollution of coastal waters from intensive aquaculture plants
  • Massive loss of marine biodiversity and key habitats, weakening the resilience of ocean ecosystems

Small-scale fishing could be part of the solution but 90% of quotas are allocated to large scale interests. Small-scale fishers face unfair competition both for access to fish stocks and to markets. This is resulting in:

  • Low-impact fishing losing viability
  • Lack generational renewal
  • Loss of jobs
  • Coastal communities in decline

The solution provided by LIFE

The cause of this problem is that across Europe fishing is governed by top-down policies that have been developed in response to powerful lobbies driven by short-term profit rather than long-term sustainability.

The solution that LIFE provides is strong and effective representation for small-scale fishers. It aims to achieve this using a bottom-up methodology connecting and empowering fishing communities and giving a voice to their associations through support at local, regional and European level, leading to a systemic change.


Sustainable development

LIFE is working with its members and with policy makers to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’.

Small-scale fishers:

  • Use techniques that minimise impact on fish stocks and marine environment
  • Respect the appropriate seasons for catching different species
  • Value traditional ecological knowledge

LIFE is working to ensure that:

  • Fisheries are managed in a sustainable and inclusive way, taking into account economic, social and environmental factors
  • Fishers become empowered “price makers” enabled to negotiate a fair price for their products that reflects their quality and social value
  • Small-scale fishers engage as equals with other interested parties to formulate local, national and European fishing policies
  • Direct sales and short value chains are developed, helping local economies to thrive and allowing consumers and fishers to have direct and transparent relationships

Strategic development

LIFE was set up in 2015 and by 2020 had laid the foundations of a historic transformation of the European fisheries sector, becoming the first organisation dedicated to provide exclusive representation to European small-scale fishers. LIFE has become a reference at EU level for representing small-scale fishers, demonstrating that with advocacy and capacity-building significant change can be achieved.

LIFE has developed a strategic plan for 2021-25 based on a theory of change validated by all key stakeholders. The goal is that by 2025 Low-impact fishers of Europe will be masters of their future and custodians of the sea. They will be economically independent, contributing to prosperous coastal communities and environmental sustainability of the oceans.