This Bio-Economic Model of European Fleets (BEMEF) was developed by the New Economics Foundation with support from academic, industry, governmental and non-governmental bodies across Europe.

At the New Economics Foundation we been producing research on the socio-economic impacts of fish stock restoration since 2010. Our research has demonstrated that the sustainable management of fish, like all natural resources, brings significant economic benefits. Estimates of these benefits can often vary depending on what aspects of fisheries are modelled, what assumptions are used and what outcomes are targeted. It is in this context that a bio-economic model took shape.

The first objective of BEMEF is to illustrate the potential of ending overfishing and reaching the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) for all European fish stocks under quota management. The model can also disaggregate this potential at the country or fleet level which allows for comparison between segments of the EU fishing industry.

The second objective is to contribute to a greater understanding of European fisheries and empower users through accessible design. This will engage more stakeholders interested in fisheries with the process and conclusions of bio-economic modelling. A key component of the model is the dynamic interface where parameters can be adjusted, scenarios calculated, and trade-offs made visible. Throughout the model the most recent and best available data is used. While the bulk of the model operates offline (available for download here) this online interface has been developed to make fisheries bio-economic modelling more accessible for the diverse range of people interested in the future of our fish stocks and the livelihoods of coastal communities.

The third objective of the model is to take a lead and open up the “black box” of economic modelling. This has been accomplished through the use of introductory notes, guidance notes embedded in the user interface, documentation notes and adjustable parameters so that specific scenarios can be tested. It has become increasingly clear that many prominent economic models have an unrealistic reliance on unstated or unknown assumptions whereas the best models have a clear conscience about the need to make assumptions and do so explicitly and justifiably. We hope that these different features of BEMEF can add to best practice in economic modelling and will be used wherever possible by analysts working on EU fisheries and in other areas.

The fourth and final objective of the BEMEF project is to start new conversations about fisheries management. We also hope that this model can start conversations in fisheries management about what outcomes we are trying to achieve in EU waters. How countries allocate their quota is one of these conversations that to date has mainly been held by NGOs and thinktanks ( Grieve, 2009; Crilly & Esteban, 2013; Newman, 2014) but rarely in academic institutions or in the political process itself. To date no economic analysis on the impacts of reallocating quota has been carried out but BEMEF has already been noted for its potential use in this area (Casey, 2014).

EU Fisheries

Overview of EU Fisheries
Fish are a renewable resource: if well managed they can provide endless benefits to society in the form of food, revenue and jobs. Unfortunately, according to the most recent analysis 41% of assessed EU stocks are now overfished, costing billions in lost revenue and jobs with every passing year while also impacting marine ecosystems.

Common Fisheries Policy
The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) was first introduced in the 1970s and has gone through successive reforms. In 2009, the European Commission launched a wide-ranging public debate on the way EU fisheries were managed culminating with the passing of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy in December, 2013. This policy) manages the overarching governance of the fishing activity in EU waters. Much of the policy is relevant to this model, but in particular the goal to rebuild fish stocks to a state of maximum sustainable yield by 2015 and by 2020 at the latest.

Maximum Sustainable Yield
Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is the largest catch that can be taken from a fish stock over an indefinite period. To achieve this level of catch, a necessary precondition is that the fish stock itself reaches a size that can support MSY. This stock level is the biomass maximum sustainable yield (BMSY). The rate of catch, or the fishing mortality maximum sustainable yield (FMSY) is simply the annual catch (MSY) divided by the population size (BMSY). These three distinct concepts form the basis of sustainable fisheries management.

Fish stocks
The major commercial species managed under the CFP and quota management are: anchovy, anglerfish, atlantic salmon, blue whiting, cod, dab, haddock, hake, herring, horse mackerel, lemon sole, mackerel, megrims, northern prawn, norway lobster, norway pout, plaice, pollack, saithe, sandeel, skates and rays, sole, sprat, turbot, whiting, blue ling, bluefin tuna, boarfish, greenland halibut, ling, redfish, roundnose grenadier, spiny dogfish, swordfish, tusk. For this bio-economic model, only the first 25 stocks are analysed due to data issues. While all 150 fish stocks from 25 species are aggregated for visualisation in this online model version, individual stock effects can be analysed in the full offline model for download. Read more about the methodology in the documentation section.

Useful links for more information

Common Fisheries Policy (pdf)
Provides the full text of the reformed Common Fisheries policy, passed in December, 2013 and which came into effect January 1, 2014.

Total allowable catches (link)
Provides the total allowable catches by species and for each country for 2015 and for previous years.

Communication from the commission to the European Parliament and the council concerning a consultation on Fishing Opportunities for 2015 under the Common Fisheries Policy (pdf)
Provides detail on of the status of fish stocks as well as historical trends.

ICES advice by stock (link)
Provides information on the biological side of fish stocks and links to stock assessments.

2014 Annual Economic Report on the EU fishing Fleet (pdf)
Provides the most comprehensive and standardised information on the economic performance of EU fishing fleets.

Facts and Figures on the Common Fisheries Policy (pdf)
Provides an overview of the many dimensions of the CFP with some key statistics.

Interactive map of European marine geography and fishing activity (link)
Provides map layers including fishing fleet locations, employment, quotas by region, aquaculture production, as well as information on tourism, transports and other marine industries.

NEF’s work on fisheries (link)
Provides an overview to the economic research NEF has published on EU fisheries.

Project funding

The development of BEMEF was made possible thanks to the support of:




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