EU fishing fleet still shrinking
The European Union fishing fleet shrunk 5.8 percent from 2005 to 2008, according to new Eurostat figures. Last year, the fleet totaled 86,587 vessels and harvested 1.87 million metric tons of seafood, compared to 88,467 vessels and 2.02 million metric tons of fish in 2005.
The fleet contracted 12.4 percent from 2000 and 2005. This is despite the fact that the EU added a dozen new member nations, including the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in 2004 and 2007.
From 2005 to 2008, the number of vessels fell particularly sharply in Malta (19.1 percent), Lithuania (17.5 percent), Belgium (16.7 percent), Spain (16.6 percent), Poland (14.5 percent), Germany (13.7 percent) and Denmark (11.4 percent). However, the number of vessel numbers increased considerably in Ireland (42.6 percent) and Cyprus (32.4 percent).
Greece has the EU’s largest fishing fleet, with over 17,353 vessels in 2008. Greece is followed by Italy (13,683 vessels), Spain (11,420 vessels), Portugal (8,585 vessels) and France (7,941 vessels). Collectively, Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and France represent more than two-thirds of the EU fleet.