1st Edition

Fishing Europe's Troubled Waters Fifty Years of Fisheries Policy

By David Symes Copyright 2023
    188 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Spanning the last 50 years of fisheries policy in Europe, this book is the parting contribution and career-spanning reflection from one of Europe’s most renowned social scientists working in the field of fisheries management and policy.

    The last 50 years have without doubt been the most turbulent years in the history of North Atlantic fisheries – a turbulence brought about by the actions of fishers, scientists and above all politicians. It is a period of change that sees a radical redrawing of the political geography of fisheries, globalisation of trade, the development of fisheries management towards increasingly restrictive regulation, and declining fish stocks. The book explains why the bold but deeply flawed Common Fisheries Policy persistently failed to deliver its basic goal of sustainable fisheries. The spotlight falls on the monolithic, highly centralised, command and control nature of the Policy that strives to apply a universal ‘one size fits all’ approach, thus creating a governing system wholly unsuited to the system to be governed, out of kilter with preferred models of governance, and disconnected from the practical realities of fishing as a livelihood in a challenging environment. A final section on Brexit focuses on its halting progress from concept to reality, the implications for the fisheries sector and the fateful final negotiations with the EU over the fisheries question. Seeking to explain why the anticipated benefits for the UK industry failed to materialise, attention is drawn to the misplaced political hubris over regaining ‘sovereignty’ in areas like the North Sea.

    This book will be essential reading for students, scholars, professionals and policymakers working on fisheries, marine governance, natural resource management, environmental policy and the European Project.

    1. Introduction Part I Seismic change 2. Loss of the distant water fishing grounds 3. The making of the Common Fisheries Policy 4. Contextual change: 1970–2020 Part II The Common Fisheries Policy 5. The decades of missed opportunity: 1983–2002 6. Altering course: 2003–2012 7. A radical agenda meets institutional inertia: 2013–2020 Part III A seismic aftershock: Brexit 8. Brexit and its implications for fisheries 9. 2020: getting Brexit done? 10. Beyond Brexit: an uncertain future 11. Final reflections (unfinished)


    David Symes, Reader Emeritus in Geography at the University of Hull, was one of Europe’s most renowned social scientists working in the field of fisheries management, rural development and policy. During his academic career, which spanned seven decades, he generated a prolific volume of research and had a major impact on fisheries policy and the formation of a European fisheries social science community.

    "David Symes was one of the shrewdest analysts of fisheries in Europe in his generation. This book shows he had his finger on the pulse of fisheries management in a way that no other commentator can match, and his comprehensive grasp of the complexities of fisheries policy makes his writings authoritative in speaking truth to power." 

    Professor Tim GrayNewcastle University, UK

    "Fishing Europe's Troubled Waters is a fundamental analysis of circumstances and long-term changes in European and UK fisheries policy. This book encapsulates David Symes’ outstanding legacy and is a treasure for all interested in the social and governance of fisheries."

    Pekka Salmi, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Finland

    "Fishing Europe's Troubled Waters is an outstanding book; enriching our understanding of the socio-political dimension of fisheries governance and the importance hereof. Presenting a fantastic collection of thoughtful reflections of failures and challenges for fisheries governance on coastal community development based on five decades of research on North Atlantic fisheries and fisheries policy."

    Professor Jesper Raakjær, Aalborg University, Denmark

    "The work is a fine epitaph to a man who spent a lifetime reflecting on European fisheries and had an encyclopedic grasp of the subject. His approach to fisheries policy was entirely original, even idiosyncratic, not informed by allegiance to any school of thought...Symes was not afraid of criticizing government policy makers, fisheries man­agers, and even fishers when he came across what he deemed their shortcomings. One of his great gifts was to see beyond the detail of everyday policy decisions to the wide sweep of trends evolving in fisheries gover­nance…This is a memorable book, essential reading for anyone who wishes to under­stand the EU’s CFP and Britain’s tortured relationship with it."

    Tim Gray, Reviews in Fisheries Science & Aquaculture, June 2023

    “This book constitutes a landmark study of the origins, development, and implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)… The study is a masterpiece in the treatment of the topic, with not only a very detailed account of every aspect of the CFP, but also a penetrating analysis of the factors involved in its development, implementation and success or otherwise of the outcomes of the first fifty years.”

    Hance Smith, Marine Policy 155 (2023)