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European Year of Skills

Catching the Potential: Navigating Sustainable Fisheries with Skills and Social Dialogue

In an ever-changing world, the role of a fisher has also changed significantly over the last decades. Today, fishers have to navigate increasing costs, rising ocean temperatures, plastic pollution, competition from farmed fish, and a growing demand for sustainable seafood. Adjusting to this change is difficult, which is where the EU-funded project "Catching the Potential" comes in, showing the critical role of social partners and social dialogue in driving effective and balanced change management.

Catching the potential picture

The project started in 2019 and will run until January 2024. It set out on a three-fold journey: 

1. Networking: The first step was to establish a fisheries educators’ network with representation from 10 countries. The goal was to work together to implement sustainable fisheries training for fishers in the EU, based on the triple “P” approach – the simultaneous pursuit of environmental quality (planet), social equality and acceptance (people) and economic prosperity (profit). 

2. Training: 14 pilot trainings took place in seven countries and regions - France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Spain, and the Azores. The project led to the production of seven packages of training material on sustainable fisheries training, adjusted to the local circumstances. The training addressed marine ecology and the role of fishing in the marine ecosystem. It provided an understanding of issues such as fish stock assessment, marine litter, climate change, certification schemes, cooperation within the fish supply chain, as well as social sustainability topics such as fair wages and a safe working environment. By 2023, more than 300 fishers had been trained, along with 20 local trainers that will be able to conduct the training after the project.  

3. Standardization: "Catching the Potential" sought to establish a European standard for sustainable fisheries training. This standard had to be adaptable to local and regional contexts while also ensuring consistent competence requirements for fishers. The project also promoted for the inclusion of elements of sustainable fisheries in the revised STCW-F convention, which is the International Maritime Organization’s standard on training, certification and watchkeeping of all fishing vessel personnel. 

Nilton Filipe Batista Nunes is an 18-year-old student at Escola do Mar dos Açores who took part in the pilot training in Horta, Azores. His father, a commercial fisher, has always been his role model when it comes to fishing respectfully. However, the training managed to expand his knowledge of the matter: “I enjoyed learning about my role as a fisher, that it is not limited to catching fish. Some things, like solid waste, were familiar to me, but others, like fisheries management, were new. The game ‘Who’s the Best Fisher’, for instance, was interesting because it showed that making conscious decisions pays off in the long run. I am very curious to continue learning about sustainability”. 


The project consortium includes ten partners: ProSea Marine Education, social partners in the fishing sector (Europêche & PFA), and education and training providers (CEFCM-France, Novikontas-Latvia, BBZ-Germany, Enaleia-Greece, BIM-Ireland, CETMAR-Spain and DRP-Azores, Portugal). It benefited from the contribution of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund of the European Union. 

With the European Year of Skills underway, now is an excellent time to emphasise the importance of acquiring new skills and knowledge for maritime professionals working in an ever-evolving Blue Economy. To learn more about the project and the role played by social partners, you can visit the website. If you are willing to help implement the trainings or bring them to more EU countries, you can reach out directly to ProSea.