The paper presents a critical analysis of the fisheries and aquaculture sector on the eve of a new reform anticipated by the Green Paper of 2009 and by the Commission Communication on the Reform of the Common Fishery Policy (CFP) of 2011. The paper uses the main statistical sources available to analyse the evolution of production and trade at worldwide, European and Italian level. The time series used covers the period from 1990 to 2009. Particular attention is devoted to the Ital- ian situation, evaluating the trade performance in Europe and also considering the evolution of the structural characteristics of the Italian fleet, catches and revenues by species, categories and different systems of fisheries. With a highly fragmented structure of its production capacity and a gradual decline in catches, in recent years, the fishing industry has seen a decline of about 20% in revenues. However, the fisheries sector continues to play an important role in Italy both in the maintenance of the social fabric and in terms of the conservation and enhancement of cultural identities. Finally, the paper develops a brief summary of legislative actions that have characterized the CFP until the recent reform proposal.