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Fisheries

INSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable FishINSEPARABLE - Eat, Buy and Sell Sustainable Fish

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On July 15, in a seminar on the status of European fish stocks and on the economic situation of European fishing fleets, the Commission will be hearing the views of the fishing sector, scientific organisations, NGOs, national administrations and other members of the public, i.e. all those concerned with the EU's fisheries legislation.
On 29 June 2016 the Council of Fisheries Ministers and the European Parliament reached a political agreement to amend the rules currently in force for cod stocks (a long-term plan, also known as the cod recovery plan, which has been in force since 2008).
The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission today reached an agreement on how to better protect deep-sea fish, sponges and corals while maintaining the viability of the European fishing industry. The agreement brings the EU rules on deep-sea fisheries, which date back to 2003, in line with the sustainability targets enshrined in the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy.

Managing fisheries

The fishing net is controlled by fisheries inspectors.

Fishermen catch fish from fish stocks, which generally have a high, but not unlimited, reproductive capacity. If fishing is not controlled, stocks may collapse or fishing may cease to be economically viable. It is in everyone's interest to have a fisheries management system in place to

  • safeguard stock reproduction for high long-term yield
  • lay the foundations for a profitable industry
  • share out fishing opportunities fairly, and
  • conserve marine resources 

The principal aim of fisheries management under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is to ensure high long-term fishing yields for all stocks by 2015 where possible, and at the latest by 2020. This is referred to as maximum sustainable yield. Another increasingly important aim is to reduce unwanted catches and wasteful practices to the minimum or avoid them altogether, through the gradual introduction of a landing obligation. Lastly, the new CFP has overhauled its rules and management structure, with regionalisation and more extensive stakeholder consultation.

Fisheries management can take the form of input control, output control, or a combination of both. Input controls include:

  • rules on access to waters – to control which vessels have access to which waters and areas
  • fishing effort controls – to limit fishing capacity and vessel usage
  • technical measures - to regulate gear usage and where and when fishermen can fish 

Output controls mainly consist of limiting the amount of fish from a particular fishery, in particular through total allowable catches (see TACs and quotas).

The Common Fisheries Policy increasingly has recourse to multi-annual plans which often combine different management tools.

Fisheries management is based on data and scientific advice, and control measures to ensure that rules are applied fairly to and complied with by all fishermen.

Fisheries conservation measures for the protection of the marine environment

We all depend on healthy ecosystems:  for food, energy, raw materials, air and water. That is why the EU has adopted laws to protect our environment and safeguard biodiversity – whether on land and at sea.

This includes environmental legislation like the Birds and Habitats Directives or the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (or Marine Directive), which aims to create a framework for the sustainable use of our marine waters.

In order to meet their environmental obligations under the three directives, EU countries need to take action on various fronts. This includes addressing different human activities affecting the seas, for instance fisheries.

Since fisheries policy is an exclusive competence of the European Union, it is up to the EU to take any fisheries-related measures.

However, the EU's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) also gives member states the chance to play an active role in designing fisheries conservation measures (so-called regionalisation). Affected countries may submit joint recommendations as regards the fisheries conservation measures deemed necessary to achieve those environmental objectives. The Commission can then adopt legislation on the basis of those recommendations, effectively turning them into binding EU law.

Joint recommendations received so far:

Date    EU countries having direct management interestSea basin
13/03/2015DE, DK, SENorth Sea
13/03/2015DE, DK, SEBaltic Sea
10/06/2016DE, DK, SENorth Se


COMMISSION DELEGATED REGULATION (EU) 2015/1778 of 25 June 2015 establishing fisheries conservation measures to protect reef zones in waters under the sovereignty of Denmark in the Baltic Sea and Kattegat