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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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Bilateral agreements with countries outside the EU

The EU has 2 types of fishing agreements with non-EU countries:

  • fisheries partnership agreements – the EU gives financial and technical support in exchange for fishing rights, generally with southern partner countries. 
  • the "northern agreements" – joint management of shared stocks with Norway, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands.

Fisheries partnership agreements

The EU has concluded fisheries agreements with many countries outside the EU. Here, fishing in Mauritania.

Sustainable fisheries agreements with non-EU countries are negotiated and concluded by the Commission on behalf of the EU. They are intended to allow EU vessels to fish for surplus stocks in that country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ), in a legally regulated environment.

Tuna agreements – allow EU vessels to pursue migrating tuna stocks as they move along the shores of Africa and through the Indian Ocean.

Mixed agreements – provide access to a wide range of fish stocks in the partner country's exclusive economic zone.

These agreements also focus on resource conservation and environmental sustainability, ensuring that all EU vessels are subject to the same rules of control and transparency.

In return, the EU pays the partner countries a financial contribution composed of 2 distinct parts:

  • access rights to the EEZ
  • "sectoral" financial support

The sectoral support aims to promote sustainable fisheries development in the partner countries, by strengthening their administrative and scientific capacity through a focus on sustainable fisheries management, monitoring, control and surveillance.

Impact of EU policy reform on the agreements

Part of the reform of EU fisheries policy is intended to:

  • improve the scientific knowledge underlying the fishing rights granted under the agreements and provide more information about the overall fishing effort deployed in partner country waters
  • strengthen the governance of the agreements, including a clause to protect human rights and gradually increase EU ship-owners' contribution to the access costs.
  • better promote sustainable fishing in the partner country waters by making EU sectoral support more targeted and subject to regular monitoring.

Northern agreements

EU fishing activities in the North Sea and north-east Atlantic are closely linked to those of our neighbours – Norway, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands. With many of the targeted stocks shared across boundaries, it makes good sense for all 4 parties to coordinate their activities, especially as the different fleets aren’t necessarily interested in the same stocks.

So many of the stocks concerned are jointly managed, and quotas are exchanged to ensure they’re not wasted. Some of these stocks are managed through the intergovernmental North-East Atlantic Fisheries Convention set up to manage fish stocks in the region, while others are managed through agreements between the coastal states.

These agreements are extremely important to a large section of the EU fleet, especially the agreement with Norway, which covers quotas worth over €2bn.

List of fisheries agreements

CountryExpiry dateTypeTotal contribution from the EU budget per yearEarmarked for fisheries policy development

Cape Verde 22.12.2018 Tuna 550 000 €/ 500 000 € 275 000 €/ 250 000 €
Comoros 31.12.2016 Tuna 600 000 € 300 000 €
Côte d'Ivoire 30.6.2018 Tuna 680 000 € 257 500 €
Gabon 23.7.2016  Tuna 1 350 000 €  450 000 €
Greenland 31.12.2015 Mixed 17 847 244 € 2 743 041 €
Guinea- Bissau 23.11.2017 Mixed   9 200 000 € 3 000 000 € 
Kiribati 15.9.2015 Tuna 1 325 000 € 350 000 €
Madagascar 31.12.2018 Tuna 1 566 250/
1 487 500 €
700 000 €
Mauritania Protocol expired on 15 December 2014
Mauritius 27.1.2017 Tuna 660 000 €  302 500 € 
Micronesia   No protocol in force since 25.2.2010
Morocco 27.02.2015 Mixed 30 million € 14 million €
Mozambique 31.01.2015 Tuna 980 000 € 460 000 €
São Tomé and Principe 22.5.2018 Tuna 710 000/
675 000 €
325 000 €
Senegal 19.11.2019 Tuna (+ hake component)  1 808 000/
1 668 000 € 
750 000 €
Seychelles 17.1.2020 Tuna

5 350 000 € in 2014
To 5 000 000 in 2019

2 600 000 €
Solomon Islands No protocol in force since 9.10.2012

Northern agreements

Country Period
Faeroe Islands 2006 - 2012
Iceland 2009 - 2015
Norway 2009 - 2015