Management of fishing capacity serves the aim of a stable and enduring balance between the fishing capacity of the fleets and the fishing opportunities over time.
EU countries are obliged to report annually on this balance, using the guidelines prepared by the European Commission. For fleet segments with overcapacity the member state has to take measures under an action plan, to achieve the balance, for instance through publicly funded decommissioning of vessels. When a member state fails to report or does not implement the action plan, this may lead to proportionate suspension or interruption of the relevant EU funding.
For each EU country a fishing fleet capacity ceiling is established, in kilowatts (kW) and gross tonnage (gt). New fishing vessels may enter the fleet only after the same fleet capacity (in kW and gt) is removed from the fleet. Through this ‘entry-exit’ system Europe’s fleet can no longer increase.
The Commission maintains an EU fleet register with the necessary vessel information, which it receives periodically from the member states.