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 capacity can no longer increase.
The Commission maintains an EU fleet register with the necessary vessel information, which it receives periodically from the Member States. A first release of the new application for the fleet register (FLEET) is available.
EU Fleet register
Fleet capacity reports 2019
Fleet capacity reports 2018
Fleet capacity reports 2017
Fleet capacity reports 2016
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Legislation on structural measures, including fleet (EUR-Lex)
Facts on the EU fishing fleet (Atlas)
On 8 January 2021, the EU and Greenland concluded negotiations for a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and a new Protocol that will strengthen their cooperation in the fisheries sector for the next four years with the possibility of a two-year extension.
The 2020 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet projects that in 2020, the EU fleet remained profitable overall, despite the effects of COVID-19 on the fleet and fish markets. More sustainable fishing and lower fuel costs have helped to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed to a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), applicable on a provisional basis from 1 January 2021.