More than a quarter of the fish caught by European fishing boats are actually taken outside EU waters. Around 8 % of EU catches (2004-06) are made under fishing agreements with countries outside the EU, while another 20 % are taken on the high seas, mainly in regions under the care of regional fisheries management organisations.
As a major fishing power, and the largest single market for fisheries products in the world, the EU also plays an important role in promoting better governance through a number of international organisations. This involves developing and implementing policy on fisheries management and – more generally – the Law of the Sea. The EU works closely with its partners from around the globe through the United Nations system, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), as well as in other bodies, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The EU is the largest single fisheries market in the world and a net importer of fish and fish products.
Every three years, the EU establishes autonomous tariff quotas (ATQs) for certain fish and fish products. An ATQ allows a certain quantity of a product to be imported into the EU at a reduced tariff rate – typically, 0%, 4% or 6%. The quotas help increase the supply of the raw materials which the EU processing industry relies on, at times when EU supply is not sufficiently high to meet the demand.