Fisheries

Fishing outside the EU

Fishing outside the EU

Fishing outside the EU

More than 20% of Union vessels catches are actually taken outside Union waters. 9.3% of EU catches (2014-18) are made in the EEZ of third countries engaged with the EU in fishing agreements, 2.2% in other third countries, while another 10% are taken in the high seas, mainly tropical tunas in regions managed by tuna regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).

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. It promotes developing and implementing policy on fisheries management and – more generally – the implementation of 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).

All the "external" fishing activities of Union vessels: in the EEZ of third countries wether or not covered by a bilateral agreement (direct authorisations regime), in RFMO areas, in the high seas not under RFMOs, must be specifically authorised by the Flag Member State. Authorisations are to be granted under predefined conditions (see Regulation on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets – “SMEFF Regulation” below) and have to be monitored constantly to check those conditions. Even outside Union waters, EU vessels continue to be submitted to EU Control rules.

Lists of authorisations:

Find here where and when EU vessels are authorised to fish in external waters (downloadable excel file updated weekly).

Trade in fisheries products

The EU is the largest single fisheries market in the world and a net importer of fish and fish products. Those products can enter the EU market at zero or reduced duties from countries with which the EU has free trade agreements in force or from developing countries that benefit from the EU Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

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 sufficient to meet the demand. The current regulation (Regulation EU 2018/1977) covers the period 2019-2020.

The international dimension of the EU Common Fisheries Policy

The international dimension of the EU Common Fisheries Policy

Official documents

Regulation (EU) 2017/2403 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 December 2017 on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets, and repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 1006/2008