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Oceans and fisheries

Fishing outside the EU

More than 20% of the fish caught by European fishing vessels are actually taken outside EU waters.

On average, around 10% of EU catches  (but much more in the case of tuna species) are made under fisheries agreements with countries outside the EU, while another 10% are taken on the high seas, mainly in regions under the care of regional fisheries management organisations.

As 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).

Fishing authorisations

All the "external" fishing activities of EU vessels, in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of third countries whether 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 granted under predefined conditions (see Regulation on the sustainable management of external fishing fleets below) and have to be monitored constantly to check those conditions. Even outside EU waters, EU vessels must continue to follow EU control rules.

Lists of authorisations

EU vessels authorised to fish in external waters (downloadable excel file updated weekly).


Read our latest news on fishing outside the EU.