Countries with fishing interests in a given geographical area form specific RFMOs. The organisations are open both to countries in the region (‘coastal states’) and countries that have interests in those fisheries (‘distant water fishing nations’).
While some RFMOs have a purely advisory role, most have management powers to set catch and fishing effort limits, technical measures, and control obligations.
Today, RFMOs cover the majority of the world’s seas. They can broadly be divided into RFMOs focussing only on the management of highly migratory fish stocks, notably tuna, (‘tuna-RFMOs’) and RFMOs that manage other fish stocks (i.e. pelagic or demersal) in a more specific area.
The EU, represented by the Commission, plays an active role in 5 tuna-RFMOs and 11 non-tuna RFMOs. This makes the EU one of the most prominent actors in RFMOs worldwide.
RFMOs managing highly-migratory species, mainly tuna
- International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT)
- Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)
- Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC)
- Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC)
- Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Programme (AIDCP) (sister organisation to IATTC)
- Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)
RFMOs managing fish stocks by geographical area
- North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)
- Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
- North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO)
- South-East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO)
- Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA)
- South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO)
- Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR)
- General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)
- Convention on the Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea (CCBSP)
RFMOs with a purely advisory status
The EU also participates in two RFMOs which have a purely advisory status:
RFMOs (European Atlas of the Seas)