Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has identified a number of targets under the fisheries management relating to the protection of the fisheries resources with the new reform policy. The principal aim of fisheries management under the Common Fisheries Policy is to ensure high long-term fishing yields for all stocks by 2015 where possible, and at the latest by 2020. This is referred to as maximum sustainable yield. Another increasingly important aim is to reduce unwanted catches and wasteful practices to the minimum or avoid them altogether, through the gradual introduction of a landing obligation. Lastly, the new CFP has overhauled its rules and management structure, with regionalisation and more extensive stakeholder consultation.
Fisheries management is based on data and scientific advice, and control measures to ensure that rules are applied fairly to and complied with by all fishermen.
Fisheries management can take the form of input control, output control, or a combination of both. Input controls include rules on access to waters, fishing effort controls and technical measures
Rules on Access to Waters:
As a general rule, fishing vessels registered in the EU fishing fleet register have equal access to all the EU waters and resources that are managed under the CFP. Access to fisheries is normally authorized through a fishing licence.
There are two temporary exceptions to this rule of equal access:
- In the waters up to 12 nautical miles from the coasts of the EU countries access can be limited by the EU country to vessels and fisheries that traditionally fish in those waters from adjacent ports
- In the waters up to 100 nautical miles from the coasts of Europe's outermost regions access can be restricted to vessels registered in the ports of these territories and to vessels that traditionally fish in those waters.
The exceptions expire by end 2022.
Fishing Effort Controls
Fishing effort management is a combination of limitations to the fleet capacity and the amount of time that can be spent at sea by that fleet. Often effort restrictions are applied in addition to the more generally used system of total allowable catches.
Fishing effort restrictions have been introduced in a number of situations: under multiannual plans for the management of a specific stock or group of stocks, and more generally area-based. Examples of fishing effort restrictions can be found in for instance the plan for management of the sole and plaice stocks in the North Sea, and in the rules on fishing in the western waters. Management plans in the Mediterranean are sometimes centered around effort restrictions.
Technical measures are a broad set of rules which govern how, where and when fishermen may fish. They are established for all European sea basins, but they differ considerably from one basin to another, in accordance with the regional conditions.
The measures may include:
- minimum landing sizes and minimum conservation sizes
- specifications for design and use of gears
- minimum mesh sizes for nets
- requirement of selective gears to reduce unwanted catches;
- closed areas and seasons;
- limitations on by-catches;
- measures to minimize the impact of fishing on the marine ecosystem and environment.
Output controls mainly consist of limiting the amount of fish from a particular fishery, in particular through total allowable catches.
Total Allowable Catches (TACs)
The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is a catch limit set for a particular fishery within a certain region, generally for a year or a fishing season. This management tool aims to directly limit the quantity of fish that will be caught by the fishing fleet. Since there is a decline in the fish stocks due to natural reasons or/and fishing activities, self-renewal of the fish stocks is seen as a must. In order to have mature fish for the purpose of renewal of fish stocks, juvenile fish must be left to grow and reproduce. CFP sets, every year, the maximum amount of fish to be caught in a safe manner.
While determining the maximum amount of catch called Total Allowable Catches (TACS), the maximum amount of fish that can be caught from a particular stock at any given time must be fixed. The Commission prepares the proposals, based on scientific advice on the stock status from advisory bodies such as ICES and STECF while determining Total Allowable Catches. TACs are set annually for most stocks (every two years for deep-sea stocks).
Discard ban and the landing obligation
Discarding is the practice of returning unwanted catches to the sea. The CFP reform of 2013 does away with the wasteful practice of discarding through the introduction of a landing obligation. The landing obligation will be introduced gradually, between 2015 and 2019 for all commercial fisheries in European waters and for European vessels fishing in the high seas. By 2019 all species subject to TAC limits and Minimum Conservation Reference Sizes in the Mediterranean will be subject to the landing obligation.
Under the landing obligation all catches have to be kept on board, landed and counted against the quotas. Undersized fish cannot be marketed for human consumption purposes whilst prohibited species cannot be kept on board and must be returned to the sea. The discarding of prohibited species should be recorded in the logbook and forms an important part of the science base for the monitoring of these species.
Since 2015 the landing obligation is being implemented on a gradual basis. Over the last few years, governments, scientific institutions, industry, fishermen and other stakeholders have worked to develop trials and solutions.
Data Collection and Scientific Advice
EU fisheries management relies on data collected, managed and supplied by EU countries. Under the Data Collection Framework, certain data collected from EU countries provide a basis for the works of organizations such as ICES and STECF for scientific advice activities.
Management of fishing capacity - fishing fleet
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.
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 can no longer increase.
European Union is the largest single fisheries market in the world and a net importer of fish and fish products. More than a quarter of the fish caught by European fishing boats are actually taken outside EU waters. 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.
The international dimension of the CFP has gained importance in recent years. There has been an increase in the bilateral/multilateral agreements and in the negotiations with the regional/ international fisheries organisations in order to both provide responsible fishing activities and agree on the management methods of the fisheries resources. International trade on the fish products has also become important for the Union. The existence of a global market in the fish products brings several advantages in terms of various selection and price opportunities for the consumers.
However, in addition to the advantages, this situation carries great risks for the protection of public health and responsible fishing. There is a growing need for more international cooperation in order to prevent these two great risks.
A large part of the European fishing fleet has been fishing either in the international waters or in the waters under the jurisdiction of third countries through the fishing agreements the Union makes with them.
International fisheries relations which have two main components:
- signing fisheries agreements after the claim of exclusive economic zones (EEZS) or fishing zones by the third states and
- participation of the EU (as a member or observer) to the various international conventions aiming rational use of the fish stocks within the high seas.
Union has unique competition in the international relations in terms of fisheries. European Commission, on behalf of the Union, has been negotiating and signing fisheries agreements with the third countries and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).
Bilateral fisheries agreements between the EU and third countries reveal a general framework of the Union fleet to reach third country's waters. The structure of the fisheries agreements vary according to interests of the parties.
With the northern countries which have strong fleet capacity and possibility to benefit from their fish resources, reciprocal agreements have been signed. Both the Union and northern countries have reciprocal rights to fish in the waters of each other. For the other third countries which do not have possibility to utilise their fisheries resources, the EU has been signing fisheries agreements in which the EU gives financial and technical support in exchange for fishing rights. This support is not only granted to the third country's state budget but also given for the areas that may affect the interests of the concerned trading partners such as fishing researches, training for the management of fisheries, assistance for the small-scale fishing.
The EU has 2 types of fishing agreements with non-EU countries as "sustainable fisheries partnership agreements and "northern agreements". Under the sustainable fisheries partnership agreements, the EU gives financial and technical support in exchange for fishing rights, generally with southern partner countries. In these agreements based on tuna fish and mixed fish stocks, the EU fleet gains right to fish in the exclusive economic zones of the non-member countries; in exchange for this right, the non-member countries gain rights to access to the exclusive economic zones of the Member States and take sectoral economic support. These agreements also focus on resource conservation and environmental sustainability, ensuring that all EU vessels are subject to the same rules of control and transparency.
Agreements signed with the northern countries also provide joint management of shared stocks with Norway, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands.
List of Fisheries Agreements Signed with Non-Member Countries (as of 05.04.2018):
|Total contribution from the EU budget per year (€)
|Earmarked for fisheries policy development
|550 000 / 500 000
|275 000 / 250 000 €
|Protocol expired on 31.12.2016
|385 000 / 350 000
|Protocol expired on 23.7.2016
|16 099 978
|2 931 000
|9 200 000
|3 000 000
|Protocol expired on 15.09.2015
|715 000 / 650 000 / 585 000
|357 500/ 325 000/ 292 500
|1 566 250 / 1 487 500
|61 625 000
|4 125 000
|Protocol expired on 24.2.2010
|30 000 000
|14 000 000
|Protocol expired on 31.1.2015
|São Tomé and Principe
|710 000 / 675 000
|Tuna (+ hake component)
|1 808 000 / 1 668 000
5 350 000 (2014)
5 000 000 (2019)
|2 600 000
|Protocol expired on 8.10.2012
|2006 - 2012
|2009 - 2015
The law which applies to the high seas is founded on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which entered into force in 1994. The Union has an active role in the development of international agreements such as UNCLOS. These agreements aim to create a legal order for the seas and oceans; to provide fair and efficient utilization of the resources for peaceful purposes of ocean and sea and to promote the protection of living resources and the protection and preservation of the marine environment. An important element of UNCLOS was the undertaking by all signatory countries to promote sustainable fishing.
Since the adoption of UNCLOS, a number of agreements have been developed to deal specifically with how to bring about sustainable fishing on the high seas. One of them is the Agreement on straddling stocks and highly migratory fish stocks (1995).
Also, under the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Agreement on compliance with conservation and management measures (1993) and Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (1995) have been adopted. The EU is also party to the Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing adopted at the session of 36 of the FAO Conference in November 22, 2009 and so far signed by 23 countries. The agreement was prepared to provide a binding legal framework to ensure the prevention of the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing which is the one of the most important issues in the international fisheries agenda. With the agreement it is intended to take measures in this area through cooperation at international level. In this context, effective measures by port states are demanded to be taken and several sanctions are foreseen such as non-acceptance of the vessels which are involved in illegal fishing activities to the ports.
The EU has also entered other international agreements and conventions that have a bearing on fisheries. Among them is the commitment made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 to reduce fishing to the level which gives the highest yield in the long run (maximum sustainable yield) by 2015 and to use an ecosystem approach in fisheries management. The EU is party to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Relations with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs):
European Union wants to play an active role in the provision of sustainable fisheries. Therefore, it applied for several regional fisheries organisations. The EU is the full member of some of these organisations and participating to the others as an observer.
Regional fisheries organisations are established through the international conventions. These organisations present a framework on the management methods of the fish resources to the government representatives who met to negotiate an agreement on this issue. The main purpose of these organisations is to strengthen regional cooperation in order to provide sustainable exploitation and preservation of fisheries resources in the important seas.
Management measures of regional organisations consist of:
- Determination of maximum catch levels or Total Allowable Catches (TACs) in the fisheries regions concerned (TACs can be divided among the members of the organisation) ,
- Closure of fishing in certain regions throughout the year or during a certain time period,
- Regulation or prohibition of certain fishing gears and methods,
- Formation of common control or implementation plans giving authorisation to the control expert of parties in order to inspect the vessels of each other,
The Union demands to promote sustainable fisheries. Therefore, it has applied for the membership of various regional fisheries organisations.
List of the organisations the EU is a member/party:
- Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO),
- Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO),
- Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC),
- Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC),
- North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO),
- Convention on Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR),
- International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT),
- General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM),
- Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD),
- Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC),
- World Trade Organisation (WTO),
The Commission represents the EU in six tuna and 11 non-tuna regional fisheries management organisations in which the EU fleet work or may benefit from working together in the future.
- 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 Program (AIDCP)
- Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT)
- Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC)
- Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
- North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO)
- South-East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO)
- South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA)
- South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (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)
- Western Central Atlantic Fisheries Commission (WECAFC)
- Fisheries Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF)
MARKET AND TRADE POLICY
The Common Organisation of the Markets, managing the market in fishery and aquaculture products, is one of the main pillars of the Common Fisheries Policy. The five main components are:
- Professional Organisations
- Consumer Information
- Marketing Standards
- Market Intelligence
- Competition Rules
Producer organisations are defined as professional organisations; moreover, in addition to the rules on fisheries producer organisations, the establishment and recognition of aquaculture producer organisations and rules that will be implemented by them are also clarified. The reason for the definition of rules on aquaculture producer organisations is the inadequacy of fisheries products when it is compared with the quantity of consumption of total population and EU's dependence on importation of fish products to meet the demand. For the provision of import-export balance, there is a need for the increase in aquaculture production. For the aquaculture production to be increased aquaculture producer organisations should be strengthened and they should dominate the market.
Within the Regulation No 1379/2013 (EU), the aims of the producer organisations and the measures that will be taken by them to apply these aims are laid down in detail.
Fisheries producer organisations should pursue the following objectives in order to develop and implement technical measures within the scope of last reform:
- Avoiding and reducing as far as possible unwanted catches of commercial stocks and, where necessary, making the best use of such catches, without creating a market for those that are below the minimum conservation reference size,
- Promoting the viable and sustainable fishing activities of their members in full compliance with the conservation policy,
- Contributing to the elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing,
- Contributing to the traceability of fishery products and access to clear and comprehensive information for consumers
Aquaculture producer organisations should pursue the following objectives:
- Promoting the sustainable aquaculture activities of their members,
- Ascertaining that the activities of their members are consistent with the national strategic plans,
- Endeavouring to ensure that aquaculture feed products of fishery origin come from fisheries that are sustainably managed.
In addition to this, within the Regulation No 1379/2013 (EU), producer organisations may make use of the following measures:
- promoting vocational training and cooperation programmes to encourage young people to enter the sector;
- reducing the environmental impact of fishing, including through measures to improve the selectivity of fishing gears;
- promoting the use of information and communication technology to improve marketing and prices;
- facilitating consumer access to information on fishery and aquaculture products;
- collecting information on the marketed products, including economic information on first sales, and on production forecasts;
Through these measures, the EU aims that producer organisations:
- Make market research to prevent over exploitation and to provide sustainability,
- Raise awareness of their members through training programmes,
- Inform consumers about the nutritional value and the importance of non-commercial species.
As is known, the small-scale fishing has an important place in the EU. It is expected from the producer organisations that they ensure the sufficient participation and high representation of the small-scale fishermen within the organisation.
Within the European Union, fisheries and aquaculture producer organisations should prepare an annual plan called Production and Marketing Plan on behalf of their members. Commission Recommendation of 3 March 2014 lays down the details of this plan. According to this Recommendation, Production and Marketing Plan should include:
- A production programme for caught or farmed species;
- A marketing strategy to match the quantity, quality and presentation of supply to market requirements;
- Measures to be taken by the producer organisation in order to contribute to the objectives laid down in regulation no. 1379/2013 (EU)
- Special anticipatory measures to adjust the supply of species which habitually present marketing difficulties during the year;
- Penalties applicable to members who infringe decisions adopted to implement the plan concerned.
Financial supports given by the EU to the producer organisations have been decreased after the last reform process. Price and intervention mechanism which were constituted to support producer organisations have been modified through the new Regulation (1379/2013). The previous intervention system caused public spending to be used in a manner which caused to the overexploitation. Therefore, this mechanism was found unsustainable. Therefore, previous two mechanisms – guide price and withdrawal price – were removed, and in place of these, trigger price which would be used by the producer organisation to benefit from the storage mechanism has been introduced.
The trigger price shall not exceed 80 % of the weighted average price recorded for the product in question in the area of activity of the producer organisation concerned during the three years immediately preceding the year for which the trigger price is fixed. Member States determine the trigger prices to be applied by those producer organisations. Storage mechanism will allow producer organisations to buy up fisheries products when prices fall under a trigger price, and store the products for placing on the market at a later stage. Through this way, the system will foster market stability.
The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund will support following activities under the Common Market Organisation:
- Production and Marketing Plan
- Storage Mechanism
- Marketing Measures:
- creating producer organisations, associations of producer organisations or inter-branch organisations to be recognised
- finding new markets and improving the conditions for the placing on the market of fishery and aquaculture products
promoting the quality and the value added of the products.
The storage mechanism will end by 31 December 2018, and then, there will not be any financial support provided to the producer organisation under the price and intervention mechanism. Moreover, it is the Member States' own preference to put storage mechanism into effect in their country till 2019
Click here to see the infographic on the CMO.