The EU is the world’s largest seafood sourcing market, and fishing plays an important economic, social and cultural role in many of its countries. The Common Fisheries Policy provides for the implementation of rules to help maintain healthy fish stocks in EU waters while supporting fishing communities. With this in mind, the EC has begun work on changes to the fisheries control system.

The fisheries control system currently in operation is proving insufficient. A draft of its revision was published by the European Commission in 2018, while consultations between the Council and the European Parliament were launched in July 2021 and concluded with a preliminary agreement. The new fisheries control system is expected to simplify, optimize and adapt to reforms the common policy for the industry, thus improving the availability and reliability of data, harmonizing its implementation in all EU countries, reducing the administrative burden and encouraging the use of technologies such as CCTV, for example.

The agreement provides for an update of approx. 70% of current fishing vessel inspection regulations and is intended to serve more sustainable EU fisheries. Key changes:

  • Vessel monitoring systems and electronic recording; to ensure compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy, all fishing vessels will be located with monitoring systems (some smaller vessels from 2029) and will have to electronically record their catches;
  • recreational fishing; those fishing for certain species will have to register and report their catches in an electronic system;
  • landing obligation; remote electronic monitoring tools will be used to ensure that incidental catches are also brought ashore;
  • Revising the system of penalties; minimum levels of administrative financial penalties for serious violations of the provisions of the Common Fisheries Policy will be an alternative to criminal sanctions; a list of common criteria will be agreed at EU level for some of the listed serious violations;
  • Better traceability in the supply chain: it will be easier to track fresh fishery and aquaculture products (including, after a five-year transition period, processed products).

Fisheries control system – preventing overfishing

The new fisheries control system will introduce provisions for a margin of tolerance (or error) in estimating catch, which will prevent irregularities in reports. Completeness of recreational fishing data will also be improved. Some of the larger vessels will be equipped with an engine power measuring device to ensure that their fishing capacity is kept within the limits stipulated by the Common Fisheries Policy. The new regulations will begin to be applied two to four years after their adoption.

New rules for imported products

The catch certificates will be collected in an EU-wide digital system (CATCH) and will help control authorities detect products from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.