On January 9, 2024. New regulations have come into force to improve the system that controls fisheries in the EU. The changes modernize the way fishing activities are controlled, with the aim of preventing overfishing and creating an effective and harmonized system.
The EU’s fisheries control system aims to ensure compliance with the industry’s common policy regulations. It falls under the jurisdiction of member states, which are responsible for checking their fisheries and related activities. It’s the Commission’s job to make sure they fulfill their responsibilities properly.
What are the goals of the EU fisheries control system?
Fisheries control, according to the provisions of the common policy, is based on:
- A global, integrated and collaborative approach;
- cooperation and coordination between member states, the European Commission and the European Fisheries Control Agency;
- cost-effectiveness and proportionality;
- The use of effective control technologies for the availability and quality of fisheries data;
- EU control, inspection and enforcement;
- A risk-based strategy focused on systematic and automated cross-checking of all available data;
- Developing a culture of compliance and cooperation among all operators and fishermen.
Fisheries in the EU – the most important changes
The new rules will ensure a harmonized EU fisheries control system and better protection of marine resources through:
- intensified fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;
- The transition to full digitization, new technologies and modern data management.
Under the new regulations, control of fishing activities is to be completely digitized through the gradual expansion of geolocation and electronic reporting by all fishing vessels, regardless of size, and by making catch recording and reporting mandatory in some recreational fisheries.
The new regulation introduces digital traceability, which will be mandatory throughout the supply chain, enabling a more effective fight against illegal fishing. The system will be mandatory for fresh and frozen fishery and aquaculture products, and will gradually be extended to processed fishery and aquaculture products, such as canned goods, giving consumers more information about the origin of what they consume.
To ensure the effectiveness of the EU’s fisheries control system, particularly with regard to monitoring compliance with the landing obligation, the new regulations also introduce the need to equip certain fishing vessels with remote electronic monitoring (REM) systems. These systems should include closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. According to the regulations, in order to guarantee the right to privacy and protection of personal data, the recording of video footage via CCTV should only be permitted for gear and those parts of vessels where fishery products are boarded, processed and stored, or where discards may occur. Registration activities should be limited to situations where gear is actively operated and where the catch is taken on board and handled by the crew, or where discards may occur.
New regulations for imported fishery products
The use of the CATCH IT tool will be mandatory for imported fishery products. Importers will have to use CATCH starting January 9, 2026. to submit catch certificates for the importation of fishery products into the EU market.
When will the new fisheries control regulations take effect?
The Fisheries Control Regulation, which took effect on Jan. 9, 2024, introduces transitional provisions that give EU fisheries authorities and other stakeholders time to adjust to the new requirements.
Most of the provisions of the introduced regulation will take effect in 2 years, i.e. as of January 10, 2026. Since some regulations and their implementation require specific preparatory work, such as remote electronic monitoring or electronic tracking and recording of catches for the fishing fleet, they will take effect after four years (i.e., January 10, 2028). Regulations on the traceability of processed and preserved fishery and aquaculture products or algae will take effect after five years (i.e. from January 10, 2029). As announced in the coming months and years, the European Commission will adopt the necessary regulations to ensure harmonized implementation of the new rules across the EU.
European Fisheries Control Agency
Monitoring and control of fishing activities under the new regulations is to be carried out by national authorities, but with the support of the European Commission and the European Fisheries Control Agency.
The European Fisheries Control Agency was established in 2005. Its goal is to promote the application of the highest standards of control, inspection and surveillance under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). EFCA pursues this goal by coordinating cooperation between national inspection and control authorities. EFCA also supports the Commission and Member States by educating inspectors and trainers from EU countries to ensure that CFP regulations are properly applied.
We wrote about the new regulations that have been introduced in Poland in the article Fisheries – new regulations take effect in January 2024.