EU Parliament and Council reach provisional agreement on EU fisheries control system

9 JUNE 2023

On 31 May, the EU’s Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on the Fisheries Control Regulation, which sees a raft of updates measures under the Common Fisheries Policy, particularly regarding the monitoring fisheries activities and the traceability of fish products.

According to the Council press release, the agreement updates around 70% of the existing rules for controlling fishing vessels with the aim of making EU fishing more sustainable. The main changes include:

·A digital system (known as “CATCH”) will be introduced in the context of the catch certification scheme for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The aim is to ensure that catch certificates and other related documents will be managed in a single, EU-wide digital environment, thus improving the ability of authorities to detect products stemming from IUU fishing.

·Non-EU countries will be able to produce and validate catch certificates directly in the CATCH digital environment. For fishery products imported into the EU, importers will also need to submit catch certificates via CATCH.

·vessel monitoring systems (VMS) and electronic recording: to ensure compliance with the CFP, all fishing vessels will be tracked via a VMS (for certain smaller vessels, these rules will apply as of 2029) and will be required to record their catches via electronic means

·recreational fisheries: recreational fishers catching specific species will need to undergo registration and to record and report their catches via an electronic system

·landing obligation: remote electronic monitoring tools will be used to ensure that unwanted catches are brought to shore

·revision of the sanctioning system: minimum levels of administrative financial penalties will be set for serious infringements of the CFP rules, as an alternative to criminal sanctions; a list of common criteria for some of the listed serious infringements will be agreed at EU level

·improved traceability along the supply chain: it will be easier to trace fresh fishery and aquaculture products (including processed products following a Commission study and a five-year transition phase)

Member states’ ambassadors to the EU will be asked to approve the agreement reached with the Parliament at an upcoming meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee. The text of the regulation will then undergo legal and linguistic revision before being adopted by ministers at a forthcoming Council meeting.

More information:

Contact: Anna Boulova and Lebo Mofolo,