Harmonising EU rules on permits to fish outside EU waters

Date: December 15, 2017

Source & author: European Parliament

A new law to streamline EU authorisations for EU boats to fish outside EU waters and non-EU ones to fish within them was adopted on Tuesday.

The new regime  will replace the current ‘Fishing Authorisations Regulation’ 1006/2008 by setting out strict, transparent and harmonised rules for issuing and managing EU authorisations for EU vessels working outside EU waters and for foreign ones working within them.

Fishing authorisations

Every EU vessel fishing outside EU waters would be required to obtain an authorisation from its flag member state, based on a set of common eligibility criteria which will include inter alia:

  • administrative information on the vessel and the master
  • a unique vessel identification number by International Maritime Organisation (IMO) where this is required by Union legislation
  • a valid fishing license
  • proof that the vessel is not included in an illegal fishing (IUU) vessel list adopted by a regional fisheries management organisation and/or by the Union

Monitoring authorisations

A flag state will need to monitor  on a regular basis whether the conditions on the basis of which a fishing authorisation has been issued continue to be met during the period of validity of the authorisation.

Reflagging operations

Vessels that during the five years prior to the application for an authorisation have left the Union register and been reflagged in a third country and subsequently returned to the EU register will only receive the authorisation by the flag state if the state has verified the vessel did not engage in IUU activities nor it operated in a non-cooperating country or a third country identified as allowing non-sustainable fishing.

Public register

An EU electronic fishing authorisation register will be set up. Part of this register will be publicly accessible, providing for the first time open access to information on the name and flag of the vessel, IMO number, target species and fishing zone.


The rapporteur, Linnéa ENGSTRÖM (Greens/EFA, SV) said: “We have a very good proposal here. We have defined all the activities outside of sovereign EU waters for the first time and that is a very positive step forward. We have achieved improved sustainability of the fisheries in the High Seas and when it comes to private agreements as well. We want to ensure that there will be food and security and that there will be no overfishing because that leads to more poverty, more flows of refugees.”

Next steps

The new regulation will enter into force on the twentieth day after its publication in the Official Journal of the EU.

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