The EU must ensure that all seafood is legal and sustainable

The final negotiations for the EU Fisheries Control Regulation are happening now. EU decision makers must seize this opportunity to modernise the EU fisheries control system and lead globally in sustainable fisheries management while protecting our ocean.  

The EU Fisheries Control Coalition[1] calls on the EU to:

1) Insist on accurate catch reporting

Ensure that all quantities of each fish species caught are recorded, without expanding the margin of tolerance when fishing operators estimate their catches. Sustainable fishing is only possible with accurate and complete fisheries catch data. Expanding the margin of tolerance would endanger critically overfished species, threaten livelihoods and undermine the EU’s international credibility.

2) Make all seafood traceable from boat to plate

Given the EU imports over 65% of its seafood, making all seafood products traceable from point-of-catch to point-of-sale is necessary to combat fraudulent behaviour and to achieve healthy fisheries. To avoid the products of illegal fishing ending up on EU dinner plates, processed and preserved seafood products, such as canned tuna, must not be exempt from robust traceability rules. A digitised system would greatly improve traceability for all seafood products. 

3) Make the installation of remote electronic monitoring (REM) systems mandatory

REM, including CCTV cameras, is a cost-effective, proven technology to gather more reliable data, prevent illegal discarding of unwanted fish and monitor bycatch of endangered, threatened and/or protected species. The EU should mandate REM (including CCTV cameras) on all fishing vessels over 12 metres in length and on those under 12 metres that are deemed either at risk of breaching the rules of the EU IUU Regulation or at risk of bycatching sensitive species.

4) Support vessel tracking for all EU vessels

Vessel tracking systems which transmit vessel locations and electronic catch reporting tools are invaluable for both authorities and stakeholders. They can allow authorities to compile data on the movement of fishing vessels and on the species caught, and can help fishers better locate valuable fishing resources and enhance safety at sea.

5) Create a level playing field by establishing a minimum fine for fisheries offences

Current sanctions are highly variable between Member States, not always dissuasive or proportionate, and lack effectiveness. The European Court of Auditors and the European Commission have both concluded that this undermines the Common Fisheries Policy.  The EU should support the standardisation of enforcement measures and create a level playing field, where fishers are treated fairly and equally across the European Union. This, in turn, would foster a culture of trust and compliance. It is therefore essential to set a minimum fine for fisheries offences.

6) Allow for public information on Fisheries Control Data

The current EU Fisheries Control Regulation expressly prohibits the European Commission from sharing essential information about oversight and legality of fishing operations with members of the public, including with the Members of the European Parliament, unless they obtain Member State approval. Refusal does not require a justification. Article 113 needs to be amended to ensure transparent, comprehensive access to fisheries control data, building trust that fishing in EU waters is legal and sustainable.

By delivering on these key priorities, the EU can ensure that oceans continue to offer powerful solutions to global problems like biodiversity loss and the climate crisis, and can demonstrate leadership in marine sustainability. 

[1]  The Environmental Justice Foundation, Oceana, Seas At Risk, The Nature Conservancy and WWF, together with ClientEarth, The Fisheries Secretariat, Our Fish and Sciaena


  • Joint NGO priorities on the revision of the EU Fisheries Control System – HERE
  • Concise EU Fisheries Control Coalition priorities – HERE

Our key priorities relate to: