Belgium: European Council and Parliament update rules to combat EU overfishing

by Eurofish
Fishing vessel in a port

Addressing the problems of misreporting of catches, illegal discards of unwanted catches, and other activities that hinder efforts to achieve sustainable fishing levels, the European Council and the European Parliament have reached agreement on a set of updates to the rules governing fishing in EU waters set out in the Common Fisheries Policy. Overfishing endangers both the long-term sustainability of the marine environment and the livelihoods of the fishermen and coastal communities that rely on it.

The agreement updates around 70% of existing rules on fishing practices. For example:
– All vessels will be required to use vessel monitoring systems (VMS) and electronic recording of catches (with a multiyear grace period for certain smaller vessels)
– Recreational fishers will also be required to electronically record their catches of certain species
– Improvements will be made in traceability of fresh fishery and aquaculture products along the supply chain
– Certain larger vessels will be equipped with devices to measure engine power to stay within CFP limits.


To help limit or avoid misreporting of catches, intentional or not, in commercial and recreational fisheries, new rules will be placed on the margin of error tolerance when estimating catches. The new rules go into effect 2-4 years after their adoption, allowing time for adjustment by commercial and recreational stakeholders.

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