European Fisheries Policy

Marine fisheries must comply with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the European Union (EU), which is aimed at sustainable management of fish stocks.

Aim of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP)

The aim of the CFP is to ensure that fisheries and aquaculture are ecologically, economically and socially sustainable. It is also concerned with maintaining employment and the sector's economic viability.

Catch limits allow fishers to maximise their catch while avoiding overfishing. Certain areas of the sea may also be closed to fishing.

North Sea fisheries

EU member states must manage fish stocks in a sustainable way. In other words they must prevent overfishing.

EU fisheries regulations apply to all member states. The regulations prevent overfishing in the North Sea by means of:

Information about the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) can be found on the website of the European Commission.

New Common Fisheries Policy

The Common Fisheries Policy was revised in order to make fisheries more sustainable. The new policy came into force in 2014.

The European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) helps the fisheries sector to adapt to more sustainable methods.

Landing obligation

Since 2015 fishermen have to land their entire catch. Unwanted bycatch, referred to as discards, may not be thrown back into the sea. Most discards are unsellable, undersized fish or fish for which the fisherman has no quota. Nearly all discarded fish die. The landing obligation aims to put an end to this waste. Better fishing gear and better vessels can reduce bycatch significantly. Once landed, bycatch can be processed into fishmeal, for instance. Undersized fish may not be sold to consumers.

Rules for aquaculture (fish farming)

Aquaculture is the farming of finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants. Around half of all fish eaten in the Netherlands is farmed. The European Union has set out rules for aquaculture.

Marketing and processing of fish

The Common Fisheries Policy also concerns the marketing and processing of fish.

The Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) monitors the entire fisheries chain, from catching or farming to the restaurant.

Rules for fishing vessels

Sustainable fisheries policy also includes requirements for fishing vessels. Fishing vessels longer than 12 metres are required to:

Fishing vessels longer than 18 metres are also required to have an automatic identification system (AIS) on board.