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:
- total allowable catches (TACs), fishing quotas, technical measures and sea days;
- multi-annual plans for endangered stocks;
- mandatory registration in the Dutch Fishing Vessels Register (NRV).
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 as of 1 January 2015
As of 1 January 2015, fishermen will 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.
The landing obligation will be introduced in phases between 2015 and 2019, so that the fisheries sector has time to refit vessels and adapt its gear.
In 2014, the Ministry of Economic Affairs awarded grants totalling €4.5 million in support of the Dutch fisheries sector. Supported projects include studies into preventing bycatch, such as placing cameras on fishing vessels or improving fishing nets. The grants are paid out of the European Fisheries Fund.
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:
- report their logbook data, including catch data, electronically;
- have an approved satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS) on board. VMS data show, for instance, the effect of fishing on the seabed in a particular area.
Fishing vessels longer than 18 metres are also required to have an automatic identification system (AIS) on board. From 1 May 2014, AIS must be on board all vessels over 15 metres in length.