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Fisheries control system

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Fisheries control system

The new European fisheries control system aims at ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy (CFP) throughout the production chain – i.e. from the boat to the retailer. Inspections at sea are still carried out, but they are enhanced in ports, during transport, in processing factories, on markets, etc., to check that fish has been caught legally.

The control system applies to all fishing activities in Community waters, and to the fishing activities of Community vessels and European Union nationals in Community and non-Community waters. It also applies to the processing and marketing of fishery products, recreational fishing involving sensitive stocks, and aquaculture.


Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy.


The restructuring of the Community fisheries control system has modernised the Community system for the control, inspection and execution of common fisheries policy (CFP) measures throughout the marketing chain.Generally, all aspects relating to the control and monitoring of fishing activities have been rendered more effective.

Control and monitoring of fishing activities

Member States are to carry out inspections of activities throughout the production chain for fishery products, in particular landing, processing, transport and marketing. The use of modern inspection technologies such as the Satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), electronic logbooks and the electronic notification of catch data has been extended. The collection, processing and analysis of fishing data have been considerably enhanced. A systematic catch weighing system has been introduced. A new system of traceability for fishery products will allow fishery products to be monitored from the vessel to the retailer.

New measures, such as risk analysis largely based on systematic and full cross-checks of all relevant data, aimed at concentrating inspection activities where the risk of illegal behaviour is highest, will strengthen the effectiveness of controls.

Among the other new fields covered by the Regulation is the monitoring of certain criteria of fleet management by Member States, such as fishing capacity and engine power. General standards are established for specific control measures concerning multiannual plans and recovery, restricted fishing areas and discards. The principles of a new system of control observers have been established.

Inspection powers

The Regulation broadens the Commission’s powers of inspection. The Commission can now, under certain conditions, carry out independent inspections without giving prior notice to the Member State concerned.


The Regulation introduces dissuasive sanctions the extent of which is fixed in a harmonised way throughout the European Union (EU) according to the value of the fishery products obtained when a serious offence is committed. The Regulation provides for a system of penalty points for serious offences concerning holders of fishing permits and masters, who will, as a last resort and after several suspensions of the fishing permit, have their permit withdrawn if they have committed a certain number of serious offences. Measures are also laid down against Member States which do not comply with CFP rules and thus endanger fish stocks. These measures include the possibility of suspending or reducing EU financial aid, the closure of fisheries and deduction of quotas.

Cooperation between Member States

The Regulation establishes a system of mutual assistance and systematic information exchange as regards controls between Member States. It also proposes a new approach to managing and communicating data relating to controls through secure national websites with direct remote access for the Commission.

Coordination authority

The Regulation extends the competences of the Community Fisheries Control Agency in order that it may provide more concrete assistance in the uniform implementation of the new control system. When facing a serious risk for the CFP, it may also, if appropriate, set up an emergency unit.

Under the CFP, control and enforcement fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of Member States. The Regulation also reaffirms the distinct roles of the Commission and Member States in order to avoid overlapping and to ensure that the Commission concentrates its efforts on its main activities – controlling and verifying the implementation of CFP rules by Member States. The new Regulation replaces the existing legal framework established in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009



OJ L 343 of 22.12.2009


Specific control and inspection programme

Commission Decision 2010/210/EU of 6 April 2010 amending Decision 2009/296/EC establishing a specific control and inspection programme related to the recovery of bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean [Official Journal L 89 of 9.4.2010].

Last updated: 15.09.2010