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Summaries of EU Legislation

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Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

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Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is a threat to the sustainable exploitation of living aquatic resources. It jeopardises the very foundation of the common fisheries policy and attenuates international efforts to promote better ocean governance.

To counteract this very lucrative phenomenon, this Regulation provides for the limitation of access to the European Union (EU) market to only certified fishery products that comply with the rules. Other provisions are to reinforce the surveillance of activities at sea, to identify IUU operators, to enhance the implementation of fisheries legislation and to improve the application of sanctions in the event of infringements.


Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, amending Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93, (EC) No 1936/2001 and (EC) No 601/2004 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 1093/94 and (EC) No 1447/1999.


This Regulation establishes a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Community and international waters. The effectiveness of this system depends on the measures adopted by Member States in line with Community legislation.

Fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing

A fishing vessel shall be presumed to be engaged in IUU fishing if it:

  • does not hold a valid fishing licence;
  • does not provide or record catch data;
  • fishes in a closed area;
  • fishes unauthorised species;
  • uses prohibited or non-compliant fishing gear;
  • falsifies or conceals its identity;
  • falsifies or conceals evidence relating to an investigation;
  • obstructs the work of inspectors;
  • takes on board, tranships or lands undersized fish;
  • participates in activities with vessels included in the IUU vessel list;
  • carries out fishing activities in an area covered by a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) without complying with the conservation and management measures of that organisation and is flagged to a State not party to that organisation, or not cooperating with that organisation;
  • is a stateless vessel.

Designated ports

Only port facilities designated by Member States of the European Union (EU) are open to vessels from third countries. Transhipments between vessels from third countries and EU vessels are prohibited at sea and shall only take place in designated ports.

Port inspections

The State in whose territory the port is located is responsible for monitoring fishery products imported into the EU. This is in order to attest that the said products are legal and that the vessel complies with the regulations, i.e. it holds the required licences and permits, and complies with fishing quotas.

Catch certificates

The catch certificate guarantees that products imported into the EU do not originate from IUU fishing. These certificates are issued by the flag State. They accompany fishery products throughout the supply chain to facilitate checks.

IUU vessel list and list of non-cooperating third countries

The Commission has established two blacklists. The first includes vessels engaged in IUU fishing and the second the list of States that are lenient towards them. In both cases, the procedures for the establishing of the lists provide for safeguards and appeal arrangements to guarantee the fair treatment of the vessels and States concerned.


Member States shall apply effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions against natural or legal persons engaged in IUU activities. A maximum sanction of at least five times the value of the fishery products obtained is provided for with regard to the committing of the said infringement. In the event of a repeated infringement within a five-year period, the Member States shall impose a maximum sanction of at least eight times the value of the fishery products obtained by committing the serious infringement.

Mutual assistance

Combating IUU fishing implies a strengthening of cooperation between the administrative authorities of Member States as well as with the administrative authorities of third countries and the Commission.

The Commission has created the IUU fishing information system to assist administrative authorities in preventing this type of activity, facilitating investigations and prosecuting offenders.


This Regulation represents (with the Communication which accompanies it) one of the first steps towards an integrated maritime policy. It is part of the Community Action Plan against IUU fishing adopted in 2002 and in line with action carried out at international level (FAO, RFMO) intended to prevent, discourage and eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008



OJ L 286 of 29.10.2008


Annex 1 – List of products excluded from the list of fishery products Regulation (EC) No 1010/2009 [Official Journal L 280 of 27.10.2009];

Regulation (EU) No 86/2010 [Official Journal L 26 of 30.1.2010];

Regulation (EU) No 202/2011 [Official Journal L 57 of 2.3.2011].


Implementing arrangements

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1010/2009 of 22 October 2009 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing [Official Journal L 280 of 27.10.2009].

Authorisation for fishing

Council Regulation (EC) No 1006/2008 of 29 September 2008 concerning authorisations for fishing activities of Community fishing vessels outside Community waters and the access of third country vessels to Community waters, amending Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93, (EC) No 1627/94 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 3317/94 [Official Journal L 286 of 29.10.2008].

Vessels engaged in combating IUU fishing

Commission Regulation (EU) No 468/2010 of 28 May 2010 establishing the EU list of vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing [Official Journal L 131 of 29.5.2010].

Competent authorities for catch certificates

List of Member States and their competent authorities concerning Articles 15(2), 17(8) and 21(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 [Official Journal C 320 of 24.12.2009].

Designated ports

List of ports in EU Member States where landings and transhipment operations of fishery products are allowed and port services are accessible for third-country fishing vessels, in accordance with Article 5(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 [Official Journal C 320 of 24.12.2009].

See also

Last updated: 20.04.2011