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Control system

This summary has been archived and will not be updated, because the summarised document is no longer in force or does not reflect the current situation.

Control system

The Regulation places more emphasis on control. It extends its scope from conservation measures to the implementation of structural policy and measures linked to the marketing, transport and sale of fishery products. It defines the Member States’ and Commission’s roles with regard to control and also sets out penalties for non-compliance.


Council Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 of 12 October 1993 establishing a control system applicable to the common fisheries policy [see Amending acts].


The Regulation requires Member States to monitor the implementation of the common fisheries policy (CFP). It is the Commission’s duty to ensure that Member States monitor and prevent irregularities in an equitable manner. The purpose of the Regulation is to enforce compliance with resource conservation measures and collect all the information needed to set the quotas for the following year.

The system applies to Member State waters and territories, including activities by vessels flying a third-country flag and Community vessels on the high seas or in third-country waters.

Monitoring fishing vessels and their activities

Every Member State must establish a satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS) or a viable alternative to enable vessels to communicate their position and fishing effort reports to the fishery monitoring centres. The Regulation defines the scope of VMS and also stipulates that data from the system must be computer-readable.

Catch monitoring

Catch monitoring enables the Commission and Member States to know when quotas are fully used up. For that purpose, the Regulation stipulates that:

  • masters and owners must keep a logbook and notify the coastal Member State, at least four hours in advance, of the landing location, the time of arrival and the quantities of each species to be landed;
  • buyers must send auction centres a sales note or, if products are put up for sale at a later stage or not at all, owners must produce a take-over declaration;
  • transporters must forward a transport document to the competent authorities;
  • masters must have authorisation to carry out transshipment operations.

For each of the above documents the Regulation defines:

  • the obligatory information;
  • the exemptions from producing them;
  • the methods and deadlines for their receipt.

Member States must establish a validation system, including a database to facilitate the monitoring and verification of data by cross-checking. In the case of exemptions from the obligation to produce the documents for certain ports which do not possess a sufficiently developed administrative structure or for vessels whose catch does not exceed 50 kg, Member States must take samples to assess the size of the catches.

Member States must notify the Commission:

  • before the 15th of each month, of the quantities landed of each stock or group of stocks subject to a total admissible catch (TAC) and the estimated date on which 70% of the quota available to the Member State will be exhausted; after that date, notifications must become more frequent;
  • before the end of the first month of each calendar quarter, of the quantities landed of other Community stocks not subject to a TAC and of catches on the high seas and in third-country waters.

The Commission must ensure that the notifications received are available to the Member States in computer-readable form and must publish reports.

Fishing effort monitoring

Certain fishing areas are subject to fishing effort limitations, and Community vessels need a permit to fish in them.

In addition, masters of authorised vessels must forward fishing effort reports before entering and before leaving those areas, indicating catches held on board, in kilograms live weight, for each species. The Regulation also sets out the rules for communicating information to Member States, which must ensure that fishing effort reports are recorded in a computer-readable form.

Masters of Community vessels must record the time spent in a fishing area in their logbook, specifying whether they used towed gear or static gear. Member States must collect these individual records, add information collected by sampling for vessels exempt from the obligation to keep a logbook, and forward the information to the Commission for each fishing area.

Monitoring fishing gear use

All catches held on board must conform to the species composition specified for the net carried on board the vessel in question, given that each type of fishery requires nets of different minimum mesh sizes and that how they are used also varies according to the type of fishery. All other nets have to be stowed so as not to be easily useable, and the Council may even decide that they may not be carried on the same trip.

If different nets are used, the species composition for each part of the catch taken under different conditions must be noted in the logbook.

In certain fishing areas, only a specific type of net is authorised. Fishing vessels must comply with this condition.

Regulation and closure of fishing activities

All catches of quota stock by Community vessels count against the quota of the flag Member State no matter where the catch is landed.

Either the Member States or the Commission in its own right must set the date on which quotas for a stock are deemed to have been exhausted for a Member State or a fishing area and after which fishing, retention on board, transshipment and landing of that stock are prohibited.

If, after closure, it transpires that a Member State has not exhausted its quota, compensation mechanisms can be used to offset the prejudice caused, by making deductions against Member States which have exceeded their quota. The Regulation sets out the principles for such compensation.

In the event of serious or repeated infringements of the Regulation by Community vessels, Member States must establish additional controls and must inform the Commission and the other Member States.

Monitoring structural measures and the common market organisation

The Regulation tasks the Member States with monitoring all measures affecting fleet restructuring, renewal or modernisation and the development of aquaculture and coastal areas. Member States must also verify the technical aspects of marketing, including verification of minimum fish size and fish origin.

Monitoring third-country fishing vessels

Third-country fishing vessels need to obtain a licence in order to fish in Community waters. They also require prior authorisation for each transshipment or processing operation. They are subject to the same obligations as Community vessels regarding logbooks, the VMS system, the landing declaration and identification rules and must comply with even stricter or special rules with regard to leaving the Community fishing area, landing procedures and the closure of fishing.

Verification of monitoring

The Commission may request Member States to supply all information relating to the implementation of this Regulation and may organise on-the-spot checks. Where such checks reveal irregularities, it may organise independent unannounced checks.

Following such checks, the Commissions must send the Member State an evaluation report on the control system containing recommendations for improving the monitoring carried out by that Member State.

It may also decide that the existing control methods are not effective. If that is the case, the Member State concerned must conduct an administrative inquiry in which Commission officials may participate. The Member State has three months in which to inform the Commission of the results of the inquiry.

The Regulation sets out the procedures for the various types of inspection and the rights and obligations of the Commission inspectors.

Non-compliance with the rules

In the event of failure to comply with the rules, Member States must initiate administrative or criminal proceedings against the natural or legal persons responsible. Penalties should be designed to deprive them of any economic benefit gained from their offences and to discourage further offences of the same kind.

The Council may draw up a list of serious offences, and the Regulation lists the possible penalties for them.

The Regulation sets out the responsibilities of the Member States of registration, landing or transshipment for prosecuting offences and lays down the penalties for not taking the appropriate measures.


Member States must cooperate with each other and with the Commission under this Regulation, particularly on monitoring vessels suspected of having committed offences and on specific inspection and control programmes under the jurisdiction of more than one Member State.

There are provisions regulating the confidentiality of all information transmitted under this Regulation.

In many cases, the Regulation makes the Management Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture responsible for drawing up detailed rules applying certain provisions.


No later than 30 April each year, Member States must send the Commission a report on the implementation of this Regulation. On the basis of those reports, the Commission is to draw up a factual report and, every three years, it must draw up an evaluation report to be forwarded to the Council and the European Parliament.


When the common fisheries policy was reviewed in 1992, it became clear that it needed to be made more effective.

There were significant differences as regards the competent national authorities, inspection priorities, prosecution procedures and penalties. That uneven application of most of the control measures was undermining the confidence of operators in the sector and the objectives of the common fisheries policy. Monitoring is key to encouraging compliance with the rules.

Since the 2003 reforms, European Union controls and inspections have become more uniform as the competent authorities collaborate more and more closely. Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 of 20 December 2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy lays down the main provisions governing control, inspection and implementation of the common fisheries policy rules, some of which were already in this Regulation, which is to remain in force until all the necessary implementing rules have been adopted.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93



OJ L 261 of 20.10.1993

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 95/528/EC



OJ L 301 of 14.12.1995

Regulation (EC) No 2870/95



OJ L 301 of 14.12.1995

Regulation (EC) No 686/97



OJ L 102 of 19.4.1997

Regulation (EC) No 2205/97



OJ L 304 of 7.11.1997

Regulation (EC) No 2635/97



OJ L 356 of 31.12.1997

Regulation (EC) No 2846/98



OJ L 358 of 31.12.1998

Regulation (EC) No 806/2003



OJ L 122 of 16.5.2003

Regulation (EC) No 1954/2003



OJ L 289 of 7.11.2003

Regulation (EC) No 768/2005



OJ L 128 of 21.5.2005

Regulation (EC) No 1967/2006



OJ L 409 of 31.12.2006

Regulation (EC) No 1098/2007



OJ L 248 of 22.9.2007


Proposal for a Council Regulation of 14 November 2008 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy [COM(2008) 721 final – Not published in the Official Journal]. This Regulation proposes a restructuring of the Community fisheries control system. The new system provides for inspections all along the production chain and the use of the satellite-based vessel monitoring system, electronic logbooks and electronic notification of catch data. The powers of the national fisheries inspectors will be extended and dissuasive sanctions will be harmonised. The new Regulation provides for sanctions (suspension or reduction of EU financial assistance, closure of fisheries, deduction of quotas and refusal of transfers of quotas) with regard to Member States which do not comply with the rules of the CFP and the introduction of a fishing permit with a penalty point system for infringements committed. This Regulation also proposes an improvement in cooperation between Member States for the management and communication of control data by means of secure national websites providing remote access for the Commission. The new Regulation will also replace the existing legal framework established in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93.

Consultation procedure (CNS/2008/0216)

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 and (EC) No 1627/94 and repealing Regulation (EC) No 3317/94 [Official Journal L 286 of 29.10.2008]. This Regulation aims to simplify and improve the procedures related to the management of fishing authorisations. It serves the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy with regard to sustainable fisheries and control. It introduces eligibility criteria and sanctions with regard to vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. In addition, it introduces improved communication in relation to catches and fishing effort.

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 [Official Journal L 286 of 29.10.2008]. The European Union (EU) adopts measures to counteract illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing which generates a total turnover estimated at EUR 10 billion per year. This Regulation requires certification of fishery products placed on the European market, the establishment of a European blacklist of vessels engaging in IUU fishing and dissuasive sanctions with regard to the latter. The fight against illegal fishing is part of the broader context of the EU policy for the sustainable exploitation of the sea. The rules applying to fishing should be better respected in EU waters and by EU nationals when fishing outside those waters.

Commission Decision 2007/166/EC of 9 January 2007 adopting the list of Community inspectors and inspection means pursuant to Article 28(4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the common fisheries policy.

Council Decision 2004/465/EC of 29 April 2004 on a Community financial contribution towards Member States’ fisheries control programmes [Official Journal L 157 of 30.4.2004]. This Decision defines the conditions under which the EU can grant a financial contribution to Member States for fisheries control programmes established by them for the purpose of monitoring, control and surveillance in the areas covered by the common fisheries policy. Member States wishing to receive a financial contribution must notify their control programme to the Commission. The annual appropriations are authorised by the Budgetary Authority within the limits of the financial perspective. They amount to €70 million for 2004-05. The financial contribution must not exceed 50% of the eligible expenditure.

Council Decision 2001/431/EC of 28 May 2001 on a financial contribution by the Community to certain expenditure incurred by the Member States in implementing the control, inspection and surveillance systems applicable to the common fisheries policy [Official Journal L 154 of 9.6.2001]. In 1990, the Community introduced a financial support scheme intended to help Member States set up control structures and, in particular, to promote certain particularly effective control methods, such as remote surveillance of fishing activities. To take account of the results of the measure and of Member States’ needs in the field, the arrangements were amended in 1995 and, more recently, by this Decision in 2001. The combination of a reduction in support for certain types of action and an increase in other sectors necessitates an adjustment in the budget, which was an average of €41 million per year under the Decision preceding this one. The annual amount set for 2001 to 2003 is €35 million.

Council Regulation (EC) No 1627/94 of 27 June 1994 laying down general provisions concerning special fishing permits [Official Journal L 171 of 6.7.1994]. This Regulation gives the Member States the task of issuing and administering fishing licences for vessels flying their flag. Licences for vessels flying a third-country flag and operating in Community fishing areas are issued and administered by the Commission.

Last updated: 05.02.2009