High Seas Fishing in areas not managed by RFMO

High seas fishing operations in waters not managed by RFMOs shall be authorized by the flag Member State and shall comply with the specific rules laid down in European Union law governing such operations.

Thus, in addition to the dispositions set out in Article 5 of Regulation (EU) No. 2017/2403 of 12 December 2017, the following eligibility condition shall apply:

  • Have a valid fishing license in accordance with Article 6 of the Control Regulation (Regulation (EC) No. 1224/2009)
  • Implementation of the relevant IMO Vessel Identification System if required under Union law
  • The fishing vessel is not on a list of IUU vessels adopted by a RFMO and / or the Union under the IUU Regulation
  • Have a vessel monitoring system (VMS) installed and operational
  • Have an electronic recording and reporting system installed and operational (ERS)
  • Have valid certificates of navigation and compliance.

The following criteria must also be met:

  • the fishing operations envisaged are in accordance with a scientific evaluation demonstrating their sustainability, issued or validated by a scientific institute of the flag Member State, or
  • are part of a research program, including a data collection system, organized by a scientific body. The scientific research protocol, which is compulsory, shall be validated by a scientific institute of the flag Member State.

As far as fishing with bottom gear is concerned, fishing in these areas is still subject to compliance with the requirements set out in Regulation No. 734/2008, namely: Submission of a detailed fishing plan indicating the following elements:

  • The expected location of the activities
  • Target species
  • The type of gear and the depth to which it will be used; and
  • The configuration of the bathymetric profile of the seabed in the intended fishing grounds, if such information has not already been made available to the competent authorities of the flag State concerned.

The fishing authorization shall be issued only if, as a result of an impact assessment carried out by the competent authority, it is concluded that there are no significant adverse effects on vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Vessels which obtain a fishing authorization under this Regulation shall be required to take on board a scientific observer.