Fisheries under Regional Fisheries Organizations 

The purpose of the licensing of sea fishing activity in international waters is to use the Portuguese fishing opportunities, in accordance with the Relative Stability Principle established in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of 1983, in high sea waters managed by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).

The quotas available for Portugal and the terms of operation established by the RFMOs are issued annually in EU regulation, particularly in the annual TAC and Quotas Regulation.


 Northern Regional Fisheries Organizations

Currently, there are 11 vessels that operate mainly for the capture of cod, redfish and greenland halibut.

The assessment of the state of the stocks, which serves as the basis for the establishment of TACs and catch limits by the RFMOs is carried out either by the ICES - International Council for the Exploitation of the Sea - or by the scientific councils of the RFMOs themselves.

In the Northwest Atlantic, in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) area, the Portuguese fleet essentially catches redfish, cod and greenland halibut, along with other quotas available for Portugal, such as white hake and skates.

The conditions of operation are set by the Conservation and Enforcement Measures which also establish the annual quotas allocated to the different Contracting Parties for the different species.

Redfish in the Irminger Sea in the Northeast Atlantic is governed by a more recent RFMO than NAFO called NEAFC – North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission - developed since 1994. The NEAFC regulatory area corresponds geographically to areas of ICES/CIEM. The terms of operation are established by recommendations adopted annually for regulated species - herring, blue whiting, mackerel, redfish and deep-sea species - and by the Scheme of Control.

In the Mediterranean Sea, the GFCM - General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean - which dates back to 1949, adopts recommendations on the conservation and management of fisheries in its area of the Convention.


 Regional Fisheries Organizations of the South

The ICCAT - International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas - has been restricting the catch of species such as swordfish, bluefin tuna, albacore and bigeye tuna throughout the Atlantic, with implications for EU quotas and consequently Portuguese quotas.

The international waters of the Indian Ocean are regulated by the IOTC - Indian Ocean Tuna Commission - and the SIOFA - South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement which adopts Resolutions establishing conditions and limitations for fishing.

The fishing activity in the Pacific Ocean is regulated by the WCPFC - Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission - in the Western area located in FAO divisions 71,77 and 81, by the SPRFMO - South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization - in the South area, and by IATTC / CIAT - Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission - in the Southeast area located in FAO division 87.

In the area south of 20ºS and north of 60ºS, to the meridian 120ºO, in the zone of the WCPFC Convention, Portugal does not have access to the licensing of its surface longliners fleet, being the fishing of swordfish prohibited in this zone.

It is also worth mentioning the existence of a Regional Fisheries Management Organization whose regulatory area is located in FAO zone 47, beyond the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zones of Angola, Namibia and South Africa - SEAFO - South East Atlantic Fisheries Organization - which aims at conservation and management of straddling stocks in the South-East Atlantic and establishes specific operating conditions, including compulsory shipment of scientific observer on board throughout the fishing season.