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Oceans and fisheries

Regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs)

RFMOs are international organisations establishing binding measures for conservation and sustainable management of highly migratory or straddling fish species. 

RFMOs make sure that fishing activities does not cause significant adverse impact on biodiversity and marine ecosystems. 

Countries with fishing interests in a given geographical area form RFMOs, which are also open to coastal states. Those RMFOs can also be accessed by countries whose fleets have been traditionally fishing in these areas or are interested in participating in these fisheries.

RFMOs have the power to adopt a variety of rules to manage the fishery. They use management tools like catch limits (quota), technical measures, spatial and/or temporal restrictions, and monitoring, control and surveillance activities to ensure compliance with the rules. RFMOs make decisions based on scientific advice provided by their respective scientific bodies and regularly review member compliance.

Today, RFMOs cover the majority of the world’s seas. They can broadly be divided into RFMOs focusing only on the management of highly migratory fish stocks, notably tuna and tuna-like species (‘tuna-RFMOs’) and RFMOs that manage other fisheries resources (i.e. pelagic or demersal) in a more specific area.

The EU, represented by the Commission, plays an active role in 5 tuna-RFMOs and 13 non-tuna RFMOs. This makes the EU one of the most prominent actors in RFMOs worldwide.

Regional fisheries bodies (RFB)

Regional fisheries bodies (RFB) are also international organisations focused on fisheries management but they have a purely advisory role.


Arrangements are cooperative agreements between countries or parties to manage fish stocks in a certain area, mainly for straddling fish stocks or highly migratory fish stocks. They are like RFMOs, but they don't have a formal structure with a governing body or a secretariat.

The EU is a party to the Agreement to prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the central Arctic Ocean. The EU's participation in this agreement demonstrates its commitment to sustainable fisheries management on a global scale.


  • News announcement

The 12th annual meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) has concluded last Friday 2 February. Under the EU lead, the meeting has seen significant strides towards sustainable fisheries management. The main highlight has been the consensual agreement

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