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Oceans and fisheries

Regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs)

The regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs) are the international organisations regulating regional fishing activities in the high seas.

Countries with fishing interests in a given geographical area form specific RFMOs. The organisations are open both to countries in the region (‘coastal states’) and countries that have interests in those fisheries (‘distant water fishing nations’).

While some RFMOs have a purely advisory role, most have management powers to set catch and fishing effort limits, technical measures, and control obligations.

Today, RFMOs cover the majority of the world’s seas. They can broadly be divided into RFMOs focussing only on the management of highly migratory fish stocks, notably tuna, (‘tuna-RFMOs’) and RFMOs that manage other fish stocks (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.

RFMOs with a purely advisory status