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Oceans and fisheries

Infringements and sanctions

If, through monitoring, surveillance, or inspections, national authorities identify an infringement of the CFP rules, they must take the necessary measures of enforcement and initiate proceedings to sanction the offenders. 


EU countries must establish a system of sanctions that follows EU fisheries control rules to ensure compliance with the CFP. Sanctions should be ‘dissuasive, proportionate and effective’, taking into account the severity of the violation, potential economic gain, and impact on fishing resources and marine environments.

EU countries are required to have a point system to sanction fishing licence holders and fishing vessel masters when they commit serious infringements.

The Commission can monitor how countries enforce their sanctioning systems through investigations and audits. Starting in 2026, countries must report the number of inspections carried out and violations in their national annual report on control and inspections.

EU point system for serious fisheries infringements

The Control Regulation provides for minimum sanctions and the attribution of points as a result of a confirmed serious infringement. The revised Control Regulation includes a list of serious infringements, which distinguishes between objectively qualified serious offences and infringements that are considered to be serious based on specific criteria laid down by the same legislation.

In the event of a suspected serious infringement, the competent national authorities are required to take the necessary measures, it can include stopping the vessel and rerouting it to port to conduct further investigation, as appropriate. Serious infringements detected by other EU countries must be communicated to the EU country concerned.

The number of points to be attributed for serious infringements is fixed in the Control Regulation. Those points are attributed not only to the holder of a fishing licence, but also to the vessel master.

Any vessel that accumulates more than a certain number of points in a three-year period will have its fishing licence suspended for at least two months. For repeat offences the penalty increases to 4, 8 and 12 months respectively. If, after the end of the fourth suspension period, the offender again incurs the necessary number of points, the fishing licence must be withdrawn for good.

If the offender does not commit any serious infringements within three years of the previous such infringement, all points on the fishing license are deleted and they start again with a clean slate. Points remain with the vessel and are, therefore, transferred to the new owner if the vessel is sold on.

Operators which commit serious infringements can be barred from receiving funding under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF).