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Oceans and fisheries

Fishing fleet capacities

Management of fishing capacity ensures a stable and enduring balance between the fleets’ fishing capacity and fishing opportunities over time.


EU countries are obliged to report annually on this balance, using the guidelines prepared by the European Commission.

Also on an annual basis, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) reviews the national fleet reports and assesses the balance between the fishing capacity and the fishing opportunities for key fleet segments in the EU.

A fishing fleet capacity ceiling in kilowatts (kW) and gross tonnage (GT) is established for each EU country. New fishing vessels may enter the fleet only after the same fleet capacity (in kW and GT) is removed. Through this ‘entry-exit’ system, the EU’s fleet capacity is kept stable.

Access to waters

In general, fishing vessels registered in the EU fishing fleet register have equal access to all of the EU waters and resources that are managed under the common fisheries policy. Access to fisheries is normally authorised through a fishing licence.

There are two temporary exceptions to the rule of equal access

  • an EU country can limit access in waters up to 12 nautical miles from its coast to certain vessels and fisheries
  • in Europe’s outermost regions, access can be restricted in waters of up to 100 nautical miles from their coasts to vessels registered in these territories and to vessels that traditionally fish in those waters

The exceptions expire on 1 January 2032.

Fishing fleet register

The Commission maintains the EU fleet register with the necessary vessel information received periodically from EU countries.

Master data register

The Master data register contains data structures and lists of fisheries codes to be used in electronic information recording and exchanges among Member States and for Member States' communications with Norway with the purpose to record and report fishing activities.


  • News announcement

Over the last 4 months, a team of national researchers led by Tetra Tech and partners, a consortium contracted by the European Commission, have consulted about 200 fishers in the EU coastal member states in their local languages to define who they are, how they live, and what drives them.

  • 2 min read