EU rules to combat IUU fishing
The EU is working to close the loopholes that allow operators to profit from IUU fishing activities.
The EU regulation to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (in short: the IUU Regulation) entered into force on 1 January 2010.
The Commission is working actively with all stakeholders to ensure coherent application of the IUU Regulation.
Only marine fishery products accompanied by catch certificates validated by the competent flag state can be imported into the EU.
The EU regularly updates the IUU vessel list. It includes IUU vessels identified by regional fisheries management organisations.
The IUU Regulation can take steps against states turning a blind eye to illegal fishing activities: the Commission first issues a warning (yellow card), then if the country is still not complying, it will identify the country as non-cooperating. (the so-called red card) and place it in the list of non-cooperating countries. Fisheries products from the country in question will then be banned from the EU market (see the fact sheet below).
The IUU Regulation also applies to EU operators operating anywhere in the world and under any flag.
CATCH is the first IT tool to streamline checks and verifications of catch certificates for fishery products entering the EU market. The use of CATCH will become compulsory for EU operators and authorities for imports of fishery products as of 10 January 2026 through the most recent revision of the IUU Regulation (see Article 4 of the revised Fisheries Control).
In March 2023 the EU joined the IUU Fishing Action Alliance. The EU fully supports the main objectives of the Alliance through the IUU Regulation: internally with Member States by means of the EU Catch Certification Scheme and externally via IUU dialogues with third countries, actions on international ocean governance, maritime safety and labour conditions.
Euronews Ocean: How Europe-supported projects are reducing illegal fishing in the Western Indian Ocean.
The ample fish stocks of the Western Indian Ocean provide livelihoods to coastal communities. But this hard-to-control area has become a hotspot for illegal fishing that's now endangering the marine ecosystem.