The European Commission has just published the 2020-2023 report on its activities to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing), in accordance with the IUU Regulation.

One of the main achievements is the amended IUU Regulation, adopted within the revision of the EU fisheries control system.

The amendments introduced the IT system CATCH, which will support the implementation of the EU IUU catch certification scheme for imported fishery products. EU importers and Member States’ authorities will be using CATCH from 2026, while non-EU countries can join voluntarily.

Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius said: “CATCH will contribute to a better protection of the EU market and its consumers against imported products obtained from IUU fishing. This IT system has a potential to become a reference point as a digital environment for catch documentation schemes and international trade flows of fishery products thanks to its web-based approach and considerable interoperability opportunities.”

These amendments also modify the content of the catch certificate and accompanying documents to improve traceability and facilitate IUU controls of fishery products destined for the EU market.

Moreover, measures applying to non-cooperating countries in the fight against IUU fishing have been reinforced.

Between 2020 and 2023, the Commission actively cooperated and provided support to international partners to promote fisheries compliance and fight against IUU fishing. This was done through bilateral IUU dialogues with non-EU countries, IUU working groups and regional and multilateral frameworks.

The Commission has also played an essential role in promoting anti-IUU fishing measures within Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and actively advocated for the ratification and effective implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Port States Measures Agreement in all its external fisheries relations, including through financial support to the FAO.

Since the application of the IUU Regulation in 2010, the EU has come to be recognised worldwide as a major player in the fight against IUU fishing.

A ‘zero tolerance’ approach to IUU fishing is implemented under the EU control system of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and the EU’s updated International Ocean Governance agenda.

The IUU Regulation contributes to efforts to eliminate IUU fishing in line with the EU’s commitment to goal 14 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

The revision of the EU fisheries control system was successfully concluded at the end of 2023. In the context of the revision, targeted amendments to the IUU Regulation laid down a legal obligation to use digital tools to implement the catch certification scheme and strengthened IUU import controls by improving the traceability of products imported into the EU.