The EU Distant Water Fleet / by Francisco Blaha

From 2010 to 2014 at least 15,264 fishing vessels operated under EU flags in external waters using a FAR authorisation. The data has been provided by the European Commission and also includes additional information from 2006 to 2020, amounting to 16,336 unique vessels – including 978 licences that were given to third (or non-EU) countries to operate in EU waters.

This is what WhoFishesFAR, a recently launched website sponsored by a series of NGOs (EJF, Oceana, and WWF) has found after an access of information request to the European Commission. The data includes all official agreements, but not private agreements, as the EU Commission itself admits that the EU has no data on these agreements.

The website is fully interactive and searchable, I recommend you have a go at your key interest areas.

The aim is to share light over the rules governing both the licensing of the European Union’s large fishing fleet operating outside EU waters, and the licensing of non-EU countries’ vessels such as Norway, Iceland and Faroe Islands to fish in EU waters, the so-called FAR, which will be rewritten in 2015. The reform of the FAR must ensure that the activities of the EU fleet and nationals operating outside EU waters are transparent, accountable and sustainable. Otherwise, the EU risks allowing its fleet to be engaged in IUU fishing through legal loopholes. 

Would be interesting to see if there is a correlation in between the difficulties around some of those agreements and the incidence of yellow cards under the EU IUU Regulation.