The EU lends its flag to a large fleet of vessels that operate in distant waters, meeting our ever-growing demand for seafood by netting catch as far afield as Greenland the distant Pacific Island States, and in all world’s oceans.
All EU fishing vessels operating in third-country waters or on the high seas need an authorization under the EU’s Fishing Authorisation Regulation (FAR). However, until now it was unknown how many boats operated in these waters, their names, and where and when they were authorised to fish.
WhoFishesFAR discloses this information for the first time ever, making it available to the general public. From 2010 to 2014 at least 15,264 fishing vessels operated under EU flags in external waters using a FAR authorization and are included in this database. 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 data was obtained 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.
This website aims to demonstrate the need for institutional transparency and accountability of the activities of the EU fleet activities in waters outside EU. Transparent, accountable and sustainable activities of the EU fleet should be guaranteed no matter where they operate.
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 are going to be rewritten. The European Commission came with a proposal on 10 December 2015 called Regulation on the sustainable management of External Fishing Fleets (COM(2015) 636) that will now be put before the European Parliament and Council of Ministers for amendments.
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. Such fishing deprives coastal communities of income, livelihood and food security, leads to unfair competition for legitimate fishers, and undermines efforts to safeguard global fish stocks.