Marketing of and trade in fishery and aquaculture products in the EU

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Series Details PE 652.012
Publication Date July 2020
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The European Union is the world's largest market for fishery and aquaculture products, with a total value of extra-EU imports and exports reaching €26.6 billion in 2018. The consumption of fish in the EU exceeded 24 kg per capita in 2017, with the highest consumption levels in Portugal and Spain. In terms of production, the EU-27, excluding the United Kingdom, ranks sixth globally. This includes catches taken by EU vessels on the high seas and in the waters of third countries. The EU's self sufficiency ratio of 43 % in fishery and aquaculture products is rather low. As a result, internal demand is primarily met through imports.

To ensure the supply of fish to the EU fish-processing industry, import duties are removed or reduced for a number of fishery products up to a specific annual import volume. In addition, products can enter the EU market, at zero or a reduced rate of duty, from countries with which the EU has a free trade agreement in force, or from developing countries that can export to the EU under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

In addition to tariffs, fish imports are subject to EU food hygiene regulations, which set out sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, and the EU's common fisheries policy (CFP). The CFP requirements include EU marketing standards − covering freshness and size categories − and specific labelling requirements that go beyond those required for other food products, for example the obligation to indicate the catch area and the main fishing gear used. Other market areas regulated by the EU cover the support and organisation of professional bodies and exemptions to competition rules. On the one hand, most market intervention mechanisms, such as withdrawal schemes and reference prices, have been removed since the most recent reform of the CFP in 2013. On the other hand, the EU fishing industry now has greater responsibility in the management of supply and demand. The submission of yearly production and marketing plans has become an obligation for all recognised producer organisations.

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