EU launches CATCH software to reduce chance of IUU products entering market

Published on
May 7, 2019

A new digitized import database system in the European Union will make it harder for illegally caught fishery products to enter the world’s most lucrative market, according to the bloc’s top marine official.

The new CATCH software, launched by Commissioner Karmenu Vella during Seafood Expo Global 2019, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in the E.U.’s executive body, will allow authorities to share and cross-reference the catch certificates required for each consignment of fishery products entering the E.U. 

The old paper-based system was easy to tamper with and “difficult to verify” leading to an “uneven level of implementation” across member states, according to Vella. Vella said he wants to have the system up and running on a compulsory basis in 2021 once it’s approved by the E.U. council and parliament, the bloc’s two other decision-making bodies. 

Those approvals should be forthcoming given the new system was built following pressure from member states and fishery firms, according to E.U. officials who spoke to SeafoodSource at the launch event. 

Those officials also detailed discussions with third party states – among them key exporters to the E.U. like China and Thailand – who will be impacted by the new system. Thailand and Vietnam have both focused on curbing illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing in their fleets after being put on the E.U.’s ‘yellow card’ warning system, which bars red-carded states from shipping product into the E.U. Vietnam remains on the yellow card list published by Commissioner Vella’s office, while Thailand’s yellow card was lifted in January

Aside from cutting down on fraud, the new CATCH system will also stop IUU fishery products entering one member state from another, given that customs authorities will be able to consult the database in real time, according to Vella. Other non-E.U. states will also ultimately be invited to use the system, added the Commissioner.

In the meantime CATCH will be open for use by E.U. based importers who choose to use it. 

“This is version 1.0 [of CATCH] … We will continue to develop the system and will introduce new risk analysis tools,” Vella said.


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