The Ministry of Rural Affairs designs and implements the Estonian Fisheries Policy, designed to develop the fishing industry and increasing its competitiveness.
After Estonia’s accession to the European Union, the local fisheries are regulated by the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which covers the use and protection of fishery resources, the structure and market organisation policy, and foreign policy on fisheries. The latter also includes fisheries agreements with non-EU countries, and negotiations in international organisations.
The management of fisheries is divided between four bodies in Estonia – these authorities are the Ministry of Rural Affairs, the Ministry of the Environment, the Environmental Board, and the Environmental Inspectorate.
The areas of the Ministry of Rural Affairs are the development of market organisation system, the award of structural supports and state aid, the management of aquaculture sector, commercial fishing (including issuing permits for commercial fishing, managing a national registry of fishing vessels and catch accounting).
The preparation and implementation of the Policy on the Protection and Use of Fishery Resources, including the reproduction of fish stocks and the protection and restoration of spawning grounds and habitats, are managed by the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of the Environment also provides permits for scientific research and special purpose fishing.
Recreational fishing card is provided and recreational fishing data are collected by the Environmental Board.
The monitoring of fishing activities is carried out by the Environmental Inspectorate belonging to the area of government of the Ministry of the Environment.
The instrument for the implementation of the Estonian Fisheries Policy is the Estonian Fisheries Strategy for 2014–2020, which aims to increase the income of the Estonian fishermen, balance fishing opportunities and capacities, contribute to increasing the fish value as much as possible, and develop the potential of aquaculture as an under-utilised potential.
From 2014–2020, the European Union Fisheries Policy will be implemented through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) 2014–2020.
To fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing), transhipment at sea in EU waters is prohibited by the EU and Estonian legislation. Transhipment in EU waters is allowed only in designated ports or places.
EU fishing vessels shall not be authorised to tranship at sea catches from third country fishing vessels outside Community waters unless the fishing vessels are registered as carrier vessels under the auspices of a regional fisheries management organisation.
All transhipment operations are subject to flag state authorisation and reporting obligations.
NB! As of July 2021, it is not possible to register vessels involved in transhipment operations in Estonia’s register of commercial fishing, nor to issue transhipment authorisations, nor record or report transhipment operations. THEREFORE, Estonia does not allow any transhipment operations involving Estonian flagged vessels for the time being.
For additional information, please contact the Fisheries Economics Department.
Authorities and agencies
The award of national grants and the European Union fisheries development grants set out in the Estonian Fisheries Strategy is organised by the Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB), which belongs to the area of government of the Ministry of Rural Affairs.
Knowledge and experience between various parties interested in fisheries are distributed and mediated by the Fisheries Groups Network.
The Fisheries Information Centre helps the undertakings of the fisheries sector to obtain timely know-how, training and advice as well as information on research and legislation.
The activities of the Ministry and its area of government in designing and carrying out fisheries policy are coordinated by the Fishery Economics Department.