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Landing, unloading, trading and transporting fish

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Fish traders in the Netherlands must comply with a range of rules. There are rules on subjects such as transport, selling from a vessel and buying. Rules also exist for fish auctions.

Fish quotas

Every year, the European Union sets the quantity of fish that can be caught accoring to species. This is known as the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) (in Dutch). The TAC is divided into quotas for the various EU countries. The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit, NVWA) monitors whether fishermen keep to the quotas.

Landing and unloading fish

If you want to land fish in the Netherlands you must give advance notification (at least 4 hours prior to the actual landing) to the AID communications room of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (Nederlandse Voedsel en Waren Autoriteit, NVWA). If you want to unload fish, you need permission from NVWA.

Landing obligation

A landing obligation applies to species subject to a fishing quota. This means that you must land all of the fish you catch. You may not discard any bycatch. This way, bycatches are reduced as much as possible. The landing obligation will be implemented in phases (see Changes in fishery regulations below).

Tracking obligation

If you bring fish onto the market, you must ensure the fish is labelled or accompanied by tracking documentation (in Dutch). This way the fish is always traceable to source. The information must include:

  • the trade name
  • the production method
  • the area the fish was caught
  • the identification number of every catch
  • the name of the vessel
  • the date of the catch or production

Fish auctions

Intermediaries at fish auctions are responsible for stating the registration numbers and nationalities of the vessels that catch or bring in fish. If the fish were caught by a pair of vessels, you must state the numbers of both vessels. You must keep a record of all the details of the fish traded through your auction.

As an intermediary, you must submit an electronic sales document (in Dutch) within 48 hours of the sale of the fish brought in to your auction.


If you have bought fish outside the fish auction, you have to submit a report accordingly to NVWA or to a catch notification box. Only then you may receive and transport the fish.

If a minimum fish size has been set for a particular fish species and you have bought undersized fish of this species, you must be able to demonstrate the origin of this fish. In some cases, buyers of fish such as fresh herring, mackerel or horse mackerel must weigh the fish or arrange for it to be weighed. The party weighing the fish must keep a record. The weighing log and the record must be retained for 6 years. Most documents, records and forms must be retained for a period of 3 years.

Selling from a vessel

When selling from a vessel, you may only sell to registered buyers or at registered fish auctions.


Unprocessed fish transported in the Netherlands must be accompanied by a number of documents until the first sale, including a transport document. You must retain the documents for 3 years.

Changes in fishery regulations

A number of important changes in fishery regulations have been introduced for coastal, inland and sea fisheries:

These exceptions are listed in the Fishery Information Bulletin (December 2018). This information bulletin also explains what the regulations mean for your fishing vessels and which exceptions apply.

Other sea fishery matters in the bulletin include:

  • The North Sea several year plan and the required fishing permits stemming from it;
  • The changes in regulations for acquiring fishing permits for fishing outside European Union waters;
  • Measures to protect sea bass.

This article is related to:

This information is provided by

Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO