Vote on the Fisheries Control Regulation
The European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries today voted on an amendment of the Fisheries Control Regulation. While improvements were made on vessel monitoring systems and customer protection, there were setbacks in the context of margins of tolerance and data collection.
Marine resources in Europe are facing consequences of decades of overfishing, and inaction on climate change and biodiversity. In this context, it is vital that we have sufficient oversight and data on fishing operations. This enables us to get insight into the state of marine resources, and to ensure that fishers are complying with regulations.
A key tool to achieve these objectives is the Fisheries Control Regulation, one of the most important regulations for governing of the Common Fisheries Policy. The regulation is undergoing a revision, and the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries just passed an amended version of the text.
The implementation of the Fisheries Control Regulation has been unsatisfactory for both fishers and environmentalists, and updating and harmonising it is a step in the right direction. The Committee on Fisheries voted to improve the control framework on several key issues:
- Requirement for all vessels to have a fully functioning vessel monitoring system (VMS) on board, with smaller vessels being allowed to use simpler devices
- Improved framework on seafood traceability, which will enhance data collection and consumer protection
- Progress on transparency, where Member States would have to make annual reports on inspections, surveillance and control publicly available; and the European Commission would have to publish a report evaluating the implementation of control programmes in Member States
- Collection of data and monitoring of recreational fisheries
- Harmonised and improved catch certificate
- Improved control of fishing restricted areas and marine protected areas
In addition, the Committee on Fisheries also voted to make improvements on lost gears and Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), to enhance the inspection powers of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), and to strengthen the infringements system.
While these improvements would address some key issues that were lacking or insufficient in the current fisheries control framework, the Committee on Fisheries also voted in favor of some provisions that will weaken and undermine the efforts to improve monitoring of fishing activities and data collection.
A number of provisions that the Committee on Fisheries voted to support would increase delays to the transfer of information from vessels to authorities, which will make it more difficult for authorities to plan and perform inspections. The Committee also voted on increased margins of tolerance and derogations in landing, weighing and transport of fish products. This would allow a significant percentage of catch to go unreported. These provisions open the door for unwanted consequences that would undermine our efforts on sustainable use and conservation of marine resources.
The Greens/EFA Group will keep fighting to improve the text in the coming months. We need to know what is happening in our seas to protect our marine resources, for the good of the environment and the fishing sector.