Fisheries Control: the Commission’s proposal for a revised regulation published

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08 Jun

On 30 May 2018, the European Commission submitted to the European Parliament and the EU Council a proposal for a revised control regulation to improve, modernise and simplify the fisheries control. Recreational fisheries are covered by the proposal. If adopted, the Member States are required to put in place “a system to control participants in recreational fisheries (registration or licensing) and to collect information of catches.”

The overall objective of the proposal is to ensure sustainable fisheries. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “we are proposing improvements to modernise the existing control system to make it more efficient and ensure that all operators in the fishing industry in the EU are treated equally." 

The Control Regulation in force (Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009), which entered into force in 2010, is considered obsolete, not in line with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and in need of an update. The proposal (90 pages) suggests many modifications of existing provisions as well as new ones to increase the efficiency of the Control Regulation. Among other things it’ll deliver: 
  • clearer definition of what qualifies as serious infringement and the corresponding sanctions; 
  • improved and more reliable fisheries data system based on electronic reporting of catches and electronic tracking system for all EU fishing vessels, including small vessels below 12 metres; 
  • enhanced traceability of EU and imported fishery and aquaculture products; 
  • reinforced rules on fishing gear and how to prevent ghost fishing and marine litter; 
  • an upgraded mandate of the European Fisheries Control Agency’s (EFCA) to be fully in line with the CFP’s objectives. 

Several provisions apply to recreational fisheries. Article 55 ‘Recreational fisheries’, has been tightened and expanded. It’ll oblige Member States to: 

- put in place a registration or a licensing system monitoring the number of natural and legal persons involved in recreational fisheries; and 

- collect data on catches from such fisheries through catch reporting or other data collection mechanisms based on a methodology which shall be notified to the Commission. 

And with regard to stocks, groups of stocks and species that are subject to Union conservation measures applicable to recreational fisheries, Member States shall: 

- ensure that natural and legal persons involved [note: e.g. charter boats] in recreational fisheries for such stocks or species record and send catch declarations electronically to the competent authorities on a daily basis or after each fishing trip; and 

- put in place a registration or licensing system for vessels used in such recreational fisheries. 

EAA comment: Today, sea anglers in about half of the EU Member States already are obliged to fish under a registration or licensing system. We are happy to see that the Commission gives the Member States a choice, that a fully fledged fee licensing system is not required to comply with the new rules (if adopted). We have promoted the Italian system, which requires sign up but no payment. When launched a few years ago more than 800,000 Italian sea anglers signed up. 

The small-scale commercial sector (vessels <12m) will also be controlled more intensively. 

The increased transparency provided by the revised Control Regulation will, we believe, lead to less conflict between the recreational- and the small scale fisheries sector. 

  •  Read the Commission press release here.
  • The complete proposal can be accessed here (in English only for now).

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