Category Archives: Management of Fisheries Resources and the Environment

The common fisheries policy (CFP) aims to guarantee the sustainability of living aquatic resources and environmental protection. To ensure sustainable fishing, the European Union has drawn up multiannual plans to replenish and manage the stocks, as well as specific measures (total allowable catches, limitation of the fishing effort, the prohibition of certain fishing gear, minimum landing sizes, etc.). Finally, it has adopted regulations to protect species not targeted by fisheries (marine mammals, birds and turtles), juveniles and vulnerable fish stocks and sensitive habitats.

Recovery of cod stocks

Recovery of cod stocks

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Recovery of cod stocks

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Recovery of cod stocks

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1342/2008 of 18 December 2008 establishing a long-term plan for cod stocks and the fisheries exploiting those stocks and repealing Regulation (EC) No 423/2004 [See amending act(s)].

Summary

The long-term plan for the recovery of cod stocks should ensure the sustainable exploitation of cod resources on the basis of maximum sustainable yield.

Geographical areas

The recovery plan applies to the following geographical areas:

  • the Kattegat;
  • the North Sea, the Skagerrak and the eastern Channel;
  • the west of Scotland;
  • the Irish Sea.

Total allowable catch (TAC)

The Council will determine the TAC each year for the following year, for each of the cod stocks in the areas set out. The TAC is set according to the optimal fishing rate in order to guarantee the maximum sustainable catch. Under the new recovery plan, the TAC will no longer be set according to levels of biomass (quantity of fish in the sea). It will be calculated after subtracting the quantity of discards of cod and the quantity corresponding to other sources of fishing mortality.

Fishing mortality will be reduced from one year to the next, by 25 %, 15 % or 10 % according to the condition of the stocks, until the mortality rate reaches 0.4.

If the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) does not have sufficient information on the condition of stocks, the plan provides for:

  • a reduction in fishing mortality of 25 % where scientific opinion recommends a reduction in catches at the lowest level possible;
  • a reduction in fishing mortality of 15 % in other cases.

Limiting the fishing effort

This Regulation introduces a new management system for the fishing effort which fixes thresholds (expressed in kilowatt-days) per group of vessels or fleet segment *, taking into account the fishing gear and meshes used. The management of these thresholds shall be carried out by Member States. The latter shall take the appropriate measures to guarantee that the effort does not exceed the forecasted limits.

The Regulation includes an innovation. Member States may allow additional fishing effort rates for some vessels that follow best practices in order to reduce their cod catches. This measure will encourage, amongst other things, the use of more selective trawls and compliance with boxes targeting spawning areas. Nevertheless, fishing efforts should not increase.

Member States are authorised to transfer fishing effort and capacity between geographical areas and between effort groups *.

Designated ports

Landings of over two tonnes of cod are authorised only in the designated ports. Member States shall designate these ports and set inspection and surveillance procedures relating thereto, including the conditions for recording and reporting the quantities of cod landed.

Context

This Regulation is based on the opinions of the interested parties, who met on the occasion of the conference on the recovery of cod stocks in March 2007.

The Commission will evaluate the impact of management measures on cod stocks and the fisheries concerned at the latest during the third year of application of this Regulation and then every three years. Where appropriate, the Commission may propose relevant measures to amend the Regulation based on opinions provided by the STECF and having consulted the relevant Regional Advisory Council.

Key terms of the Act
  • Fleet segment: a group of vessels belonging to the same length class (overall length) and having the same main fishing gear throughout the year. Vessels may carry out different fishing activities during the reference period but may only be classed in one fleet segment.
  • Effort group: a management unit of a Member State for which a maximum allowable fishing effort is set. It is defined by a gear grouping and a geographical area.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) 1342/2008

1.1.2009

L 348, 24.12.2008

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009

23.12.2009

L 343, 22.12.2009

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 1342/2008 have been incorporated in to the original text. This consolidated versionis for reference purposes only.

Related Acts

Council Regulation (EU) No 57/2011 of 18 January 2011 fixing for 2011 the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in EU waters and, for EU vessels, in certain non-EU waters.

Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Combating illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

To counteract this very lucrative phenomenon, this Regulation provides for the limitation of access to the European Union (EU) market to only certified fishery products that comply with the rules. Other provisions are to reinforce the surveillance of activities at sea, to identify IUU operators, to enhance the implementation of fisheries legislation and to improve the application of sanctions in the event of infringements.

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, amending Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93, (EC) No 1936/2001 and (EC) No 601/2004 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 1093/94 and (EC) No 1447/1999.

Summary

This Regulation establishes a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Community and international waters. The effectiveness of this system depends on the measures adopted by Member States in line with Community legislation.

Fishing vessels engaged in IUU fishing

A fishing vessel shall be presumed to be engaged in IUU fishing if it:

  • does not hold a valid fishing licence;
  • does not provide or record catch data;
  • fishes in a closed area;
  • fishes unauthorised species;
  • uses prohibited or non-compliant fishing gear;
  • falsifies or conceals its identity;
  • falsifies or conceals evidence relating to an investigation;
  • obstructs the work of inspectors;
  • takes on board, tranships or lands undersized fish;
  • participates in activities with vessels included in the IUU vessel list;
  • carries out fishing activities in an area covered by a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) without complying with the conservation and management measures of that organisation and is flagged to a State not party to that organisation, or not cooperating with that organisation;
  • is a stateless vessel.

Designated ports

Only port facilities designated by Member States of the European Union (EU) are open to vessels from third countries. Transhipments between vessels from third countries and EU vessels are prohibited at sea and shall only take place in designated ports.

Port inspections

The State in whose territory the port is located is responsible for monitoring fishery products imported into the EU. This is in order to attest that the said products are legal and that the vessel complies with the regulations, i.e. it holds the required licences and permits, and complies with fishing quotas.

Catch certificates

The catch certificate guarantees that products imported into the EU do not originate from IUU fishing. These certificates are issued by the flag State. They accompany fishery products throughout the supply chain to facilitate checks.

IUU vessel list and list of non-cooperating third countries

The Commission has established two blacklists. The first includes vessels engaged in IUU fishing and the second the list of States that are lenient towards them. In both cases, the procedures for the establishing of the lists provide for safeguards and appeal arrangements to guarantee the fair treatment of the vessels and States concerned.

Sanctions

Member States shall apply effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions against natural or legal persons engaged in IUU activities. A maximum sanction of at least five times the value of the fishery products obtained is provided for with regard to the committing of the said infringement. In the event of a repeated infringement within a five-year period, the Member States shall impose a maximum sanction of at least eight times the value of the fishery products obtained by committing the serious infringement.

Mutual assistance

Combating IUU fishing implies a strengthening of cooperation between the administrative authorities of Member States as well as with the administrative authorities of third countries and the Commission.

The Commission has created the IUU fishing information system to assist administrative authorities in preventing this type of activity, facilitating investigations and prosecuting offenders.

Context

This Regulation represents (with the Communication which accompanies it) one of the first steps towards an integrated maritime policy. It is part of the Community Action Plan against IUU fishing adopted in 2002 and in line with action carried out at international level (FAO, RFMO) intended to prevent, discourage and eradicate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

References

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008

29.10.2008

OJ L 286 of 29.10.2008

AMENDMENTS TO THE ANNEXES

Annex 1 – List of products excluded from the list of fishery products
Regulation (EC) No 1010/2009 [Official Journal L 280 of 27.10.2009];
Regulation (EU) No 86/2010 [Official Journal L 26 of 30.1.2010];
Regulation (EU) No 202/2011 [Official Journal L 57 of 2.3.2011].

Related Acts

Implementing arrangements

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1010/2009 of 22 October 2009 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing [Official Journal L 280 of 27.10.2009].

Authorisation for fishing

Council Regulation (EC) No 1006/2008 of 29 September 2008 concerning authorisations for fishing activities of Community fishing vessels outside Community waters and the access of third country vessels to Community waters, amending Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93, (EC) No 1627/94 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 3317/94 [Official Journal L 286 of 29.10.2008].

Vessels engaged in combating IUU fishing

Commission Regulation (EU) No 468/2010 of 28 May 2010 establishing the EU list of vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing [Official Journal L 131 of 29.5.2010].

Competent authorities for catch certificates

List of Member States and their competent authorities concerning Articles 15(2), 17(8) and 21(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008[Official Journal C 320 of 24.12.2009].

Designated ports

List of ports in EU Member States where landings and transhipment operations of fishery products are allowed and port services are accessible for third-country fishing vessels, in accordance with Article 5(2) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008[Official Journal C 320 of 24.12.2009].

Building a sustainable future for aquaculture

Building a sustainable future for aquaculture

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Building a sustainable future for aquaculture

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Building a sustainable future for aquaculture

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of 8 April 2009 – Building a sustainable future for aquaculture – A new impetus for the Strategy for the Sustainable Development of European Aquaculture [COM(2009) 162 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Seven years on from the adoption of the strategy for the sustainable development of European aquaculture in 2002, significant progress has been made in ensuring the environmental sustainability and quality of European Union (EU) aquaculture production. However, unlike other regions in the world where high rates of growth have been recorded, the total volume of aquaculture production (mainly fish and shellfish) in the EU overall has stagnated.

In its Communication, the Commission examines the causes of this stagnation and envisages actions which are under the responsibility of public authorities, in order to improve competitiveness, sustainability and governance in the sector.

Barriers to the growth of European aquaculture

The European Union depends more and more on imports of fishery and aquaculture products. Even though European aquaculture benefits from dynamic support in terms of research and technology innovation, advanced equipment and fish feed, qualified and trained entrepreneurs, and operates within a legal framework for environment and health protection, the industry is faced with many challenges. In particular, aquaculture enterprises must have access to the space and water required for production, obtain the associated multiple authorisations, maintain as far as possible the health of fish despite an insufficiency of medicines and vaccines, have access to capital to invest and develop, withstand pressure from imports, etc.

Building the future of the European Union aquaculture industry

It is in the interests of the European Union to better promote this sector and to raise awareness on the part of public authorities and investors. Even if wild stocks of fish recover to Maximum Sustainable Yield levels, the rapidly expanding demand will also have to be met from aquaculture production.

The EU must put in place appropriate measures to ensure that the Community aquaculture industry can take a lead role in the production of aquatic food, technology and innovation, and the setting of standards and certification processes at European and international level. The aim of this Communication is to help bring about the conditions for a successful and sustainable aquaculture industry that can compete successfully in the market.

Public authorities should establish a predictable, consistent and cost-effective legislative framework. In order to be effective, the strategy should be supported by all. Its vision and objectives should be strengthened and relayed by public authorities at national and regional level.

Improving competitiveness, sustainability and governance

In order to increase competitiveness in the sector, it is essential to continue to support research and technological development, to promote spatial planning in coastal zones and take into account the needs of the aquaculture sector as regards the market for fishery and aquaculture products.

To guarantee the sustainable development of aquaculture, the EU must continue to support environment-friendly production methods, but also ensure that aquaculture has access to a high-quality environment particularly in terms of water quality. It must also guarantee animal welfare and health and continue to provide a high level of consumer protection.

It is important to enhance the image of European aquaculture and public authorities should improve aspects related to governance, especially in terms of reducing administrative charges, consulting stakeholders and informing the public.

Aquaculture’s success depends to a great extent on the existence of an environment which is favourable to enterprises in this sector. The Commission therefore proposes to provide Member States and regional authorities with guidance, to ensure that targeted measures taken at local, national and EU level help the sector to fully exploit its assets.

Concerted action at all levels to unlock the potential of the aquaculture sector should offer many advantages. In this regard, the Commission considers that a strong and revitalised aquaculture industry will also benefit related sectors, contribute to the development of rural areas and coastal zones, and could meet the demands of consumers who will have access to high-quality food which is healthy and produced using ecological methods.

Fisheries control system

Fisheries control system

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Fisheries control system

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Fisheries control system

The control system applies to all fishing activities in Community waters, and to the fishing activities of Community vessels and European Union nationals in Community and non-Community waters. It also applies to the processing and marketing of fishery products, recreational fishing involving sensitive stocks, and aquaculture.

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009 establishing a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the common fisheries policy.

Summary

The restructuring of the Community fisheries control system has modernised the Community system for the control, inspection and execution of common fisheries policy (CFP) measures throughout the marketing chain.Generally, all aspects relating to the control and monitoring of fishing activities have been rendered more effective.

Control and monitoring of fishing activities

Member States are to carry out inspections of activities throughout the production chain for fishery products, in particular landing, processing, transport and marketing. The use of modern inspection technologies such as the Satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), electronic logbooks and the electronic notification of catch data has been extended. The collection, processing and analysis of fishing data have been considerably enhanced. A systematic catch weighing system has been introduced. A new system of traceability for fishery products will allow fishery products to be monitored from the vessel to the retailer.

New measures, such as risk analysis largely based on systematic and full cross-checks of all relevant data, aimed at concentrating inspection activities where the risk of illegal behaviour is highest, will strengthen the effectiveness of controls.

Among the other new fields covered by the Regulation is the monitoring of certain criteria of fleet management by Member States, such as fishing capacity and engine power. General standards are established for specific control measures concerning multiannual plans and recovery, restricted fishing areas and discards. The principles of a new system of control observers have been established.

Inspection powers

The Regulation broadens the Commission’s powers of inspection. The Commission can now, under certain conditions, carry out independent inspections without giving prior notice to the Member State concerned.

Sanctions

The Regulation introduces dissuasive sanctions the extent of which is fixed in a harmonised way throughout the European Union (EU) according to the value of the fishery products obtained when a serious offence is committed. The Regulation provides for a system of penalty points for serious offences concerning holders of fishing permits and masters, who will, as a last resort and after several suspensions of the fishing permit, have their permit withdrawn if they have committed a certain number of serious offences. Measures are also laid down against Member States which do not comply with CFP rules and thus endanger fish stocks. These measures include the possibility of suspending or reducing EU financial aid, the closure of fisheries and deduction of quotas.

Cooperation between Member States

The Regulation establishes a system of mutual assistance and systematic information exchange as regards controls between Member States. It also proposes a new approach to managing and communicating data relating to controls through secure national websites with direct remote access for the Commission.

Coordination authority

The Regulation extends the competences of the Community Fisheries Control Agency in order that it may provide more concrete assistance in the uniform implementation of the new control system. When facing a serious risk for the CFP, it may also, if appropriate, set up an emergency unit.

Under the CFP, control and enforcement fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of Member States. The Regulation also reaffirms the distinct roles of the Commission and Member States in order to avoid overlapping and to ensure that the Commission concentrates its efforts on its main activities – controlling and verifying the implementation of CFP rules by Member States. The new Regulation replaces the existing legal framework established in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009

1.1.2010

OJ L 343 of 22.12.2009

RELATED ACTS

Specific control and inspection programme

Commission Decision 2010/210/EU of 6 April 2010 amending Decision 2009/296/EC establishing a specific control and inspection programme related to the recovery of bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean [Official Journal L 89 of 9.4.2010].

Indicators of fishing capacity and effort

Indicators of fishing capacity and effort

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Indicators of fishing capacity and effort

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Indicators of fishing capacity and effort

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 5 February 2007 on improving fishing capacity and effort indicators under the common fisheries policy [COM(2007) 39 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission sparks off a debate on the most appropriate way of measuring fishing * capacity * and effort. Though technical, these questions are of major importance in the context of the common fisheries policy (CFP).

CFP reform introduced a system for limiting European Union (EU) fishing capacity to bring it into line with available resources. There are also measures under the CFP aimed at matching fishing effort to existing stock levels.

The sustainable exploitation of stocks depends on the use of common indicators, without which it is impossible to measure the fishing capacity and effort of Europe’s 88 000?vessel fishing fleet.

Fishing capacity

Fishing capacity can be quantified on the basis of two main types of indicators:

  • vessel characteristics; and
  • fishing-gear characteristics.

In the CFP context, fishing capacity has until now been calculated on the basis of vessel characteristics. The indicators used currently are the tonnage of a vessel, which indicates its enclosed volume, and its engine power.

There are other indicators of fishing capacity based on vessel characteristics (e.g. the volume of its fish holds, freezing capacity and, in the case of trawlers, towing power), but these do not add any value compared to the two main indicators.

Apart from tonnage and power, fishing-gear characteristics can also be taken as alternative indicators of fishing capacity. For the purposes of measuring capacity on this basis, gear should be divided into two types. The first type covers gear that stays attached to the vessel, such as:

  • trawls, with fishing capacity calculated in terms oftrawling speed and the opening of the net at the water’s surface;
  • longlines, the capacity of which can be quantified on the basis of the number of hooks or the length of the line;
  • purse seines, where capacity depends on the total length of the net, the depth of which is specific to the target species.

The second type includes gear that is not attached to the vessel, such as:

  • pots, the capacity of which can be measured on the basis of number and size;
  • gillnets and trammel nets, the capacity of which is directly related to their size.

Shortcomings and drawbacks

The Commission is satisfied with the common definition of tonnage which is used for all vessels across all Member States, thus avoiding the inconsistency that existed in the past.

When it comes to measuring and certifying vessel power, on the other hand, the Commission focuses rather on the shortcomings of the current system. An engine can be certified with a power much lower than its maximum power and this is very difficult to monitor.

Fishing vessels also use auxiliary power. Increased auxiliary power has made it possible to use bigger nets and to fish at greater depths. The Commission wants to include the power of auxiliary engines in the definition of fishing capacity.

Fishing effort

Fishing effort is defined as fishing capacity times fishing activity, calculated on the basis of time spent in a well-defined area.

According to the Commission, a more suitable indicator for measuring activity would be the actual time spent fishing, or “soak time” (the time during which the fishing gear is actively in the water), despite the difficulty of properly monitoring this in the case of gears (nets, pots, etc.) not attached to a vessel.

The Commission underlines the vital role of the logbook in monitoring a vessel’s activity. The vessel monitoring system (VMS) and implementation of the electronic logbook allow activity to be monitored with precision.

Action plans

In view of the shortcomings of indicators based on vessel characteristics, the Commission proposes:

  • consolidating the tonnage measurement provisions currently included in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2930/86;
  • continuing consultations with engine manufacturers and classification bodies in order to determine the best technical solution for the certification of engine power, following which there will be exchanges with Member States’ experts. On the basis of these discussions the Commission would propose new legal provisions on engine power.

Regarding the use of fishing gear characteristics as indicators, the Commission may take measures on the basis of:

  • consultations on the issue during 2007 with Member States, stakeholders and scientists;
  • case studies aimed at gathering information from the Member States as to limits applying to fishing gear type and size at national, regional and local level;
  • possible pilot projects in 2008 involving some selected fisheries being managed on the basis of the indicators mentioned in the Communication.
Key terms used in the act
  • Fishing capacity: the capacity of a vessel or a group of vessels to catch fish;
  • Fishing effort: in Community law, the fishing effort of a vessel (or a fleet) is defined as the product of its capacity, expressed in tonnage and engine power, and its activity. The capacity represents the power and the activity represents the period during which use is made of that power.

Rights-based management tools in fisheries

Rights-based management tools in fisheries

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Rights-based management tools in fisheries

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Rights-based management tools in fisheries

Document or Iniciative

Commission Communication of 26 February 2007 on rights-based management tools in fisheries [COM(2007) 73 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

Globally, all management systems have introduced some form of access and/or use rights to fishery resources. This is also the case for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which provides inter alia for the granting of national licences and quotas, the limitation of “days at sea” for certain fisheries, and various measures to limit fleet capacity. Although the basic mechanisms of the CFP for allocating fishing rights among the Member States have proved to be effective, in other respects the CFP has fallen short of its objectives, as is shown by the depleted condition of many fish stocks, and the poor economic performance of some parts of the fleet. The current main objective of the CFP therefore is to conserve resources in order to preserve the ecosystem and sustain economic activity.

The Commission considers that the wide variety of management systems currently applied in the Community lacks transparency, efficacy and in some cases overall coherence, and this merely adds to the economic difficulties faced by the fishing industry. The aim of this Communication is to examine various options for improving the efficacy of management in the fishing industry, while helping to achieve the basic objectives of the CFP. The Commission proposes launching a debate with Member States and the fishing industry which it hopes will be “pragmatic, transparent and fruitful”. The topics to be examined include an assessment and improvement of the systems in place and the sharing of best practices.

Community context

Fisheries management systems form part of the competences shared between the European Union (EU) and the Member States. Community competences relate to:

  • limiting total fleet size;
  • fixing catch and fishing effort levels;
  • adopting technical measures (restrictions on the use of certain vessels or gears) in order to better protect stocks.

National authorities are responsible for distributing and managing licences, quotas and fishing effort at national and regional levels.

All these management measures help to define and characterise the rights of access and harvest of individual fishermen. Economic value can be attached to these rights but this often occurs in a non-transparent and unpredictable way.

Rights-based management systems in fisheries

Rights-based management systems in fisheries are simply a means of helping fishermen to perform better from an economic viewpoint. Hence, there is still a need to define conservation objectives to be achieved by means of various fisheries management measures (e.g. quotas). However, formalising fishing rights can enable these objectives to be achieved in a more cost-effective manner. Consequently, economic sustainability should result in improved biological sustainability, since a well-functioning rights-based management system should lead to an increased interest on the part of fishermen and industry in the sustainability of this basic resource.

The most controversial aspect of these management systems is the transferability of fishing rights. It creates a market value for the use of resources which can be substantial and have significant repercussions on the development of the sector. The transferability of rights improves the efficacy of fishing enterprises. It also tends to intensify the concentration of quotas, licences, geographical distribution and fleet composition in the sector. It should be noted that such a concentration is also the result of the reduction in fishing possibilities. To counterbalance excessive concentration, rights-based management tools can be designed to restrict concentrations beyond a certain threshold, so as to preserve the geographical balance of fishing activities and to maintain the cultural, social and professional fabric, in particular by protecting small-scale inshore fishing activities. Nevertheless, the new measures for restricting the concentration of rights must respect Internal Market and competition rules. The Commission is obliged to ensure that the mechanisms implemented to restrict concentration and relocation comply with the rules of the Single Market and Community competition legislation.

Rights-based management systems in fisheries may also help to solve “high grading” * and discard problems which endanger resource sustainability and complicate assessment of the real level of catches. These problems existed already, independently of the rights-based management systems. The Commission has put forward a plan for eliminating discards. Similarly, increased control over fishing activities is an essential prerequisite for the ultimate success of any management system which is implemented.

Initiating a debate

Given the recognition by the CFP of the principle of “relative stability” for the allocation of fishing possibilities between Member States, which is intended to ensure “a predictable share of the stocks for each Member State”, the introduction of a Community-level rights-based management system, in which fishing rights would be freely tradable, seems unlikely. It is at national level that methods of management and transferability of fishing rights should be developed. Naturally, this will not prevent the exchange of quotas between Member States, as practised currently.

Discussions between the Commission, Member States and the fishing industry have revealed certain sensitive topics linked to the setting-up of rights-based management systems in fisheries. These include:

  • the issue of “relative stability”;
  • transferability of fishing rights, which may involve an excessive, and often irreversible, concentration of these rights;
  • initial allocation and period of validity of fishing rights;
  • possible adverse conditions for the small-scale fisheries sector when it coexists with industrial fishing enterprises;
  • “high grading” and discard problems;
  • the need for effective enforcement controls.

The Community debate, which is intended to be as broad as possible, should also cover:

  • an analysis of current national systems;
  • the improvement of their efficacy, by means of sharing best practices;
  • transnational elements such as seeking synergies between the Member State systems, or the introduction of the exchange of quotas between Member States.

These subjects should be tackled as part of a necessary and urgent debate on the future of rights-based management tools in fisheries. The Commission will contribute to this discussion by means of a series of studies and expert opinions. It plans to sum up the debate at the start of 2008, to assess the need for further action, and to draw up a report for the Council and the European Parliament, which will include, if and when appropriate, proposals or recommendations for follow-up.

Key terms used in the act
  • High grading: A practice involving the rejection of part of a catch for economic reasons, for example, when the cost of transporting the fish is higher than its market value or if the hold is reserved for the conservation or transport of species with a greater value

Reducing discards and by-catches

Reducing discards and by-catches

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Reducing discards and by-catches

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Reducing discards and by-catches

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 28 March 2007 on a policy to reduce unwanted by-catches and eliminate discards in European fisheries [COM (2007) 136 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

By-catches * and discards * are a serious problem in European fisheries. Two main reasons for discards of marine organisms into the sea are highlighted.

The first is economic. Fish are sold at very different prices depending on their size, quality and species. There are therefore strong economic incentives to discard fish, as the storage space onboard is used for high-value organisms.

The second reason is associated with certain existing regulatory instruments in the fisheries sector. This applies to the use of minimum landing sizes and also to total allowable catches (TACs).

Extent of discards

According to the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), the level of by-catch discards is, depending on the seas, fisheries and trawls, between 20 and 60 percent of the catch weight for the period 2003-05.

Consequences of discards

By-catches and their associated discards have serious consequences such as:

  • a waste of societal resources;
  • lower future catch opportunities with catching of juvenile species;
  • immediate reduction in the spawning biomass if mature individuals are caught;
  • negative impact on the marine ecosystem and on biodiversity.

In most cases, the fish or crustaceans caught and discarded into the sea will already be dead or have very little chance of survival.

Instruments and measures

A combination of instruments and measures to be adapted to each individual fishery is needed to reduce by-catches and gradually eliminate discards. The introduction of a discard ban puts the onus on fisheries by guiding them in the right direction. The practical and economic realities of the fisheries also need to be taken into account. The instruments of this new policy consist of:

  • incentives to improve selectivity of fishing gear;
  • real-time closure of high risk locations for by-catches;
  • flexibility in the use of quotas;
  • levying charges on by-catches and expropriating them;
  • preferential access to fisheries granted on the basis of by-catch track records;
  • introduction of information systems informing fleets where the by-catch risk is lowest.

In parallel, the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations will play an essential role in the implementation of additional measures to eliminate discards. Certain measures may benefit from the potential support of the European Fisheries Fund.

Monitoring

Despite the obvious difficulty in enforcing the discard ban and putting an end to illegal discards, it is vital for the Commission to enforce the rules to guarantee effective implementation.

Monitoring programmes play an important role and must be part of a general system involving:

  • quantified and systematic analysis of catch and landing figures;
  • the use of electronic logbooks for real-time reporting of catch composition;
  • monitoring and control of fishing gear;
  • stakeholder involvement and cooperation.

Furthermore, landed catches that cannot be sold should be carefully monitored to prevent them bringing illicit profits for fishing vessels. Data for all fleets should be compiled and analysed so that the necessary steps can be taken in the event of infringement of the rules.

Socio-economic repercussions

Generally speaking, implementation could result in net short-term cost increases and losses of income. Other repercussions may be linked to the closure of certain fishing areas forcing vessels to go elsewhere or travel further to fish.

Nevertheless, in the longer term, various economic benefits are to be expected, associated with larger and healthier stocks.

Background

This communication discusses the problem of discards into the sea as a priority and outlines the main measures to be implemented to reduce by-catches and eliminate discards into the sea. From 2008, regulations will be drawn up to cover all Community fisheries.

Key terms used in the act
  • By-catch: The accidental catching of non-target species or species that do not meet certain criteria for fisheries, including marine mammals, birds, turtles and other marine species.
  • Discards: The proportion of catches representing the total organic matter of animal origin that is thrown or emptied into the sea for whatever reason. Plant matter and post-harvest waste, such as offal, are not included. Discarded animals may be dead or alive.

Destructive fishing practices in the high seas and the protection of ecosystems

Destructive fishing practices in the high seas and the protection of ecosystems

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Destructive fishing practices in the high seas and the protection of ecosystems

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Destructive fishing practices in the high seas and the protection of ecosystems

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 17 October 2007 on destructive fishing practices in the high seas and the protection of vulnerable deep sea ecosystems [COM(2007) 604 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The Commission is proposing an ambitious strategy for the protection of fragile ecosystems in the high seas based on the precautionary principle and on prior impact assessment. This also responds to the appeal launched by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in Resolution 61/105 to regulate fisheries in vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems.

Destructive fishing practices in the high seas

The biodiversity and equilibrium of deep-sea marine ecosystems are at threat from human activity. Bottom fishing practices and gears (bottom trawls, dredges, bottom-set gillnets, etc.) may cause irreversible damage to vulnerable marine habitats. Activities such as the production of hydrocarbons, laying of submarine cables or waste dumping, etc. pose other threats.

This finding is based on studies which demonstrated damage to deep coral reefs in the Northeast Atlantic, the West Atlantic and the Tasman Sea.

These activities are also likely to put achievement of the objectives of the 2002 Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development at risk.

Action of the European Union

The action of the European Union (EU) is guided by recommendations made in United Nations Resolution 61/105 for the protection of the vulnerable deep-sea marine environment. This resolution, to which the Commission made an active contribution, calls on Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and States to adopt and implement measures by 31 December 2008, in accordance with the precautionary principle, ecosystem approaches and international law. These measures define a management system for bottom fishing in the high seas which is based on:

  • impact assessment prior to authorisation of fishing activities;
  • identification of vulnerable marine ecosystems through research and data collection;
  • closure of sensitive areas.

This strategy proposes the ways to implement these recommendations and to go further.

The EU must provide impetus on a global scale for protection of vulnerable deep-sea marine ecosystems, in particular by stimulating international debate. It will support creation of a report on the progress made in the fight against destructive fishing practices which will be presented to the United Nations in 2009. In addition, the EU will further assist the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in compiling and disseminating reliable information on the measures adopted by the Member States. This information will be used as a foundation for technical guidelines for deep sea fisheries. Similarly, collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Regional Marine Conventions will help identify the marine habitats under threat.

RFMOs already exist in the majority of high-seas areas. Ecosystem protection measures have been adopted in these areas, but they must be complemented by a systematic and preventive approach for managing environmental risks. To achieve a high and effective level of protection against damage related to fishing activities, the RFMOs may apply stricter rules to reinforce the protection.

Before the creation of an RFMO, interim measures may be implemented by the States for the conservation and management of zones affected by bottom fishing. The EU is backing this approach as part of ongoing negotiations on the implementation of a new RFMO in the South Pacific. It is also undertaking to help develop interim measures in the Indian Ocean in preparation for an agreement in 2008 and transpose them into Community legislation. In areas where no RFMO is yet in place, the EU is encouraging the launching of negotiations between the parties interested in establishing these organisations.

In areas of the high seas not regulated by an RFMO, bottom fishing activities by Community vessels should be governed by the regulation accompanying this Communication (see Related Acts). This Regulation, which is scheduled for adoption in 2008, implements the United Nations recommendations in respect of these vessels. It stipulates that Community vessels must obtain a special fishing permit for bottom fishing in these areas, which will only be issued after an impact assessment. This should assess the risk of adverse effects on vulnerable marine ecosystems caused by the fishing in question on the basis of detailed operation plans. It also lays down the requirements relating to monitoring and control, for example the presence of on-board observers, and satellite monitoring (VMS) provisions. In addition, it proposes banning the use of bottom fishing gears at depths greater than 1 000 metres. Vessels authorised to fish should also inform the competent authorities of sites with vulnerable ecosystems which they may discover during their operations so that they can be protected if necessary.

Background

The commitment made in Johannesburg positions the issue of destructive fishing practices in a global context. Fisheries must no longer be considered in isolation, but must be fully integrated into a broader sustainability perspective, including the high seas. This is also the approach taken by the Commission’s current proposals for an integrated maritime policy. The EU is determined to follow the principles established in United Nations Resolution 61/105 on the sustainability of fisheries adopted in December 2006.

Related Acts

Council Regulation (EC) No 734/2008 of 15 July 2008 on the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the high seas from the adverse impacts of bottom fishing gears [Official Journal L 201 of 30.070.2008].

Community framework relating to scientific data and advice

Community framework relating to scientific data and advice

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Community framework relating to scientific data and advice

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Community framework relating to scientific data and advice

Document or Iniciative

Council Regulation (EC) No 199/2008 dated 25 February 2008 concerning the establishment of a Community framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and support for scientific advice regarding the Common Fisheries Policy.

Summary

This Regulation establishes a Community framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and to obtain the necessary scientific advice for the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

These biological, technical, environmental and socio-economic data relates to fleets and their activities as well as catches and the impact of fishing activities on the marine ecosystem. The data concerns all fishing activities, namely: commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries *, aquaculture activities and industries processing fisheries products.

Framework for the collection, management and use of data

Multi-annual national and Community programmes constitute the framework for the collection, management and use of data. They are adopted for a period of three years.

The Commission, assisted by the Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture, establishes the Community programmes. On this basis, Member States develop national programmes, consisting of:

  • Multiannual sampling programmes which enable evaluation of the fisheries sector and activities based on biological, ecosystem and socio-economic data. Collection relates to vessels and companies in the sector, at landing locations or by consulting registers and economic data;
  • A data collection programme on board commercial and recreational fishing vessels, if necessary. Observation activities at sea are undertaken on board the vessels by scientists or, for practical or security reasons, by the vessel’s crew for a self-sampling programme;
  • A programme of research surveys at sea in order to measure the impact of fishing on the environment and the abundance and distribution of fisheries resources;
  • A programme for managing and using the data for scientific purposes.

Member States provide protocols and methods for the collection and analysis of data in their national programmes.

Member States cooperate with each other and with third-party countries if they are in the same marine region. For this reason, Member States coordinate their national programmes, particularly by Regional Coordination Meetings organised by the Commission, so as to avoid a duplication of data collection.

The Commission approves the national programmes and monitors their implementation. Both are based on assessments by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) as regards compliance and scientific and technical execution of national programmes. The Commission also estimates the associated costs. In cases of non-compliance, Member States amend their national programmes when requested by the Commission.

The European Union (EU) contributes 50% of the finance for data collection. A maximum sum of €300 million is earmarked for the period from 2007 to 2013, within the framework of Community financial measures for the implementation of the CFP.

The Commission may suspend or recover financial assistance if the execution of the national programme does not comply with the stipulated rules, such as compliance with deadlines, control of quality, and validation and transmission of data collected. A reduction of aid is also stipulated under certain conditions, but this is proportionate to the degree of non-compliance and must not exceed 25% of the annual cost of the national programme.

Management and use of data within the framework of the CFP

The data collected are stored in secure computerised national databases. These data, whose quality is controlled by Member States, are not only primary data * but also detailed data * and aggregated data * which results from processing the primary data.

Transmission of these data to end-users for scientific analysis is regulated. These data may also be used to support discussions in Regional Advisory Councils within the framework of the CFP for policy development and for scientific publications by researchers. Data-processing methods can be provided.

The deadline for data transmission depends on the type of use, which needs to be specified in the request. In certain cases, Member States can refuse to provide these data. The Commission can examine refusals. If they are not justified, the Member State must provide the data to the end-user within one month. Should they fail to do this, the refusal may constitute a reason for reducing financial assistance. End-users may also have their access to data restricted or prohibited if they do not comply with certain obligations.

The data collected as part of research surveys at sea are transmitted to the international scientific organisations and to scientific committees for the relevant Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO).

Support for scientific advice

National experts are encouraged to participate in RFMO and international scientific authorities’ meetings, in which the Community participates.

For this purpose, Member States and the Commission work together to improve the reliability of scientific advice and the quality of RFMO programmes and working methods within a context of openness and impartiality.

Background

This Community framework is the result of an extensive consultation with Member States, national scientific institutes responsible for data collection and key end-users, such as the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

It is part of the EU’s integrated maritime policy and replaces the Community framework implemented in 2000 with effect from 1 January 2009.

Key terms in the act
  • Primary data: data associated with vessels, natural or legal persons or individual samples.
  • Detailed data: data based on primary data, in a form which does not permit the identification, either directly or indirectly, of natural or legal persons.
  • Aggregated data: summarised data established from primary or detailed data for specific analytical purposes.
  • Recreational fisheries: non-commercial fishing activities exploiting living aquatic resources for recreation or sport.

References

Act Entry into force Timescale for transposition into Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 199/2008

12.3.2008

OJ L 60, 5.3.2008

Related Acts

Commission Decision 2010/93/EU of 18 December 2009 adopting a multiannual Community programme for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector for the period 2011-2013 [Official Journal L 41 of 16.2.2010].
This Decision establishes a Community programme for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector for a period of three years. The programme contains four modules and defines precision levels and sampling intensities. This Decision will replace Decision 2008/949/EC on 1 January 2011.

Commission Decision 2008/949/EC of 6 November 2008 adopting a multiannual Community programme pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 199/2008 establishing a Community framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and support for scientific advice regarding the common fisheries policy [Official Journal L 346 of 23.12.2008].
The multiannual Community programme covers the collection of information with a view to using it to carry out scientific analysis, and the management of this information. The programme contains four modules and defines levels of precision and sampling intensities. The modules are as follows:

  • module of evaluation of the fishing sector;
  • module of evaluation of the economic situation of the aquaculture and processing industry sectors;
  • module of evaluation of the effects of the fishing sector on the marine ecosystem;
  • module for management and use of the data covered by the data collection framework.

Strategy against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Strategy against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Strategy against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Topics

These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Maritime Affairs And Fisheries > Management of fisheries resources and the environment

Strategy against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions of 17 October 2007 on a new strategy for the Community to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing [COM(2007) 601 final – not published in the Official Journal].

Summary

The European Union (EU) is proposing a comprehensive strategy to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing in Community and international waters. Such fishing practices threaten the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and damage the sustainability of fish stocks, marine biodiversity, fragile ecosystems, law-abiding fishermen and the coastal populations affected. This international scourge has environmental, economic and social consequences.

The EU plays a crucial role, as it is one of the key players on the fisheries market in terms of both production and consumption. The quantity of illegal products imported into the EU each year is estimated at 500 000 tonnes worth 1.1 billion.

The scope of the combat against IUU fishing covers:

  • infringements to rules on management and conservation of fisheries resources in national and international waters;
  • fishing activities in high-seas areas covered by a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) carried out by vessels which contravene the rules of the organisation. These are vessels without nationality or registered in a country not party to the RFMO;
  • fishing activities carried out in high-seas areas not covered by an RFMO in a manner inconsistent with state responsibilities for the conservation of resources under international law.

The EU must fight against certain factors supporting the perpetuation of IUU fishing, namely:

  • profitability. Due to low operating costs and the substantial resultant profits. It is also explained by the overcapacity of certain fishing fleets compared to the fishing possibilities available;
  • national and international loopholes of which illegal operators can take advantage. These loopholes involve flag registration, cooperation between States and international bodies, and monitoring, control and surveillance systems.

Community action

Although some progress has been made under the 2002 action plan, IUU fishing is far from eradicated. Through this strategy, the Commission is supporting the preparation of international rules and setting up of RFMOs responsible for implementing them. It intends to continue the monitoring, control and surveillance of activities at sea as well as identification of IUU operators. Better application of these rules and of deterrent sanctions for infringements is also required.

This comprehensive strategy encompasses all fishing and related activities linked to IUU practices (harvesting, transshipment, processing, landing, trade, etc.). It targets the whole supply chain and provides an answer to the problems caused by these activities at Community level as well as regionally and internationally.

Action against IUU fishing must fully integrate the trade dimension. In this respect, the Commission anticipates closing the doors of Europe to illegal products through the launch of a regime of control by the port State, under which fish or fisheries products must be certified by the flag State before landing or import into the EU.

To address the issue of “flags of non-compliance”, the EU could act unilaterally to offset the inadequacy of multilateral action. A Community list of vessels responsible for IUU fishing and the Member States hosting them could be drawn up.

The Commission intends to improve compliance with international and Community laws by EU vessels and operators. It is planning to encourage Member States and EU nationals to ensure proper implementation of the CFP and to improve control and enforcement measures. Deterrent sanctions for IUU activities in Community waters and for EU operators responsible for this type of fishing anywhere in the world are necessary.

Better cooperation will enable investigation of IUU activities. A high degree of coordination and regular exchange of information should be guaranteed with the support of the Community Fisheries Control Agency. At international level, the EU must contribute to the efforts, in particular of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), to set up a global register of fishing vessels and an international network dedicated to monitoring, control and surveillance. At Community level, the EU must improve coordination between Member States’ control authorities.

The EU must intensify the fight against fishing in the high seas within the framework of regional, bilateral and multilateral relations. The EU strategy to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing depends on various parties:

  • the RFMOs. The measures adopted by the RFMOs must be reinforced along with coordination between these organisations;
  • coastal developing countries. To improve the management and monitoring of fishing activities, Community financial support to these countries must be intensified. The impact of the IUU regulation on developing countries and accompanying measures must be assessed;
  • the International Labour Organisation (ILO). International conventions relating to work in the fisheries sector or the safety of fishing vessels must be signed by more States. It would also be appropriate to study the possibility of transposing this legislation into Community law.

Background

This Communication is part of a broad international consensus expressed in the decisions of the FAO, the United Nations General Assembly and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on the need to adopt a global approach to eradicate IUU fishing. It follows on from the 2002 Commission action plan and the Resolution of the European Parliament of 15 February 2007. It is, along with the proposal for a Regulation which should be adopted during 2008, one of the first steps towards an integrated maritime policy for the EU for sustainable use of the seas.

Related Acts

Council Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008 of 29 September 2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, amending Regulations (EEC) No 2847/93, (EC) No 1936/2001 and (EC) No 601/2004 and repealing Regulations (EC) No 1093/94 and (EC) No 1447/1999 [OJ L 286, 29.10.2008].