We can only achieve sustainable fisheries and healthy ocean ecosystems in the European Union if the Common Fisheries Policy is implemented and the rules followed. For this, we need a robust fisheries control system that will bring transparency to our seafood supply chains.
However, with the majority of assessed EU fish populations currently overfished, and many more of unknown status, the EU is lagging behind in its efforts to ensure that fishing fleets are properly monitored and controlled. Key to this is the absence of an effective monitoring system which is proven in its ability to collect the reliable and timely catch data needed to inform responsible management decisions and ensure that recommended fishing limits are set, and enforced, at sustainable levels for all EU fish populations.
As the future of the EU’s fisheries control system is debated in the European Parliament, and by representatives of Member States, the EU Fisheries Control Coalition is working to strengthen existing proposals made by the European Commission for these critical data gaps to be filled through the introduction of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM). Specifically, in the future Control Regulation, the EU must:
1. Install cameras on all EU vessels above 12m in length; and
2. Install cameras on a percentage of small-scale vessels identified as posing a high/very high risk of non-compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy.
REM, consisting of on-board cameras, net sensors and systems incorporating data storage, not only discourages rule-breaking because fishing activities are monitored, but also adds scientific legitimacy to logbook data. This can inform fish stock assessments, efforts to mitigate the bycatch of protected species and, ultimately, management decisions that successfully encourage stock recovery and sustainable practices within the EU fleet. After 20 years of extensive testing, the technology is widely regarded as the most effective fisheries monitoring system available, and has subsequently been implemented in numerous fisheries worldwide. In Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA, this cost-effective system has not only enhanced regulatory decision-making, but has also strengthened trust between managers and fishers, bringing a robust and shared understanding about what is happening on the water.
On Thursday, 15 October 2020, the EU Fisheries Control Coalition hosted the second instalment in a series of online webinars examining the challenges and opportunities surrounding the introduction of REM in the EU. Chaired by Grace O’Sullivan MEP, and specifically aimed at EU decision-makers, this event provided the opportunity to learn from experts using the technology and ask questions on key issues, such as trust, data privacy and cost.
Our panel brought together leading experts from NGOs (Marta Marrero Martin, The Nature Conservancy), the EU fishing industry (Gerard van Balsfoort, Europêche), national experts (Mike Gerner, formerly Australian Fisheries Management Authority) and the Canadian fishing industry (Wes Erikson, Halibut Advisory Board, British Columbia).
During the 1 ½ hour event, the Coalition premiered its new short film on REM, demonstrating the practicality of implementation and its benefits. This was followed by four short presentations and a lively panel debate.
To watch the webinar, and also view our new short film on REM, please click on the recordings below.