The Revision of the EU Fisheries Control System

Background

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) objectives are to ensure that fishing and aquaculture activities are environmentally sustainable and consistently managed to achieve long-term economic, social and employment benefits. However, its success depends very much on the implementation of an effective control and enforcement system. Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009, often called the Fisheries Control Regulation, was created and came into force in 2010 to provide a system of monitoring, inspection and enforcement for fishing operations in EU waters and activities of the EU fleet globally.

However, there are significant weaknesses in the implementation of this system, and since its publication in 2020 new technologies have become available to assist with control. These loopholes were identified in the current legislation as well as its implementation by the European Court of Auditors and they have called for more efforts in European Union (EU) fisheries control.

European Commission Proposal

On 30 May 2018, the European Commission published a proposal for the revision of the fisheries control system to address these loopholes.

The Commission’s proposal introduces requirements for more complete fisheries data collection and publication, including the introduction of an electronic tracking system for all EU fishing vessels, fully digitized reporting by all vessels of their catches with electronic logbooks and landing declarations, and rules for recreational fishers to declare all catches. It proposes improvements to seafood traceability through digitized identification and of all fishery and aquaculture products along the supply chain, whether from EU fisheries or imported. It proposes a revision to enforcement rules as well as proposing a strengthened point system. The proposal also revises the mandate of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), to fully align its objectives with the CFP and to upgrade its inspection powers, and Regulation 1005/2008 on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, to introduce a digital database for catch certifications for imported fishery products.

European Parliament Review

The rapporteur for this proposal is Clara Aguilera, Member of the European Parliament and party to the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, who is responsible for drafting a report for the lead Committee in the European Parliament, the Fisheries Committee. Shadow rapporteurs will draft opinions on the report presented by Clara Aguilera. For example, the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety draft opinion. Latest information on the timeline in the European Parliament can be found here.

Council of Ministers Progress Report

On 29 June, the Croatian Presidency issued a progress report, relating to ongoing negotiations between Member States on the passage of the Control Regulation. Addressing the first two blocks of the Regulation (Articles 1-68), the report is accompanied by a final compromise text, which received broad support for a large number of provisions. However, certain issues remain for further discussion, as the views of delegations continue to diverge, or some delegations consider their requests not to be sufficiently reflected.

The EU Fisheries Control Coalition’s response to the progress report can be found here.