PECH Committee votes to strengthen and modernise EU fisheries control, but falls short on REM

Date: 26 January 2021

On 25 January, the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee (PECH) voted on key compromise amendments to the EU fisheries Control Regulation, the cornerstone of how fisheries are controlled and monitored in the EU.

The vote covered compromise amendments (other individual amendments will be voted on February 1st), which address the most important aspects of the EU’s fisheries control regime and mark an inflection point for the sustainability of EU fisheries. Nearly all of the rapporteur’s proposed compromise amendments were adopted by the majority of the PECH Committee, in a vote which was difficult to predict. 

Despite the disappointing vote to not require proven technologies such as onboard cameras to improve fisheries management and compliance, overall, the voting outcome will help to strengthen and modernise EU fisheries control, whilst ensuring sustainable management and protection of EU biodiversity. 

In next Monday’s voting session, the Committee is called upon to go one step further and support individual amendments calling for the mandatory introduction of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) on EU vessels. These onboard cameras and sensors will ensure the EU is successful in achieving fully-documented, transparent and sustainable fisheries, as laid out in the Common Fisheries Policy. 

The Committee’s final vote on the full package of compromise and individual amendments will take place on February 5th.

On behalf of the The EU Fisheries Control Coalition, Vanya Vulperhorst, Campaign Director Illegal Fishing and Transparency at Oceana in Europe said, “We warmly welcome the requirements to report all fish catches and to install location trackers on all EU vessels, including smaller ones. MEPs have listened to small-scale fishers, who represent 75% of the EU’s total fleet, and understood that these systems increase safety and transparency, as well as improve fisheries management and support a level playing field for all fishers.”

On behalf of the The EU Fisheries Control Coalition, Nick Goetschalckx, Fisheries Lawyer at ClientEarth said, “Fisheries MEPs have taken an important step towards improved transparency by unanimously requiring Member States to annually report the amount of fisheries controls, infringements, and sanctions. We encourage MEPs to increase their pace in the next vote and secure true environmental accountability by also removing the Member States’ unlimited veto on making their fisheries information public.”

On behalf of the The EU Fisheries Control Coalition, Marta Marrero Martin, Director of Ocean Governance at The Nature Conservancy said, “By voting against onboard cameras and net sensors, the PECH Committee has ignored the calibre of data these internationally-proven technologies deliver, and thus the benefits to long-term security of ocean ecosystems upon which our coastal communities and blue economy depend. We call on MEPs to reconsider their position on REM  ahead of next week’s vote on February 1st.”