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Compliance work plan and scoreboard
In 2003, the Commission proposed a compliance work plan for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), intended to ensure a more effective, uniform and equitable application of the CFP. The plan focuses on three areas: the first relates to improving cooperation and coordination between the Member States, the Commission and the fisheries sector; the second on improving transparency, essentially via the publication of a scoreboard on the degree of compliance by the Member States in their application of the CFP and the third area consists of measures streamlining the means available to the Commission to secure compliance with the rules of the CFP.
Communication from the Commission - Compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy "Compliance work plan and scoreboard" [COM(2003) 344 final - Not published in the Official Journal].
Before presenting its compliance work plan, the Commission first assessed the degree of compliance in the application of the CFP. The assessment shows that the Member States have made progress. This is borne out by the introduction of vessel monitoring systems (VMS's); more direct participation by the fisheries sector in the CFP; the progress made in terms of the means of control allocated and the implementation of comprehensive control systems by some Member States.
Deficiencies in the application of the CFP
However, some shortcomings continue to exist. These can be attributed in particular to the following:
- delays in national authorities implementing of Community requirements concerning fisheries controls;
- deficient application of restrictions on catches (TACs and quotas) and the fishing effort (number of days at sea);
- the fact that the capacity of the Member States' fishing fleet is not adapted to fishing opportunities (contrary to Article 11 of Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002);
- shortcomings in the national control systems and irregularities in the collection of the data communicated to the Commission;
- shortcomings in the data sent to the Community fleet register (engine power).
Continuing to fish after quotas have been exhausted generates fishing mortality for the stocks concerned throughout the year at a level much higher than allowed. This explains why the mortality rate for some stocks (cod, hake, etc.) has not fallen in proportion to these restrictions. In addition, inspection and monitoring by the Member States is inadequate and the collection of data is unsatisfactory. These have to be improved.
Compliance work plan
In order solve these deficiencies, the Commission is proposing a compliance work plan intended to achieve a more effective, uniform and equitable application of the rules of the CFP by all the Member States. It focuses on three areas:
Cooperation with and between Member States
Cooperation with the Member States within the Management Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture and the fisheries control expert group should be enhanced. In particular, the rules on the fishing fleet should be examined and deficiencies observed in the Member States' inspection and control systems should be raised. These forums are also responsible for monitoring the implementation of joint inspection programmes. The Commission will take responsibility for coordinating its activities with those of the Member States.
Cooperation with the sector
The work plan is also intended to provide support for the fisheries sector. The economic viability of the sector depends on the health of fish stocks and on compliance with rules. However, fishermen are unwilling to apply them for fear of unfair competition from other market participants who are not complying with the rules. For this reason, it is not only essential that a more level playing field in terms of control is guaranteed, but also that the sector is informed on the degrees of compliance achieved.
The forums intended to deal with these issues are the Advisory Committee for Fisheries and Aquaculture(ACFA) and the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). They make it possible to improve understanding of the CFP in the fisheries sector, to seek the opinion of the sector on drafts of legislative proposals, to present compliance scoreboards (see below) and to examine any complaints from the sectors concerning unfair competition resulting from the lack of a level playing field in the application of the rules by the Member States.
To improve transparency, the Commission has drawn up a compliance scoreboard, which it publishes each year. The scoreboard, which is published on the internet, makes it possible to compare the Member States' compliance with their obligations under the CFP, in particular as regards:
- conservation of fisheries resources;
- fleet management;
- structural policy;
- control and enforcement.
The compliance scoreboard also provides an overview of the infringement procedures launched by the Commission and the number and subject matter of missions carried out by its inspectors.
It is proposed that the Commission and the Member States adopt the same priorities in terms of inspection and control. The first priority relates to stocks that exceed the biological limits in certain ICES divisions. For such stocks, recovery plans will be drawn up, accompanied by specific monitoring programmes, coordinated and enhanced by the Member States. The Commission will carry out inspections, possibly without the aid of national inspectors, in order to monitor implementation of the programmes.
Secondly, the Commission inspectors will verify the Member States' compliance concerning:
- the application of restrictions on fishing effort in the North Sea, the west of Scotland and Rockall ICES divisions;
- the application of conservation measures for highly migratory species;
- compliance with the requirements for keeping a log book in the Mediterranean Sea;
- the effectiveness of the measures taken to monitor engine power.
Thirdly, the Commission will cooperate with third countries:
- via bilateral agreements;
- within regional fisheries organisations;
- within the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations as regards illicit fishing. This cooperation also requires coordination of measures at Community level.
Lastly, the Commission will aid in extending VMS to include small vessels and will improve its implementing provisions. It also intends to provide support for pilot projects relating to remote sensing and the electronic logbook.
Transfer of tasks
The Commission has decided to delegate other tasks to the Member States in order to devote more time to the priorities mentioned above. This is the case for the monitoring of compliance with the rules in the NAFO and NEAFC zones, which come under the responsibility of the Member States in accordance with the basic regulation.
In accordance with the basic regulation, the Member States must deprive those responsible for committing infringements of any economic benefit thus gained and also deter them from committing any further infringements of this kind in the future. To obtain compliance with the rules, the Commission makes use of the means granted to it under the CFP. It may in particular:
- take preventative measures if fishing activities constitute a serious threat to the conservation of resources, particularly owing to landings that exceed quotas;
- carry out deductions from a Member State's future fishing opportunities if it has exceeded the fishing opportunities granted to it;
- suspend financial aid under structural measures, with the exception of funds intended for the dismantling of vessels, if a Member State's fleet capacity exceeds the limits imposed on it;
- launch formal infringement procedures where deficiencies are identified in the national control and enforcement systems jeopardising certain vulnerable stocks.
In general terms, the Commission acts in accordance with the following guidelines:
- to facilitate compliance with the rules by actively supporting the Member States and by ensuring cooperation between them;
- to increase transparency as regards compliance with the rules, particularly through the publication of a compliance scoreboard;
- to give priority to inspections concerning the Member States' application of the rules of the CFP for certain vulnerable stocks (particularly as regards inspections carried out without the assistance of national inspectors);
- to request that the Member States carry out an administrative inquiry into the illegal landings of cod and hake;
- to limit the number of referrals to the Court of Justice in the event of non-compliance with conservation and control measures and of deficiencies in the national control and enforcement systems that fundamentally affect the effectiveness of these measures;
- to make use of the commercial, trade and tax data to identify such illegal landings.
The compliance work plan and scoreboard form part of the monitoring of the reform of the CFP.
They form part of a convergence process initiated by the action plan for cooperation in enforcement which ultimately led to the creation of a joint inspection structure: the Community Fisheries Control Agency. Even though the Community Agency has been set up in the meantime, the compliance scoreboard continues to be published every year. It makes it possible to improve transparency, thereby encouraging all the Member States to enforce the rules of the CFP.