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Brussels, 14 November 2008

Fisheries: Commission proposes radical overhaul of control framework

The European Commission has today proposed a new Council Regulation recasting the EU fisheries control system. The result would be a completely modernized system for inspection, monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement of Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) rules throughout the market chain, from catch to the retailer. Harmonised inspection procedures and higher standards would ensure uniform implementation of control policy at national level, while taking account of the diversity and specific characteristics of different fleets. There will be measures to promote a culture of compliance throughout the sector, including simplification of the regulatory framework, and the introduction of harmonised deterrent sanctions. The capacity of the Commission to intervene to ensure that the rules of the CFP are being effectively implemented and enforced by the Member States will also be strengthened. In general, all aspects of the control and monitoring of fisheries activities would be simplified and made more efficient by the new rules.

European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg commented, "Control and enforcement of catch limits should be the cornerstone of the Common Fisheries Policy. Instead it is our Achille's heel, undermining the credibility of all our other management measures. Both the Commission and the Court of Auditors have diagnosed the problem: with this proposal, the Commission puts forward its solution. The future of sustainable fisheries requires us to replace a system which is inefficient, expensive and complex with one which can really produce results. I believe this proposal will give all the actors involved the tools they need to do the job."

Control and monitoring of fishing activities

Under the new control system, all Member States would have to inspect activities along the whole production chain of fishery products including landing, processing, transport and marketing. The use of modern inspection technology, such as the satellite-based Vessel Monitoring System, electronic logbook and electronic reporting of catch data, is to be extended. A comprehensive traceability system for fisheries products will be introduced which would enable all fish and fisheries products to be tracked throughout the market chain.

Measures such as risk-based analysis to target control activities where they are most productive, and comprehensive cross-checks of all relevant data would contribute to increasing the efficiency of controls.

Other new areas covered include the monitoring by Member States of certain fleet management criteria, such as fishing capacity and engine power. General standards are laid down for the specific control measures related to recovery and multiannual plans, marine protected areas and discards. A new Sighting and Observer scheme will also be introduced.

Inspection powers

The proposed Regulation widens the scope of inspections between Member States national fishery inspectors, as it allows for inspections of fishing vessels to take place outside the waters or territory of the inspecting Member State. Also, independent inspections by Commission fishery inspectors will be possible without prior notice to the Member State concerned.


The proposed Regulation would introduce harmonised deterrent sanctions across the EU, based on the economic value of the catches concerned. Another major innovation is the proposal for a penalty point system for infringements committed by masters, operators or beneficial owners of a fishing permit, which would lead ultimately to them being automatically deprived of their permits once they had committed a certain number of offences. Measures are also foreseen against Member States which do not adhere to the CFP rules and where this has caused harm to fish stocks. Such measures include the possibility to suspend or reduce EU financial assistance, the closure of fisheries, the deduction of quotas, and the refusal of quota transfers and/or exchanges.

Cooperation among Member States

The Regulation would establish a system of mutual assistance and systematic exchange of control-related information between Member States. It also introduces a new approach to the management and communication of control data via secure national websites with remote access for the Commission.

Coordinating authority

The inspection powers of the Community Fisheries Control Agency would be extended by the Regulation to enable it to assist with the uniform implementation of the new control system.

Under the CFP, control and enforcement are the exclusive competence of the Member States. The current proposal also reaffirms the distinctive roles of the Commission and the Member States in order to avoid overlaps and ensure that the Commission focuses on its core activity of controlling and verifying implementation of the CFP rules by Member States. The new regulation will replace the existing legal framework laid down in Council Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93.

See also: Memo/08/709

Further information and documents can be found at :

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