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Brussels, 22 April 2009

Fisheries: Commission welcomes Parliament's support for a new control system for EU fisheries

The European Commission has welcomed the support provided by the European Parliament today to its proposal for a new fisheries control system designed to ensure compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Control lies at the heart of the CFP, because the policy's credibility depends on effective implementation and enforcement of the agreed rules. Last November, the Commission proposed a root-and-branch overhaul of the existing control system to have a new, more efficient system which would foster a culture of compliance with fisheries rules and create a level playing field for Europe's fishermen. The Parliament tabled several amendments today, but retained most of the key elements of the Commission's proposal.

European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg said: "The European Parliament sent a clear signal today by adopting a report which acknowledges the need for a new control regulation, supports our proposed new instrument in principle and generally constitutes a significant contribution to a truly efficient control system. The new system would establish a global and integrated approach to control, focusing on all aspects of the Common Fisheries Policy and covering the whole chain of catch, landing, transport, processing and marketing – from catch to consumer ".

In its report voted today, the EP underlined that, for a control system to be effective, everybody has to be treated equally – fishermen, processors, buyers and other people involved in the chain of production. To this end, the new system establishes a level playing field for the industry by covering all aspects, from capture through processing to the market.

It is important to the Commission that a revised Control system covers all aspects of the CFP. In that respect, the Commission welcomes the fact that a definition of "recreational fisheries" is provided for and that the Parliament foresees that where recreational fishery is found to have a significant impact, catches should count against the quotas. Moreover, the EP agreed with the Commission that the marketing of catches from recreational fishing should be prohibited, except for philanthropic purposes.

Another positive note for the Commission is the support given by the EP to the establishment of a culture of compliance, whereby all parts of the industry understand and accept that playing by the rules is in their own long-term interest. By introducing a penalty point system and seeking to harmonise sanctions, the new rules will introduce fairness into the penalty system and give it proper teeth.

Finally the Commission is satisfied that the EP agrees in principle with its definition of roles and responsibilities between the Member States and the Commission. Under the CFP, control and enforcement are the exclusive competence of the Member States. The measures accepted by the EP, such as the introduction of a cross compliance system, will enable the Commission to ensure that all Member States equally implement CFP rules.

The new Control Regulation is to be discussed and voted by the Council of Ministers in June, for possible final adoption in the second half of 2009. It is one of three elements that make up the new control framework. Together with the Regulation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the Regulation concerning authorisations for fishing activities of Community fishing vessels outside Community waters, it will produce a comprehensive and fair system that will cover all players.

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