Brussels, 6 June 2014
Fisheries: Commission steps up action on control by adopting French plan
The European Commission has today further strengthened its commitment to improving fisheries control in Europe. It has adopted an action plan agreed with France to adapt the French fisheries control system to European standards. The plan sets out a number of measures to improve French fisheries control to ensure it complies with the requirements of the EU's fisheries Control Regulation1 which entered into force in 2010.
The action plan focuses on the French catch registration system in order to ensure that the data available to national controllers is complete, reliable and timely. The development of IT tools and the streamlining of control procedures will secure the efficiency of the measures proposed.
The action plan was drawn up following a European Commission audit looking into the compliance of the French fisheries control system with the European regulation. The audit highlighted in particular the administrative complexity, the lack of full validation and of cross-checks of data, and insufficient exchange of control documents with other Member States. The timeliness and accuracy of catch reporting was also highlighted as an issue. Catch data are reported by fishermen so that the control authorities can monitor fishing quotas and thus help to prevent overfishing.
Strong controls for sustainable fisheries
This action plan is the latest step in a structured Commission approach to address deficiencies in fisheries control. Without effective control and enforcement systems in Member States, the Commission's ambitious sustainability goals would risk not being achieved and the health of Europe's fish stocks would be jeopardised for future generations. An effective control system also ensures a level playing field for fishermen across Europe so that they know that all fishermen play by the same rules.
Action plans are designed as to address systemic organisational problems, while other enforcement means are used to deal with more isolated issues. The Commission is working with Member States individually to determine what steps need to be taken to reach those standards. Action plans have already been adopted and put in place with Spain, Malta, Italy, and Latvia whilst three others are in the pipeline for Portugal, Bulgaria and Romania.
Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said: "Respect of commonly agreed rules is an absolute necessity for sustainable fisheries. Without effective controls and proper enforcement our Fisheries Policy rules remain paper tigers. Member States have themselves voted the rules and I am happy that we are making good progress in getting them correctly applied by all."
Fisheries rules and control systems are agreed at EU level, but implemented and carried out by the national authorities and inspectors of EU Member States.
To enforce the EU's Common Fisheries Policy rules, there is a European control system in place, designed to ensure that only the allowed quantities of fish are caught, to collect the necessary data for managing fishing opportunities, and to ensure the rules are applied to fishermen across the EU in the same manner.
The system is set out in the EU's Control Regulation which entered into force on 1 January 2010 and which thoroughly modernised the EU's approach to fisheries control. It provides for a series of new instruments to assist Member States in implementing the agreed rules, including system auditing and action plans such as the one unveiled today for France.
Together with the EU's IUU Regulation2 - which focuses on combatting illegal fishing in particular when entering the EU and ensures the legality of imported fisheries products- the Control Regulation forms a strong and consistent control system that ensures a level playing field both for fish caught in EU waters and imported fish.
For more information
Control Regulation: COUNCIL REGULATION (EC) No 1224/2009