EC clarifies rules for new, simplified fisheries data program

Published on
August 22, 2016

The European Commission (EC) has issued guidance to those EU member states responsible for data collection in the fisheries sector to give them a clearer idea on how to build effective data collection plans for the next four years and comply with bloc rules.

Under the new EU data collection program, member states have until 31 October 2016 to prepare national “workplans” setting out how they intend to collect fisheries data in the period 2017-2020. Scientific experts will assess these strategies before the Commission gives its approval.

According to the EC, the streamlined rules will pave the way for gathering more and better data to help close persistent gaps in the knowledge about fish stocks. They will give scientists and decision makers a better idea of how fisheries are affecting marine and maritime ecosystems, while also providing more data on Mediterranean and long distance fisheries.

Reliable fisheries data are needed to assess the health of fish stocks and the marine environment and meet the EU's objective of ensuring sustainable fisheries by 2020 at the latest. Through its promotion of fisheries data collection, the EC has increased funding of data collection activities under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) since 2014.

Fisheries data are collected in a number of ways: in ports or at sea by observers on board commercial fishing vessels, through scientific surveys at sea to locate and follow fish stocks, by compiling control data from logbooks, sales notes and satellite data, and through socio-economic surveys of the fisheries, aquaculture and processing sectors.

The EC proposed to simplify the current data collection rules in June 2015. This proposal is currently being discussed in the European Parliament and in the Council. In the meantime, the new guidance will ensure that systematic and consistent data collection continues.

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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