New rules to monitor EU fleet fishing overseas
The European Commission (EC) has proposed a new system to grant and manage fishing authorizations, allowing authorities to better monitor both EU vessels fishing outside Union waters and international vessels fishing in European waters.
This proposal forms part of the implementation of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), which states, “whether they are fishing inside or outside the EU, our fishers must be subject to the same rules and standards. Monitoring the activities of the EU fishing fleet, whatever their position, is crucial to promote sustainable fishing and combat illegal operations.”
The new regulation will apply to all EU vessels fishing outside EU waters, wherever they operate and irrespective of the legal framework under which the fishing takes place. These vessels will not be able to fish in third country waters or in the high sea unless they have been previously authorized by their flag member state.
To obtain authorization, they will have to show that they comply with a set of criteria that the EU considers essential. For instance, that they have an International Maritime Organization (IMO) number and a valid fishing license, and have not been found guilty of infringements.
The flag member state, under the supervision of the EC, will have to check the vessel's information thoroughly before granting authorization and will enter this information into an official register.
“This naturally facilitates monitoring and record keeping of our vessels' activities abroad, with obvious advantages when it comes to enforcing the EU's sustainability rules,” said the Commission in a statement. “Having all EU vessels subject to the same set of rules also adds legal clarity and fairness for the sector, even in the case of private licensing and reflagging. Third countries will benefit as well from the additional safeguards of stricter controls. And as the vessels' information will be partly made public, citizens will have a better overview of where and how their fish was caught.
“By improving control on EU vessels, the proposed regulation will contribute to the fight against illegal fishing and set a new international standard for management and control of external fleets – thus contributing to better global fisheries governance.”
The regulation is expected to come into effect in 2017, after adoption by the European Parliament and the European Council.