The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) has presented the three new chartered patrol vessels which will serve as additional platforms for EU fisheries inspections in European and international waters.
Following the mandate from the EU institutions to strengthen EFCA’s operational capacity for assisting the Member States and the European Commission in the monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries, as required by the Common Fisheries Policy, EFCA has reinforced its fleet with three new offshore patrol vessels, following the award of a public call for tender.
These are the only patrol vessels whose operations are managed by an EU Agency. They have been named Ocean Guardian, Ocean Protector and Ocean Sentinel.
All three vessels operate under the Portuguese flag, and will be deployed primarily as fisheries patrol vessels to support member states in the different EFCA joint deployment plans from the Mediterranean and Black Sea to the Western Waters, North Sea, Baltic Sea, NAFO and NEAFC.
The vessels will also be deployed as fisheries patrol vessel in the scope of multipurpose operations in the framework of European co-operation on coast guard functions. The three vessels, during their operations will also be available for supporting other coast guard functions, including providing support during search and rescue situations, maritime surveillance and pollution response.
In addition to seaborne means, EFCA has also contracted an aircraft to carry out aerial surveillance services for fisheries control, thus providing an additional tool to support MS in the different EFCA joint deployment plans.
‘Today is an important milestone in the history of the Agency. The chartering of three inspection platforms marks a turning point and materialises our strong commitment to support Member States authorities and the European Commission promoting compliance with the fisheries rules, as well as contributing for safe, secure and sustainable sea,’ said EFCA executive director Susan Steele.
‘The vessels’ modern facilities and technologies ensure a safe and comfortable stay onboard. Their deployment could be seen as a specific oceans safeguarding measure which enhances the EU capacity to improve the effectiveness of fisheries control operations in the EU and beyond.’
The charter of the three offshore fisheries patrol vessels went to a consortium led by Sentinel Marine Netherlands. These are Multi-Role Emergency Response and Rescue Vessels (ERRV) with overall length of 62 metres. Two were built in 2018 and the third in 2020.
All of them have a Dynamic Positioning System to better maintain their position and each has seven ensuite cabins for single or double use available to the Agency, as well as a meeting room with digital projection capacity and high broadband internet connection for live video conferencing as well as access to various fisheries control systems/databases.
The vessels were also required to prove ecological responsibility and have been certified with the ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management.
The aircraft is a DA62 fit for mid-range maritime multirole surveillance missions, which will be deployed until the end of May 2023 to support member states in their specific JDP under direct operational management of EFCA. The intention is to have an aircraft deployed for fisheries patrol purposes on a more permanent basis and in tandem with EFCA chartered OPVs as appropriate.