With the ongoing revision of the EU fisheries control system, Euopean fishing industry association Europêche and the EU IUU Coalition have released a joint statement addressed to EU decision makers, setting out that a robust EU control system is critical to ensure that seafood products sold in the EU are sustainably sourced, fully traceable and properly monitored by Member States.
While acknowledging the clear contribution of the current Control Regulation to improve compliance with fisheries rules, they call on MEPs and EU fisheries Ministers to resolve the shortcomings. In particular, they see the current lack of harmonised sanctions for infringements, insufficient data exchange, ambiguity of legal provisions, and disparities in the level of scrutiny in the implementation of control measures and traceability across Member States as creating a complex and uneven playing field for operators, leaving the system open for abuse.
These issues highlight the need for simplification and harmonisation, and must be addressed in the future Control Regulation. The upcoming votes on the Regulation in the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers happening towards the end of the year are important opportunities for change.
‘The current EU fisheries control system is one of the most advanced in the world and has undoubtedly contributed to step up compliance with the Common Fisheries Policy and to the sustainable management of our fish stocks,’ said Europêche managing director Daniel Voces de Onaindi.
‘Now, both Europêche and NGOs call for improvements to modernise and simplify the existing framework and overcome implementing flaws to render the system more effective. Our fishermen need clear and efficient rules uniformly applied across the EU to guarantee equal treatment, reduce bureaucracy and make their life easier.’
The organisations call on EU decision makers to enhance and digitise traceability of seafood products, simplify and better align control measures, require additional information for imported fisheries products, require tracking and electronic catch reporting for small-scale fishing vessels (taking into account specifics of each fishery), and provide more public information on the implementation of enforcement measures by Member States.
They state that this would create a true level playing field on EU control efforts so all fishers are fairly and equally treated.
‘It is critical that the revision of the fisheries Control Regulation ensures the sustainability objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy are met. The revised rules must strengthen compliance, modernise data management, intensify the fight against illegal fish products and guarantee a level playing field for all stakeholders in the EU,’ stated a representative of the EU IUU Coalition.
‘A powerful signal is being sent to EU decision makers today, with NGOs and Europêche united in proposing solutions for effective rules on fisheries control, monitoring and enforcement. We are counting on EU decision makers to ensure that the legal and implementation deficiencies are addressed, and that the future Control Regulation creates a harmonised system that secures sustainable fisheries in Europe.’