EU proposal does not ensure ambitious control system to tackle illegal fishing

Lack of sanctions for infringements will continue without greater transparency in European fisheries enforcement.

Press Release Date: May 30, 2018

Location: Brussels


Marta Madina | email: | tel.: Marta Madina

The European Commission today published a revision of the European fisheries Control Regulation, which aims to ensure compliance with rules of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and a system of monitoring, inspection and enforcement for fishing operations in EU waters and activities of the EU fleet globally. The Commission’s proposal includes measures that aim to address loopholes that have led to a situation, where the lack of effective control in all Member States has negatively impacted fish stocks. However, according to Oceana, the proposal is not ambitious enough to ensure a successful implementation of the regulation by member states. 

The EU is at the forefront of the global fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Still, tackling illegal activities in EU waters or by EU flagged vessels globally remains a challenge for some Member States, mainly due to the lack of political will to put in place proper control measures, said Lasse Gustavsson, executive director of Oceana Europe. Currently, illegal fishing activities go unpunished in some EU countries. If this is not addressed in the future regulation, the EU control system cannot be a success”, added Gustavsson.

Following are some of the key changes proposed by the European Commission as well as Oceana recommendations for the future Control Regulation: 

  • Removal of the loophole that allows almost nine out of 10 EU vessels – responsible for around 25% of the EU catches – not to be tracked by a vessel monitoring system, or VMS. This hampers effective fisheries management for certain fisheries and species, especially in the Mediterranean where most of this fleet is based. The current exemption stem from 2010 but since then vessel monitoring devices have become much smaller and cheaper. Oceana supports the installment of such devices on all vessels, also to improve the safety of fishers.
  • Changes to the sanctioning system for infringements of EU fisheries laws, including to the list of serious infringements. Regrettably, the European Commission did not take the opportunity to include turning off AIS transmitters
  • Targeted amendments to the EU law to combat illegal fishing. Oceana considers the amendment of this ambitious law extremely risky as it has made the EU a global leader in the fight against illegal fishing. Especially since this regulation was deemed fit for purpose in 2015, and has been included in this revision without a proper public consultation process.
  • The European Commission did not propose to create a public database that includes information on infringements and sanctions. Until now, the European Commission has not taken sufficient measures to make European fisheries enforcement more transparent. As a result, very few member states are currently sanctioned in a dissuasive, proportionate and effective way.

Oceana now calls on the European Parliament and the European Council to ensure an adoption of a strong and ambitious future fisheries Control Regulation.


Notes to the editor:

Oceana is concerned about the fact that the revision process was accelerated, and no public consultation was launched before the publication of the legislative proposal. Contrary to the original plan of the European Commission and according to the Inception Impact Assessment of the revision of the Fisheries Control System published in October 2017, the standard open, public consultation will be replaced by “targeted consultations.” These took place during the last quarter of 2017, in clear contradiction with the European Commission’s own Better Regulation Guidelines.