Tuesday, 9 March 2021

EU fisheries can only sustainably manage fish stocks if they are accurately measured

As another UK flagged Spanish trawler lands her catch to a waiting lorry which will transport her fish back to Spain:

This week, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will take part in a vote that will prove crucial for the future of our seas and the communities that depend on them.

This vote aims to amend the Fisheries Control Regulation, the EU system for monitoring, inspection and enforcement of fisheries in EU waters and the global operations of the fishing fleet of the EU. The control regulation is essential to enable fishermen, policy makers and civil society to count the fish caught in our seas and to monitor the impact of fishing activities on fragile marine ecosystems.

Any changes to these regulations should improve the sustainability and long-term prospects of our ocean and fishermen. However, if MEPs vote to accept all of the revisions currently being proposed by the European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (PECH), they could endorse a step backwards for EU fisheries policy.

For example, the PECH Commission proposal to increase the margin of error in reporting catches by the fishing industry could lead to massive under-reporting and overfishing and could allow up to two-fifths of the fish caught. in the EU not to be counted. This would completely undermine the EU’s biodiversity strategy and undermine the EU’s credibility as a global leader in ocean governance, including its zero tolerance approach to illegal fishing, unreported and unregulated (IUU) by countries outside the EU.

Another example concerns the committee’s proposal to reject the mandatory use of electronic technology, such as CCTV cameras, to help record fish catches, despite their successful adoption, and significant financial benefits for fishermen who do so. use in Europe and other jurisdictions such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

By adopting these methods, the EU Fisheries Control Regulation has the potential to make responsible and sustainable fishing possible in EU seas; provide not only a complete record of fish caught, but also the impact of fishing activities on sensitive and protected species such as marine mammals and seabirds.

A decision not to adopt these new technologies could see the EU fisheries sector missing out on job creation opportunities and the digital and green transition of the EU Green Deal.

The Control Regulation has been the cornerstone of the Common Fisheries Policy since 2010. However, significant weaknesses or gaps were identified by the European Court of Auditors in 2017, which called for more efforts in the control of EU fisheries, including the reliability of reported catch data.

On Wednesday, it is imperative that MEPs from all European countries vote in favor of amendments ensuring that our monitoring system accurately counts the fish in our seas and measures the impact of fishing activities on our fragile marine ecosystems. By supporting the use of these new monitoring tools, MEPs can help ensure a transition from the European Green Deal towards sustainable fisheries, healthy seas and thriving coastal communities.

The European Coalition for Fisheries Control, made up of non-profit organizations across Europe, calls on MEPs to support four key measures during the vote on the revision of the control regulation on March 10:

● Remote electronic monitoring (REM) must be made compulsory, to ensure accurate records of everything we catch, including sensitive and protected species. The REM, which includes the use of on-board cameras, is internationally recognized as a reliable, cost-effective and scalable way to support well-managed, responsible and sustainable fisheries.

● Keep track of unwanted catches, including protected and sensitive species. Dolphins, seabirds, turtles and other susceptible species die in the thousands every year due to accidental catches in EU fishing nets. By recording where and when bycatch takes place, fishermen across the EU can participate in finding solutions.

● Make sure every fish caught is taken into account. This measure runs counter to a proposal by the PECH Committee to increase flexibility that would allow up to two-fifths of catches to go unreported in official records, completely undermining accountability and accurate reporting of catches.

● Ensure transparency of EU Member States on how they control their fisheries. This measure aims to change the current scenario from a scenario where Member States can currently veto the disclosure of fisheries information for no reason, to a scenario where full transparency is required.

The EU Fisheries Control Coalition is a leading NGO alliance that works with organizations and individuals across Europe to ensure a fisheries control system that protects ocean health and resources. navies for generations to come.