Fisheries Controls: More Efforts Needed, say Auditors
efforts are needed if the EU is to have an effective fisheries control
system in place, according to a new report from the European Court
of Auditors. The auditors say that Member States and the European
Commission have made progress over the last decade; however, the
EU does not yet have a sufficiently effective system of fisheries
controls to support the Common Fisheries Policy.
auditors visited four Member States: Spain, France, Italy and the
UK (Scotland). None of the four had sufficiently verified the accuracy
of their fishing fleets' capacity or the information on the vessels
in their fleet registers. None had verified the tonnage of their
fishing vessels, and two had not verified engine power. Additionally,
the auditors found significant discrepancies between vessel details
in the fleet register and those in supporting documents.
say the auditors, the Member States examined were implementing fisheries
management measures adequately. Satellite-based vessel tracking
systems provided powerful information for monitoring and controlling
fishing activities. But as a result of exemptions provided by the
Control Regulation, 89% of the EU fleet was not monitored, which
hindered effective management in some fisheries and for some species.
States have not yet fully implemented the EUs fisheries control
regulation, said Mr Janusz Wojciechowski, the Member of the
European Court of Auditors responsible for the report, and
some of the regulations need modifying if Member States are to control
their fisheries effectively.
Member States managed the uptake of their fishing quotas well. But
when they allowed producer organisations to manage quota distribution,
they did not always know which criteria were used. This lack of
transparency made it difficult to identify the actual beneficiaries
of fishing opportunities, to assess any potential adverse impact
on the environment and local economies, and to take corrective measures
where appropriate. The auditors did also see examples of good practice,
where professional fisheries organisations required their members
to comply with additional, but more focused, conservation measures
beyond those of the Common Fisheries Policy.
on fishing activities collected within the framework of the Control
Regulation was not sufficiently complete and reliable. Catch data
for vessels making paper-based declarations a significant
portion of the EU fleet was incomplete and often incorrectly
recorded, say the auditors. There were significant discrepancies
between declared landings and subsequent records of first sale.
Two of the four Member States visited did not sufficiently share
and trace information concerning activities of vessels from one
flag Member State in another. Member States data validation
processes were insufficient. In addition, there were significant
differences between the overall catch data recorded by the Member
States and that available to the Commission.
general, the Member States visited planned and carried out fisheries
inspections well. However, inspectors did not have real-time access
to information about vessels, which reduced the effectiveness of
inspections, and, although standardised inspection procedures were
established, they were not always used. Inspection results were
not always correctly reported, and the sanctions applied were not
always a sufficient deterrent. The points system, a key innovation
to ensure equal treatment of fishing operators, was applied differently
across Member States and even within Member States.
auditors make a number of recommendations to the Commission and
to the Member States, aimed at improving the reliability of information
on fishing fleets, the monitoring of fisheries management measures,
the reliability of fisheries data, and inspections and sanctions.