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New Rules For EU Vessels Fishing Internationally

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New Rules For EU Vessels Fishing Internationally

New Rules For EU Vessels Fishing Internationally
December 14
10:18 2015

The European Commission has proposed a new system to grant and manage authorisations that will allow authorities to better monitor both EU vessels fishing outside Union waters and international vessels fishing in our own waters. The main goal of the Regulation is to make sure that the core principles of the Common Fisheries Policy (such as sustainability or the fight against illegal fishing) are respected by EU vessels whether they fish inside or outside EU waters. Therefore the Regulation lays down clear and precise rules to authorise and monitor all EU vessels when they fish outside the waters of the European Union, irrespective of where the fishing activity takes place (in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of a third country or in the high sea) and the legal framework under which it takes place (public agreement or through private authorisation).

Before it can fish outside Union waters, an EU vessel needs an authorisation by or an agreement with the third country concerned. The rules regulating the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) form the basis of such agreements (whereby the fishing possibilities available to the Union are subject to the surplus principle). But the core aspect of the Regulation is that, on top of this authorisation or agreement, Union vessels will not be able to fish in the waters of a third country unless they have been authorised by their flag Member State. This second authorisation is based on a set of essential criteria that the vessel needs to comply with and that the flag Member State needs to check thoroughly.

This set of criteria will include administrative information on the vessel and the master, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number, valid fishing license and lack of serious infringements. It can also be complemented by more specific criteria, depending on the nature of the authorisation request. For instance, as regards direct authorisations from a third country, operators will have to provide the flag Member State with a series of specific information, such as competent authority in the third country, bank account to be credited with the payments and applicable law.

To monitor the Union’s fleet wherever it operates and whatever the framework (Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs),Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPAs), direct authorisations, high seas), the current Fishing Authorisation Regulation (FAR) is repealed and its scope extended to cover all cases of Union vessels fishing outside Union waters, i.e. chartering operations (when a Union vessel is rented out for fishing activities), reflagging operations and direct authorisations (private licences).

The Regulation gives national administrations and operators a clear and comprehensive legal framework, with all operators subject to the same single set of data to provide and conditions to meet. This provides legal certainly, even in the case of private licences or reflagging.

It will provide a clear overview of the activities of the EU fleet all over the world, resulting in increased transparency and better monitoring of external fleets. Part of the data collected will be made public through an online database (information will include name and flag of the vessel, type of authorisation, time frame and fishing zone); so the general public will know more about who fishes what and under which conditions around the planet. As for the third countries where EU vessels go fishing, they too get additional safeguards through a better authorisation system.

The Regulation is expected to come into effect in 2017, after adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.

 

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