DG MARE has replied to the EAPO position on the weighing of landings saying more accuracy is required from fisheries authorities
Charlina Vitcheva, Director General of DG MARE has written in reply to the European Association of Fish Producers Organisations(EAPO) position in regards to the weighing of landings.
Pim Visser, President of the EAPO had written to the Director-General with concerns over national fisheries authorities weighing of fish and in specifically, pelagic catches.
One of the major concerns was the method introduced by the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) in Ireland, a method described by the EAPO President in July as water being weighed as fish.
The controversial new method introduced by the SFPA saw the Authority insist on weighing specialised transport tankers over a weigh bridge as part of the 5% and 7.5% full monitoring requirements.
The SFPA claims that by deducting 2% of the weight to allow for the refrigerated water this results in an accurate method of calculating pelagic landings.
Fish processors are estimating that the potential loss of income to the industry is in the millions of Euros if this method of weighing continues and it is also a concern for fishing vessels as the weight that is recorded by the SFPA is then deducted from their allocated total allowable catch leading to a reduced income.
Concerns led the EAPO to write to the Director-General and in her response she has said that the results must be accurate as they are essential for catch registration, for control purposes and for effective quota uptake monitoring – all of which are vital to safeguard the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and also to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing.
In her reply, Ms Vitcheva implied that the current method used by the SFPA for weighing was inaccurate and against Control Regulation where they were including any water as part of the calculation in relation to weight.
She said “The Commission is aware of the challenges encountered in weighing fishery products, nevertheless practical solutions exist that ensure full compliance with the rules without impairing fish quality. With this in mind, I would encourage your members to adopt the necessary measures to facilitate the accurate weighing and recording of fishery products in weighing records, landing declarations, sales notes, transport documents and take-over declarations in accordance with the rules enshrined in European Union legislation.”
On the specific issue of weighing pelagic landings in Ireland she wrote:
“In relation to the point you raise about the weighing of pelagic catches in Ireland, I would like to point out that Member States authorities have an obligation to ensure that all data recorded in accordance with the Control Regulation is accurate, complete and submitted within deadlines and that Member States have an obligation to adopt the necessary structures, measures and resources to ensure control, enforcement and inspection of all activities that fall under the scope of the CFP.
In doing so, I would also like to point out that Member States authorities are fully entitled to require that any quantity of landed fishery products are weighed in their presence before transport and that the accuracy for weighing rests with operators.
When it comes to the weighing of pelagic fishery products at landing, the authorities and the industry should establish measures that ensure that water can be removed from such catches prior to weighing in order to ensure that the resulting figures are accurate and fully represent the actual quantities landed.
In the event that catches are not accurately weighed, nor weighed in accordance with the rules or the results of weighing are not used to complete catch registration documents such as weighing records, landing declarations, sales notes, transport documents and take-over declarations, Member States have an obligation to systematically take appropriate measures, in conformity with their national law, against the natural or legal persons suspected of breaching the rules.”
The full letter can be read here.