A letter from the DG Mare in regards to concerns of fisheries monitoring was not exclusive to the Irish Government an EU official has told The Fishing Daily.
An article which appeared in The Sunday Times on 26 April 2020 claiming that the DG Mare Commissioner, Bernhard Fleiss had written exclusively to the Irish Government with concerns over the Member State’s ability to fulfil its monitoring obligation under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has been dismissed by an official EU communication.
The EU official says that Ireland was not solely marked out to be contacted on the concern of the monitoring obligation and that all Member States were written to in order to remind them of their requirement to inspect fishing vessels at sea and offloading in the harbours.
The EU official said “The Commission (DG MARE) sent letters to all Member States, including Ireland, reminding them of their obligations to ensure control, inspection and enforcement of all activities relevant to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) as required by Article 5(3) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1224/20093 (Control Regulation), while recognising the challenges presented by the coronavirus crisis.
“The Commission expressed our concern vis-à-vis continued fishing activities in case physical inspections at sea or at landing are significantly reduced or discontinued, as this would present a major risk regarding compliance with the rules of the CFP. In this framework, DG MARE also reminded Ireland and all other Coastal Member States to regularly transmit VMS and ERS data as required by the legislation.
In response to the Sunday Times article, last Monday (27 April) the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority told The Fishing Daily “The SFPA is continuing to maintain its sea-fisheries and seafood safety regulatory services, with some modifications to ensure the health and safety of its staff and industry colleagues, in line with Government guidelines and HSE advice… the SFPA are extremely confident that we have stepped up to the mark in inspection numbers.”
The issue of Remote Electronic Monitoring was again addressed by the DG Mare in the letter to the Coastal Member States as it believes that modern technologies like CCTV and other tracking systems would make it easier to supervise the fishing fleet, especially in a time of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic has created.
In the letter the EU official said “The Commission urged Member States not to delay any further the recourse to modern control tools, such as Remote Electronic Monitoring, and in particular CCTVs, both on board fishing vessels and in ports and premises as indispensable control tools. As the coronavirus crisis continues, such measures may become indispensable for Member States to fulfil their obligation to ensure control, inspection and enforcement of activities relevant to the CFP when physical checks are interrupted or significantly curtailed.”