Susan Steele, the next Executive Director of EFCA wants to increase the number of fisheries inspection vessels
Dr Susan Steele, the next Executive Director of the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) has said that her aims are to increase the number of inspection vessels at the agency based in Vigo, Spain.
The current Chair of the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) was speaking at Tuesday’s European Parliament’s Committee in Fisheries (PECH Committee) where she claimed that her tenure at the Irish authority has been successful and that she has acted as a relationship builder in her role.
The SFPA Chair who takes up her new position wants to increase the number of EFCA patrol vessels from one to three in order to crack down on the EU fishing fleet.
Steele has come under heavy criticism from the fishing industry and politicians, but it was announced last month (April 2021) that she was to take up the new position in EFCA following the end of Pascal Savouret tenure. Steele takes up the position on an initial five-year tenure.
“In regards to the level playing field, I regard it as extremely important that we have a level-playing-field within Europe and EFCA has a key role in this level-playing-field.
“The areas that I see are very important initially are in relation to the training of Union inspectors with the core curricula and this work is being undergone in the Agency. The numbers of inspector training has been increased but is also with the e-learning platform and the Agency has been looking at virtual reality tools for training, as well as the standardisation of procedure is a key role and has a high profile in the future working of EFCA.”
In relation to stepping up fisheries control Steele said:
“In relation to the new Digital Tools, and REM technologies it’s important that if we look initially at the work of the Agency there is a number of joint deployment plans implemented by the agency with 30 specific actions proposed in the framework of three JDPs and six specific campaigns.
“So, they’re looking at the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea JDPs.
“In 2020, the agency carried out 38,450 infringements Suspected infringements were in misrecording, non-compliance with technical conservation measures to non-compliance with the landing obligation and 23% other types
“This level of finding of infringements means that we must have a wide range of tools to be able to ensure compliance, and it is very, very important against this background, considering the limitations of these inspections and of the human observation that REM appears as a step further to dramatically increase the level of information for those involved.
“We must always remember that the aim of this is to develop a sustainable future for fishers and for future generations, both for the stocks and for all of our coastal communities.
“EFCA endorses the requirements for systems for eight, endorses REM and has been working with Member States developing REM.
“As you are aware the cameras and CCTV systems proposed are only one of a suite of possible REM tools, and I’m conscious that there’s a lot of questions. There not a substitute, the REM measures, but they are an important part of a toolbox and so I hope that that answers it.
“In relation to the future and you raise correctly the concern with one extra vessel.
“The budget increase that EFCA has received and will allow for the chartering of more than one vessel.
“As everybody in this committee is aware, one vessel between all sea basins is very limited. So, I understand from Pascal Savouret that the intention is to charter three vessels and this increase will mean that we can have vessels permanently patrolling different sea basins, such as the Mediterranean, which would make a huge difference.”
Steele pointed out that she would be seeking EFCA to work harder to enforce the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy.
FÓRSA staff members of the SFPA are currently engaged with the Work Relations Commission in a disagreement over consultation on management changes to the State body.
by Oliver McBride
The full meeting with Dr Steele can be viewed here.