Original publication: October 2015
Authors: Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Universidad de Alicante – Unidad Mixta IEO/UA: – Jose Mª Bellido Millán, Jose Luis Sánchez Lizaso Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Baleares: – Ana Carbonell Quetglas Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Málaga: – Teresa Garcia Jimenez, Jorge Baro Domínguez Instituto Español de Oceanografía, Centro Oceanográfico de Vigo: – Julio Valeiras Mota
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The set of documents prepared for the workshop includes the following papers:
I – Lessons from the Past for the Future of Technical Measures ;
II – Technical Measures in the Baltic Sea – An Alternative to Over-Regulation and the Brace-and-Belt Approach ;
III – Technical Measures in the Atlantic and the North Sea – Working with Stakeholders Towards Meaningful Revision ;
IV – Fishing Management Based on Technical Measures – The Need of a New Framework for the Mediterranean Sea

Background

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) of the EU has recently been overhauled. In December 2013, the European Parliament and the Council agreed on a comprehensive CFP reform. It is now enshrined in a new legislative framework, the so-called ‘new CFP basic regulation‘ (Regulation (EU) No 1380/2013). As far as the conservation of marine biological resources is concerned, it repeals and replaces the former ‘basic fisheries management framework’, laid down by the Council in 2002 (Regulation (EC) No 2371/2002).

Thus the main objectives to be accomplished by this reformed CFP are the following:

  • to achieve the maximum sustainable yield exploitation by 2015, or at the latest by 2020,
  • to implement the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management and
  • to gradually eliminate discards through the landing obligation.

In the follow-up to the CFP reform the European Commission is gradually issuing new legislative proposals aiming to align the partly outdated EU Regulations from before 2013. One of the major post-reform projects of the European Commission is the general overhaul of the set of existing rules for technical measures.

The Commission announced a new legislative proposal for a general technical measures Regulation for the late autumn of this year. This new Union Regulation shall replace the old general framework Regulation for technical measures from 1998 (Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98). The existing set of technical measures in the Union is a complex, heterogeneous and disorganized system of provisions. They are frequently inconsistent and even contradictory. They have often been criticised as over-prescriptive and too complex, as they contain numerous exceptions and derogations. This is due in part to their origin and evolution. Some of them, for example, have been transposed into EU law from the provision of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs).

Other measures were adopted by the Council as part of the annual negotiations in the context of setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas. Some of the technical measures are, thus, the fruit of negotiation. This weakens their scientific basis and can generate unjustified differences among sea basins. All the legal texts containing technical measures have been subject to a number of modifications. These have increased their complexity, and sometimes even resulted in deviation from the original aim of the measure.

Against this background the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament wishes to commission an in-depth analysis on “A new technical measures framework for the new CFP – The Mediterranean Sea. The analysis shall be presented and discussed with Members during a workshop entitled “A new technical measures framework for the new CFP”, which is due to take place in the European Parliament premises in Brussels on the 13/10/2015.

Aim

The aim of the present study is to provide a detailed analysis of the situation on technical measures through Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98. With the regard to the general objectives outlined above, the following questions pertaining to rules for technical measures shall be addressed in the in-depth analysis:

  1. Improve the knowledge of the main existing technical measures in the Mediterranean Sea;
  2. Investigate the rules for technical measures in the Mediterranean Sea as well as identifying
  • which of them should be maintained,
  • which should be removed,
  • which should be altered,
  • which new rules for technical measures might be developed,

either in a general EU framework Regulation or in a specific EU Regulation for conservation measures.

The methodology used in this in-depth analysis followed a progressive approach:

  • First of all, we define what technical measures are in a fishery context and why technical measures are so important in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • We provide an inventory of the main existing technical measures in the Mediterranean and review them by making a classification of technical measures.
  • We assess the main existing technical measures applicable in the Mediterranean Sea in view of the above mentioned new CFP objectives as well as the regionalisation aspect of the new CFP and the announced simplification of CFP
  • We provide conclusions and propose some recommendations to the Members of the committee on how to rationalise the complex set of specific and general technical measures in view of the above-mentioned CFP objectives for the Mediterranean Sea.

This in-depth analysis is based on desk research, it makes use of scientific and technical material from a number of sources, such as academic studies, websites, databases, EU Institutions, authorities of the Members States or think tanks among others.

Main findings

In a Mediterranean context the new technical measures regulation is crucial, as Mediterranean management system leans mainly in Technical Regulations, opposite to Atlantic where catch quota plays a major role in his management system.

Technical measures are also considered instruments of input controls, i.e. mechanisms which regulate the fishing effort going into the fishery. Opposite, quotas and limitations of catch are considered output controls, i.e. mechanisms which limit the harvest coming out of the fishery.

Technical measures are quite related to technological innovations. Fishing is a very dynamic activity which evolves continuously, searching the maximum efficiency. This include improvements in the detection and chase of fish, access to previously non-accessible areas, better selectivity of fishing gear, new materials, new devices, etc… As a result, technical measures have to be “linked to the reality” of fishing operations. They have the risk to become obsolete quite soon, being useless in some cases or even harmful in the worst cases. 

The core of EU Mediterranean fisheries management measures are set out in the EU Regulation 1343/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council. This regulation establishes certain provisions for fishing in the GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean) 0Area of application, High seas and National waters. It amended Council Regulation (EC) No. 1967/2006 concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea.

Technical measures regulations can be grouped according to different levels:

  • Regulations of fleet characteristics and technical characteristics of the gears
    • Based on the technical characteristics, length and engine power of fishing vessels.
    • Based on the technical and operational characteristics of fishing gears.
  • Regulations of fleet access to fishing grounds
    • Based on the control of fishing effort exerted, limitations of fishing time by day and by week among others.
    • Based on spatial and/or seasonal restrictions to fishing in specific areas or seasons of the year.
  • Regulations of what can be retained onboard
    • Based on catch composition: allowed, vulnerable and prohibited species.
    • Based on commercial minimum sizes (Minimum Landing Size (MLS), now named Minimum Conservation Size (MCS).
    • Based on quotas and catch limits.

 There is a general consensus on the over exploited state for almost all Mediterranean target species, with intense fishing pressure, low daily catches based quite often on small sizes specimens (Caddy, 2015). On the other hand, although there is a complete set of technical and biological measures for Mediterranean fisheries, more effective management is needed to reverse this situation.

In this in-depth analysis we provided a detailed assessment of the technical measures currently in force, suggesting some recommendations mainly based on fishing selectivity, spatio-temporal closures and protection of vulnerable sizes and vulnerable species. Also it is suggested a better involvement of fishers into management to comply in a better manner with technical measures.

Given the characteristics and peculiarities of each region, local action plans are needed as solutions for management need to be setup in a regional context. Some of these solutions are improvements of control of fishing effort, better fishing selectivity, spatio-temporal fishing restrictions for vulnerable sizes and/or areas, effective enforcement and finally an agreement of the fishing sector to comply with the rules and regulations.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/563-403

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