Original publication: October 2015
Author: Stuart A. Reeves
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2mKN3vZ

This document was prepared for the workshop of the PECH Secretariat held on 13 October 2015 in Brussels – “New Technical Measures Framework for The New Common Fisheries Policy” .

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

Technical conservation measures which are intended to influence how and where fishing takes place. In EU fisheries they have mainly been used to encourage selective fishing and thus reduce discarding, or to protect parts of the marine ecosystem.

Technical measures are here classified into a number of different types:

  1. Catch composition rules;
  2. rules on gear handling and use;
  3. gear construction regulations;
  4. area closures to protect ecosystem components;
  5. areas closures for other, stock-related, reasons and
  6. other measures related to ecosystem protection.

EU technical measures legislation is complex and spread across many different regulations. Compared to other areas where EU vessels fish, such as the Northwest Atlantic and Antarctic waters, EU legislation contains a high number of gear construction measures and stock-related area closures.

The current study builds on the results of a previous study which took place in 2008 and performed a detailed review of the technical measures that were in place in EU legislation at that time. Based on the analysis of the measures that were in place and their performance, the 2008 study identified a number of elements that would help contribute to an effective implementation of technical measures. The current study uses those ‘lessons learnt’ from the review of past technical measures to help consider how technical measures might be implemented in the future.

In recent years the main changes in the context for technical measures arise from the recent reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. The key element of this policy of relevance to technical measures is a move towards a landing obligation for fish which would previously have been discarded. Regionalisation and the move towards an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management will also be important. The achievement of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is also an important element of the reformed CFP, but this but catch limits such as TACs will be the main tool for achieving this objective.

The changes to the context for technical measures resulting from the reformed CFP are mostly consistent with those identified by the 2008 study as contributing to a more effective implementation of technical measures. In particular, the move to a results-based system where the objective – eliminating discards – is defined instead of the measures, allows for a more flexible, bottom-up approach to achieving the objective.

Many of the existing technical measures which are connected with selectivity and discarding, particularly catch composition and gear construction measures, should become unnecessary once the landing obligation becomes fully effective as it will then be illegal to discard undersized fish. Measures related to ecosystem protection are likely to still be relevant so should be retained.

A possible framework for future technical measures would consist of a central regulation containing measures which would apply in all regions and to all EU fishing vessels, and a series of regional regulations containing measures relevant only to that region. The measures in the central regulation would be mostly gear-handling measures intended to protect aspects of the marine ecosystem, and possibly also a list of protected species. The framework would also need a time component to allow for the phasing-out of catch composition and gear construction measures and for the review of stock-related area closures. The measures in the regional regulations would be mostly spatial measures.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/563-4073

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Figure 1: Numbers of technical measure by type in different sea areas/RFMOs


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