Select Committee on European Scrutiny Twenty-Second Report




COM(02) 108

Draft Council Regulation establishing specific access requirements and associated conditions applicable to fishing for deep-sea stocks.

Legal base:Article 37 EC; qualified majority voting
Document originated:1 March 2002
Forwarded to the Council:5 March 2002
Deposited in Parliament:18 March 2002
Department:Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Basis of consideration:EM of 18 March 2002
Previous Committee Report:None
To be discussed in Council:April 2002
Committee's assessment:Politically important
Committee's decision:For debate in European Standing Committee A, together with the proposal setting TACs for the main species for 2002


  6.1  The Community has for some 20 years set annual total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for the main fish stocks in waters within its jurisdiction, and it is also a member of a number of international organisations, such as the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), whose aim is to conserve stocks in international waters. However, the measures taken have not hitherto extended to the deep-sea stocks caught in waters beyond the main fishing grounds on the continental shelves, and there has been growing scientific evidence that these have been over-exploited.

  6.2  In December 2001, the Commission put forward a proposal[14] to fix fishing opportunities for the Community in 2002, in both its own and international waters, for a range of deep-sea species in accordance with international agreements covering precautionary management and the sustainable use of fisheries resources. In doing so, it undertook to produce a second proposal early in 2002 for an effort control regime, and this is now set out in the current document.

The current proposal

  6.3  The Commission is proposing that vessels fishing for deep-sea species should in future do so only if they have a permit; that the aggregate power and capacity of those vessels engaged in these fisheries in any one of the years 1998, 1999 and 2000 should be established, and used as the basis for restricting future effort; and that further scientific data should be obtained (including some by scientific observers who would have to be present on a sample of voyages). There would also be requirements regarding vessel monitoring with satellite tracking devices, and the landing of catches at designated ports.

The Government's view

  6.4  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 18 March 2002, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Commons) at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Elliot Morley) reiterates the view, already expressed in connection with the proposed TACs and quotas, that measures such as TACs and quotas are inappropriate as across-the-board mechanisms for protecting deep water species, and that the UK therefore strongly believes that the Community should develop urgently a regime for applying real effort control. He adds that, to be properly effective, this will need to be advanced internationally within the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC), and to be binding on all contracting parties.

  6.5  The Minister says that the UK therefore welcomes these further proposals, and that, in order to establish a simple and enforceable approach, it will be seeking the introduction of a restrictive licensing scheme; restrictions based on gross tonnage, rather than kilowatt, days at sea; the capping, at minimum, of effort at current levels; and targeted measures, such as closed areas for all or part of a year for certain species.


  6.6  The proposal itself is relatively straightforward, and should be viewed in the context of the proposal on total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for these species, which we first considered on 6 February, and on which we are also reporting today. As with that proposal, we think the current document should be debated in European Standing Committee A alongside the 2002 TACs and quotas for the main species covered by the Common Fisheries Policy.

14   (23069) 15238/01; see HC 152-xviii (2001-02), paragraph 2 (6 February 2002). Back

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