7th REPORT: EUROPEAN UNION FISHERIES LEGISLATION
Department for Environment, Food and Rural
The Government welcomes this report which raises
important issues about the Parliamentary Scrutiny of European
Union fisheries legislation. We recognise and share the concerns
that the Committee has about the lack of time that has been available
to consider certain fisheries legislation. The Government is committed
to improving the process by which decisions are made on fisheries
management within the EU.
Responses to the Committee's specific recommendations
are set out below.
Improving Scrutiny of EU Fisheries Policy
The Committee agrees with the proposal that
the Fisheries Council should be moved to February, along with
a later start to the fishing year.
We agree with the Minister's assessment that:
"The change in the timetable would give
not only parliamentarians more time, it would give the industries
in the various countries and the governments in the various countries
more time to study these proposals in more depth".
We therefore urge the Government to take
forward the improvement of the decision-making process for fisheries
management as a matter of urgency under their Presidency.
The Government supports changes to the decision-making
process, including altering the fishing year timetable to allow
more time between the Commission's proposals being circulated
and decisions being taken and applied. In our current EU Presidency
role, we have timetabled a discussion on this at the October Fisheries
To help facilitate early discussion of key issues,
(the so-called "front-loading" of discussions), the
UK arranged a discussion on options and principles for stock recovery
at the recent September Council. We anticipate a debate related
to the preparation of the 2006 Total Allowable Catches and Quotas
package itself in November.
The Government will continue to keep the Committee
informed as and when these issues develop. We will also copy you
in on the various unofficial working documents as they become
European Fisheries Fund
Mr Bradshaw stated that the UK is "resolutely
opposed to any reintroduction of public money which might lead
to increased capacity anywhere in the EU fleet" Given the
continuing overcapacity of the EU fleet and its impact on over-fishing
we agree strongly with the Government on this issue.
The Government agree this recommendation. We
support the principles of the proposed European Fisheries Fund.
The proposed regulation is designed to prevent expenditure which
will result in an increase in the capacity of fishing vessels.
The Government strongly supports this. It reflects the decision
taken by the Council of Fisheries Ministers in December 2002 to
end subsidies, which could lead to the generation of additional
fishing effort. The EU fleet remains excessive, given the state
of many fish stocks; and incentives from public funds to increase
the effective fishing capacity would put greater pressure on those
stocks, and ultimately threaten the livelihoods of fishermen themselves.
We believe the proposed Fund will assist the
fishing industry to restructure to a more sustainable basis economically,
socially and environmentally, and achieve a better balance between
fish resources and effort, protecting the marine environment and
improving vessel safety and product quality.
It is vital that mechanisms for compliance
with EU Regulations are improved. We support the Commission's
recent initiatives in the use of remote sensing to monitor fishing
vessel activity and the establishing of a new European Fisheries
Control Agency. In our judgement it is essential that the United
Kingdom takes forward the introduction of these initiatives during
The Government agrees this recommendation in
part. The potential value of remote sensing has been recognised
by Member States but it is not a stand-alone enforcement tool.
The Government believes that currently other initiatives that
are being progressed such as electronic log books and the registration
of buyers and sellers of first sale fish, together with the use
of satellite monitoring systems offer a more cost effective means
of improving compliance with EU Regulations. Nevertheless contractors
are continuing to develop remote sensing technology and Fisheries
Departments will be keeping a close eye on the results of the
trials of this technology that are currently taking place.
Regional Advisory Councils
We urge the Government to use the United
Kingdom residency to progress the establishment of Regional Advisory
Councils across the EU.
The UK Government agree this recommendation.
We continue to support the establishment of the Regional Advisory
Councils. The Pelagic and the North Western Waters Regional Advisory
Councils have been formally inaugurated in the last few weeks.
In addition to facilitating the establishment of the Regional
Advisory Councils, the United Kingdom Presidency organised an
informal meeting of EU Fisheries Directors to discuss their progress
and will continue to facilitate co-ordination between the RACs
and the Commission.