Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Ben Bradshaw MP, Minister for Local Environment, Marine and Animal Welfare, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to the Chairman

  Your letter of 26 January 2005,[78] setting out your Committee's findings on Explanatory Memorandum 14181/04 on a proposal for a Council Regulation on electronic recording and reporting of fishing activities and on other means of remote sensing, asked to be kept informed of developments.

  In October 2005 the Commission prepared a non-paper which set out their thinking on the subject and also the basis for their assumption in regard to possible costs of an electronic recording system. The paper was based on the results of a questionnaire sent to Member States asking for their opinions in relation to electronic logbooks and further brief discussion at other meetings with Member States. Representatives from several Member States encouraged the Commission to prepare a detailed proposal to assist further discussion. This has yet to be issued. A summary of the Commission paper is enclosed for your information. The draft agenda for the April Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting shows that this item is due for discussion and vote. We await the Presidency compromise text, I hope this is helpful and I will ensure that the Committee is kept informed of any further developments or proposals.

22 February 2006

Annex A



Frequency of transmissions

    —  Daily transmissions for data but with a provision for Member States to be allowed to request more frequent transmissions if it wished, provided that data was gathered on a daily basis.

    —  The information to be collected would not go further than that currently required in the paper logbook. However restrictions would not be placed on Member States to request further data especially if that information were to allow industry to manage all required data for control and avoid duplication between a computerised procedure for catch data and the persistence of paper documents for others.

    —  The E-logbook should also cover data which was not covered by the original logbook but which is now been made mandatory by various texts, especially for effort data or stock recovery plans.

Access to data by control Authorities

    —  Daily transmission of catch data to the FMCs offers advantages over a system where the logbook is seen to be held on the vessel, as it could allow FMCs to share relevant data with inspectors (own and other Member States) to ensure more targeted inspection and more accurate or "unchallengeable" data to be available.

    —  Receipt messages (a message back to the vessel to show that a catch report has been received and read by the FMC) would offer a practical and simple solution to protecting data against tampering risks.


Setting up cost to FMCs

    —  Capital costs of servers are thought to be around €130,000 and software costs around €400,000. Due to current requirements to record logbook, landing declaration and sales note data along with VMS data, it was acknowledged that some Member States would not incur the full costs outlined above.

Setting up cost to industry

    —  Fishing vessels that already had on-board PCs integrated into communication systems may not incur any additional costs for hardware. For those without suitable equipment, costs in the region of €1,500-€2,000 were foreseen. Software costs were thought to be around €1,000 per vessel.

Transmission costs

    —  Transmission costs to industry are estimated to be in the region of €1.70-€3 per message (dependant on communication provider used). Annual transmission costs for vessels fishing for 250 days per year should amount to between €425 and €750. Costs to Authorities for sending return messages would vary according to the size of their fleet and communication provider used.

Letter from the Chairman to Ben Bradshaw MP

  Thank you for your letter of 22 February, and attached summary of the Commission non-paper on the proposed Regulation, which Sub-Committee D considered at its meeting on 15 March.

  We were disappointed at the apparent lack of progress made by the Commission in preparing a detailed proposal as a basis for further discussion. We would be grateful if you could continue to keep us informed of any developments in this area as and when they occur. In the meantime the Committee agreed to retain the proposal under scrutiny.

17 March 2006

Letter from Ben Bradshaw MP to the Chairman

  Further to your letter of 17 March I would like to bring you up to date with progress on this dossier.

  I have now received a copy of the latest compromise text prepared by the Austrian Presidency and enclose a copy for your information (not printed). There are three clear aspects to the proposals:

    —  electronic recording of information currently required to be recorded in paper logbooks, landing declarations and transhipment declarations;

    —  electronic recording and submission of sales note data by those involved in the sale and purchase of first sale fish; and

    —  use of remote sensing of fishing vessels by Member States.

  I am broadly supportive of these measures which will help to improve compliance and offer opportunities to reduce administrative burdens on industry. The Committee commented on their disappointment at the apparent lack of progress made by the Commission in preparing detailed proposals as a basis for further discussion. As you will see, the revised proposal still contains no details of what the systems must/should do, it simply provides the obligation on Member States to use electronic recording systems for fishing activity. Detailed implementing rules will be agreed subsequently by Management Committee procedure. The UK's main point of concern with this text has been with the implementation date, set in Article lc at six months after the detailed implementing rules have been agreed. We and several other Member States do not believe that this would allow sufficient time for the necessary hardware and software to be installed, both on board fishing vessels and in administrations' Monitoring Centres, and have pressed for this to be extended to 12 months.

  Further discussion of this proposal has not been possible in Fisheries Council but I understand that it is now the intention to have the proposal adopted as an A point before the summer. I will keep you informed of any further information provided by either the Commission or the Council.

14 June 2006

Letter from the Chairman to Ben Bradshaw MP

  Thank you for your letter dated 14 June which Sub-Committee D (Environment and Agriculture) considered at its meeting on 5 July.

  The Committee notes the Government's concern regarding the development of this proposal and the concerns expressed that the lead time for implementing the new arrangements may be insufficient. The Committee does however support the introduction of electronic recording and reporting of fishing activity and is content to clear the proposal.

  We ask that you will ensure that the Committee is informed of progress in advance of the relevant Council meeting.

10 July 2006

78   Correspondence with Ministers, 4th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 16, p 202. Back

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