Commission welcomes new port controls –

Commission welcomes new port controls Published:  10 May, 2007

THE European Commission has welcomed the entry into force on May 1 of the new port state control scheme adopted in November last year by the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) to combat illegal fishing.

From now on, foreign fishing vessels will not be authorised to land frozen fish products in the ports of NEAFC members unless the state where the vessel is registered has given the port state a green light in advance.

According to the European Commisson, the scheme represents a major step towards ensuring that all the fish put on sale within the European Union has been legally caught in the context of sustainable regulated fisheries. The practical implementation of the scheme follows on from successful tests of the control and communications systems involved over the last few weeks.

European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Joe Borg commented: “Those who fish illegally do so to make money. If they cannot land their products, they cannot sell them. So they will have no incentive to keep on breaking the law. This scheme, put in place by NEAFC, is not only welcome in itself, but also demonstrates the crucial role that such Regional Fisheries Management Organisations can do for the sustainable management of fisheries.”

The port state control scheme was adopted unanimously at NEAFC’s annual meeting last November. From May 1, prior notification of landings of frozen fish by foreign fishing vessels will have to include a declaration by the master of the vessels concerned of the catch on board. Before the landings can be authorised by the port state, the flag state must exercise its responsibility by verifying the information provided in the declaration. This means that the flag state must confirm, firstly, that the fishing vessel had sufficient quota for the fish onboard and, secondly, that the catch had been taken into account in the national monitoring quota uptake regime. The flag state must also confirm that the vessel was authorised to fish and that the area of catch, declared by the vessel, has been verified through the records received via the satellite-based vessel monitoring system, known as VMS. Without such confirmation no authorisation can be given by the port state and without authorisation no landings can occur.

The decision by NEAFC was transposed into European law as part of the regulation on fishing opportunities for 2007 adopted by the Council of Fisheries Ministers at the end of 2006 [web link to Regulation text]. In a statement made at the time, the Council and Commission recognised the introduction of this scheme as an important step in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Council invited the Commission to come forward, in the course of 2007, with a proposal for a general set of measures on port state control, based on the NEAFC scheme, that would also cover landings and transhipments of fish caught in other areas.

The Commission has since been developing a new package of proposals to combat IUU fishing as one of its priorities. The Council recently reaffirmed its support for this work at the Informal Council Meeting held in Luxembourg on 17 April (SPEECH/07/230). The Commission will include broader measures based on the NEAFC scheme in the proposal for a new Regulation to combat IUU fishing which it plans to table in the autumn.

The contracting parties to NEAFC are: the European Union, Denmark (in respect of the Faeroe Islands and Greenland), Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation. NEAFC has a scheme in place whereby the vessels identified on its black list are banned from entering all ports in Europe. Furthermore, thanks to bilateral agreements and cooperation with Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), in practice, ports in North Africa, North America, Japan and Korea are also closed to them. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.