Today the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) presented the three new EFCA´s chartered patrol vessels, which will serve as additional platforms for EU fisheries inspections in European and international waters.
Following the mandate from the EU institutions to strengthen EFCA´s operational capacity for assisting the Member States and the European Commission in the monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries, as required by the Common Fisheries Policy, EFCA has reinforced its fleet with three new offshore patrol vessels, following the award of a public call for tender. These are the only patrol vessels whose operations are managed by an EU Agency. They have been named as Ocean Guardian, Ocean Protector and Ocean Sentinel.
All three vessels fly the Portuguese flag, and will be deployed primarily as fisheries patrol vessels to support MS in the different EFCA joint deployment plans from the Mediterranean and Black Sea to the Western Waters, North Sea, Baltic Sea, NAFO and NEAFC.
The vessels will also be deployed as fisheries patrol vessel in the scope of multipurpose operations in the framework of European cooperation on coast guard functions. The three vessels, during their operations will also be available for supporting other coast guard functions, inter alia, providing support during search and rescue situations, maritime surveillance and pollution response.
In addition to seaborne means, EFCA has also contracted an aircraft to carry out aerial surveillance services for fisheries control, thus providing an additional tool to support MS in the different EFCA joint deployment plans.
"Today is an important milestone in the history of the Agency. The chartering of three inspection platforms marks a turning point and materializes our strong commitment to support Member States authorities and the European Commission promoting compliance with the fisheries rules, as well as contributing for safe, secure and sustainable sea. The vessels´ modern facilities and technologies ensure a safe and comfortable stay onboard. Their deployment could be seen as a specific oceans safeguarding measure which enhances the EU capacity to improve the effectiveness of fisheries control operations in the EU and beyond ” said Susan Steele, EFCA Executive Director.
Following an open call for tender, in June 2022 EFCA awarded the contract for chartering three offshore fisheries patrol vessels to a consortium led by Sentinel Marine Netherlands. The framework contract between EFCA and the consortium has been signed for an initial period of 24 months and may be renewed up to a total contract duration of six years.
Regarding the airborne control means, in September 2022 EFCA awarded a Specific Contract for aerial surveillance services for fisheries control to DEA. The process was done under the inter-institutional framework service contract for Surveillance Aircraft Services for Border & Coast Guard Functions to which EFCA is a participating institution.
The aircraft, which is a DA62 fit for mid-range maritime multirole surveillance missions, will be deployed until the end of May 2023 to support MS in their specific JDP under direct operational management of EFCA. The intention is to have an aircraft deployed for fisheries patrol purposes on a more permanent basis and in tandem with EFCA chartered OPVs as appropriate.
Summary of the technical data of the vessels
The three EU ships are Multi-Role Emergency Response and Rescue Vessels (ERRV) with overall length of 62 meters each. Two were built in 2018 with the third one in 2020.
All of them have a Dynamic Position System to better maintain their position and balance the environmental forces such as wind, waves and currents during the duty while reducing fuel consumption to a minimum.
The offshore fisheries patrol vessels are fully equipped with ergonomic and modern onboard facilities to ensure a comfortable stay and an enjoyable working environment during the patrols, including space for physical exercise and after work relax.
On each of the ships seven ensuite cabins for single or double use will be available to the Agency, as well as a meeting room with digital projection capacity and high broadband internet connection for live video conferencing as well as access to various fisheries control systems/databases.
The vessels were also required to prove ecological responsibility and have been certified with the ISO 14001, the international standard for environmental management.
EFCA is a European Union agency that promotes the highest common standards for the control, inspection and surveillance under the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). EFCA was established to organise operational coordination activities by the Member States and to assist them to cooperate so as to comply with the rules in order to ensure its effective and uniform application.
The added value of the work of the agency lies in its contribution to sustainable fisheries by enhancing compliance with conservation and management measures and to a European-wide level playing field for the fishing industry.