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Member States cooperate on controls to save cod in the North Sea

Today, the Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) adopted an operational plan for joint multi-national fishery controls in the North Sea and adjacent areas. This marks the start of an innovative and coordinated effort to combat over-fishing and save endangered cod stocks. This joint deployment plan for the North Sea will pool resources (inspectors, control vessels, aircraft, etc), from seven coastal Member States and use them to ensure more effective and uniform control of fishing activities. The plan, which consists of seven cross border inspection and surveillance campaigns, will run until the end of the year.  Similar plans will be put in place in the other EU fishing areas. 

"I very much welcome this first joint deployment plan under the aegis of the new Community Fisheries Control Agency. Such plans will ensure that available resources are used in the most efficient and effective way. The Member States involved show a very good example of cooperation both among themselves and with the new fisheries control Agency. Such plans will help increase fishermen's confidence and trust in more uniform fisheries control and inspection throughout the Union", commented Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs.

"The adoption of the first joint deployment plan is a milestone for the Community Fisheries Control Agency. I am pleased that we have been able to coordinate this complex venture during the first six months of our Agency being in operation; and doubly pleased that the Member States have been so willing and able to contribute to our efforts! This gives rise to hopes that the benefits of the plan will stretch far beyond the seven inspection campaigns, to foster more cooperation overall, and further harmonisation of fisheries controls, thus creating a level playing field for fishermen in all EU waters", commented Harm Koster, Executive Director of the CFCA.

The joint deployment plan for the North Sea, Kattegat, Skagerrak and the Eastern Channel is the first of its kind. It coordinates the use of resources pooled by seven EU Member States: Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The focus of the plan is the monitoring programme for the recovery of cod stocks, which was established in 2005. The inspections and surveillance activities will concentrate on fishing vessels using gear types that are likely to catch cod either as a targeted fishery or as by-catch. There will also be inspections of transport and marketing of cod.

Each of the seven joint campaigns will be steered each time by one of the Member State, supported by the CFCA. The inspection teams will be mixed, and the inspection vessels and surveillance aircraft will be pooled from different Member States. Inspection vessels will be able to enter into the fishing zones of another Member State. They will, however, need the consent of that Member State for access to its territorial waters and should carry at least one inspector from the country concerned. The Member States have been requested to give prior consent for access to territorial waters by all inspections vessels and surveillance aircraft that will be used in the different campaigns.

Under the Common Fisheries Policy, each Member State is responsible for ensuring the proper application of fisheries measures in its own waters and on its own territory. In response to the need for a level playing field for EU fishermen, and to foster a culture of compliance with fisheries rules, the Community Fisheries Control Agency was established as part of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in 2002. Operational since the beginning of 2007, the Agency aims to organise coordination and cooperation between national control and inspection activities, so that the rules of the CFP are respected and applied effectively. The seat of the Agency is in Vigo, Spain. It is provisionally located in Brussels.