EFCA Administrative Board adopted the agency’s Annual Report for 2019. The agency supported the Member States and the European Commission in the implementation of the Control regime of the Common Fisheries Policy through the coordination of the Joint Deployments Plans, the development of specific projects related to assessment of compliance with the landing obligation (LO) and new technologies such as Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) and the implementation of capacity building operations in the framework of the international dimension. The European Cooperation on Coast Guard functions enhanced EFCA’s capacity to contribute to an effective and uniform implementation of the CFP. During 2019, the agency extended operational cooperation with EUROPOL and EUROJUST in the framework of the European Multidisciplinary Platform against Criminal Threats, in the fight against illegal fishing activities.
These were the main highlights:
- The new Specific Control and Inspection Programme (SCIP) Commission Implementing Decision introduced some new areas and species. Subsequently it was necessary to widen the scope of the Joint Deployment Plans, through which EFCA provided assistance to Member States and the European Commission in the area of control, inspection and surveillance. In 2019, the cooperative efforts led to 32 381 coordinated inspections, an increase by 20,28% in comparison to 2018 (26 922), and to 1 487 suspected infringements detected, an increase by 108,26% in comparison to 2018 (714). It was carried out without additional EFCA resources.
- EFCA contributed to the work of the Member States Control Expert Groups (CEG), focusing on the implementation of the Landing Obligation, in particular on the Risk Assessment and Compliance evaluation. In response to a joint request from the North Sea (Scheveningen) and North Western Waters CEGs, EFCA finalised the compliance evaluation exercise focused on the landing obligation and certain key species. The evaluation was performed over the period 2015-2017 for mackerel fisheries and over 2016-2017 for North Sea fisheries targeting cod, plaice and sole and for North-western waters (NWW) fisheries targeting haddock, hake and whiting. Similarly, in response to a request from the Baltic Sea Control Expert Group (BALTFISH), EFCA commenced a compliance evaluation exercise on the LO in the Baltic Sea in 2017 and 2018. Moreover, during the second half of 2019, EFCA worked with CEGs on the development of a REM pilot project template.
- EFCA used the framework of the JDPs to enhance the standardisation of inspections, in particular, last haul observation procedures during inspection at sea in all EU JDP areas. The publication of specific technical guidelines was another important milestone in EFCA’s work for standardisation. Particularly, in 2019 EFCA finalised and published guidelines on REM and, in collaboration with Member States, on risk assessment and compliance indicators. To level the playing field, the secondment of EU inspectors to multinational inspection teams contributed to the standardisation of inspection procedures among Member States. More than 1000 staff from EU and non EU countries are now registered in the EFCA e-learning platform.
- EFCA also assisted the European Commission in the framework of international organisations dealing with fisheries, in particular to strengthen operational coordination and compliance in Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (namely, NAFO, NEAFC, ICCAT and GFCM).
- In accordance with the MEDFISH4EVER Declaration, EFCA continued to cooperate with Member States and third countries partners in the Mediterranean to effectively promote a level playing field in the area. The JDP control activities in the Strait of Sicily were implemented in cooperation with Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. In the Black Sea, EFCA led an initiative in the framework of the interagency cooperation, in order to support Bulgarian and Romanian authorities in their fisheries control activities.
- In the fight against IUU activities, EFCA assisted the European Commission with the analysis of 378 catch certificates and 122 processing statements for Panama, Ivory Coast, Ecuador, Vietnam and Maldives.
- In the framework of the five-year EU funded PESCAO project, including a component aiming to improve the fight against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing activities in Western Africa, EFCA continued to provide technical assistance to the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC), the Fisheries Committee for the Western Central Gulf of Guinea (FCWC) and their member countries, in a coordinated manner, using the experience gained in the EU context. A report was drafted on the review of the SRFC and the FCWC member countries’ national legal frameworks related to fisheries control and enforcement.
- Moreover, in the framework of PESCAO, EFCA organised three national trainings on fisheries control and inspection in the Republic of Guinea, Nigeria and The Gambia and two sub-regional courses for FMC operators were organised in Cabo Verde (for Cabo Verde and Guinea Bissau), and one in Abidjan, for Senegal, Guinea, Mauritania, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin and Togo. In addition, the SRFC organised three joint control campaigns during 2019 and EFCA supported all of them.
In the framework of the European Coast Guard cooperation, the cooperation with Frontex and EMSA further developed in the area of capacity building with EFCA coordinating the overall drafting process of the Practical Handbook on European Cooperation on Coast Guard Functions. Moreover, EFCA has led the process to coordinate the follow-up by the three agencies of the European Coast Guard Functions Academies Network. Also, EFCA supported the third workshop of the European Coast Guard Functions Forum (ECGFF) on "Multipurpose Maritime Operations" (MMO) held in Catania, Sicily, Italy from 3 to 5 June 2019 and participated in the Coastex drill.
- EFCA’s chartered Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) was operational for 308 days and provided a robust platform for fisheries inspections leading to a total of 247 inspections and 136 suspected infringements detected. Enhanced capacity sharing with EMSA enabled the EFCA chartered OPV Lundy Sentinel to be upgraded for multipurpose missions; to carry pollution response equipment as well as a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS).
- EFCA’s information systems enabled the collection of data from each Member State providing details of their fishing vessels, catches and other such information. Overall, EFCA was sent Electronic Reporting System-logbook data from 4 564 vessels in 15 Member States and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data from different vessels, throughout all Member States. The volume of VMS messages received by the EFCA VMS was 39.2 million messages.
- Through the meetings of its Advisory Board and of the advisory councils remained abreast of the concerns of the stakeholders. The agency made additional efforts to make the European citizens more familiar with their objectives and undertakings.
During 2019, EFCA has effectively contributed to the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and to the European Coast Guard cooperation. The effective implementation of the CFP is a necessary condition for having healthy and sustainable oceans, at the heart of the EU New Green Deal. Moreover, the contribution of EFCA to the European Coast Guard cooperation is important in the framework of the European Union Maritime Security Strategy, said Pascal Savouret, EFCA Executive Director.