The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) celebrates this week its first decade in Spain in the city of Vigo on 9 October 2018. The EFCA moved its headquarters from Brussels to Spain (Vigo), in July 2008 in accordance with its founding regulation.
EFCA´s primary role is to organise coordination and cooperation between national control and inspection activities so that the rules of the CFP are respected and applied effectively. European Union governments agreed to establish the agency in the 2002 reform as part of the drive to instill a culture of compliance within the fisheries sector across Europe. In April 2005, the Council adopted the founding legislation with Council Regulation (EC) No 768/2005. After its amendment in 2016, the Agency, in cooperation with the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) and the European Maritime Safety Agency, each within its mandate, supports the national authorities carrying out coast guard functions.
During this very intense decade, the Agency has proven its European added value and fulfilled the objectives that have guided its work. The added value of the work of the agency lies in its contribution to a European-wide level playing field for the fishing industry so that European obligations are observed by everyone and everyone in the sector is treated equally, wherever they might be operating.Moreover, it contributes towards sustainable fisheries by enhancing compliance with existing conservation and management measures to the benefit of present and future generations.
What have been EFCA main milestones during these years?
In ten years, EFCA joint deployment plans (JDPs), the legal and operational vehicle through with EFCA organises operational coordination, increased their coverage. In 2019, the JDP may encompass nearly all the regulated EU species, widely covering now commercial species of both demersal and pelagic fisheries in EU and international waters.
EFCA has been a service provider to Member States supporting them through training programmes and risk management, pooling assets and intelligence, leading to strategic planning of the control campaigns and ensuring the cost-efficiency in the deployment of means and the control effort.
EFCA is a recognised honest broker that can steer discussions and provide a platform for exchange for technical solutions in this ever-evolving landscape of fisheries control.
The success of EFCA´s operational cooperation model, sharing assets and intelligence and with mixed teams of inspectors extended to multipurpose operations in cooperation with Frontex and EMSA in support of national authorities carrying out coast guard functions.
Developing risk management processes, compliance monitoring, harmonised inspection procedures, assisting the dialogue with the industry, exploring the feasibility of Remote Electronic Monitoring, and operational concept, as the specific actions have been the building blocks of EFCA support of the Member States and the Commission in the implementation of the landing obligation.
EFCA has supported the European Commission in its international dimension and especially in its fight against illegal unregulated and undeclared fishing (IUU). The cooperation model that EFCA has initiated for the European Union inspired the European Programme PESCAO in West Africa with a view to reinforce fisheries management and reduce food insecurity in the region with EFCA yielding capacity building and training.
A recent pilot project in the Strait of Sicily demonstrated that enhanced cooperation among the Mediterranean actors was achievable that paved the way for the establishment of an international control scheme concretising the political commitments made at the MedFish4ever declaration. A second pilot project has been carried out now in the Black Sea
EFCA has provided tangible tools such as the production of manuals (core curriculum) and training programmes that have been crucial for the harmonisation of fisheries control measures, the creation of a level playing field and an increased transparency among the Member States
With 68 staff members and their families living in Vigo, EFCA has taken roots in the country and city that hosts it. Every week there are several trainings and workshops organised in EFCA that bring to Vigo experts and officials from all over Europe and third countries. EFCA also takes part in city initiatives that reach out to citizens such as sponsoring a street art mural or organising workshops on ocean sustainability for children at Vigo Sea Fest.