The European Parliament Committee on Fisheries has published a Working Document that evaluates the objectives and targets of the Commission proposal on conserving fishery resources and protecting marine ecosystems through technical measures.

It finds that current regulations have failed to indicate these objectives.

TCM proposal 2016

The proposal suggests that technical measures ‘aim to control the catch that can be taken with a given amount of fishing effort and also to minimise the impacts of fishing on the ecosystem’ but concedes they have not yet led to achieving common fishery policy objectives. The Commission also indicates that problems still exist with measuring effectiveness in helping to achieve CFP conservation measures.

The proposal calls for a ‘results-based management approach’ whereby the Commission has set out targets to reduce, and eliminate where possible, unwanted catches by 2019, and to achieve maximum sustainable yield for all stocks by 2020. It also proposes targets to mitigate the adverse impact of fishing on marine ecosystems to ensure a ‘good environmental status’ by 2020.

To achieve these targets, the Commission proposes environmental, economic, social and compliance indicators to monitor technical measures

‘Data for monitoring would be available under the existing Data Collection Framework; from advice given by the STECF and ICES, as well as annual reports drawn up by EFCA.’

The proposal however fails to make clear the precise nature and characteristics of the social and economic indicators, the Committee finds.

‘The Commission text contains two articles setting out objectives and targets. Article 3 refers to “general and specific objectives” while Article 4 sets out “targets”. However, no clear distinction is made between the two. Furthermore, establishing a set of targets based on compliance with environmental directives could lead to great legal uncertainty.’

Regarding environmental impact assessment requirements, a specific objective relates to providing ‘positive incentives which rewards responsible (fishing practices)’.

The proposal however fails to indicate what kind of incentives are envisaged, the Committee contends. A review and reporting procedure is also outlined, to monitor objective and target achievements based on indicators.

In conclusion, the Committee says the proposal gives rise to questions that should be resolved in the Parliament resolution:

• the necessity to have two different articles concerning objectives and targets respectively and what legal purpose this could serve

• unnecessary reiteration of CFP objectives already set out in the basis regulation

• incentives are not provided despite their necessity among the objectives in line with the accompanying impact assessment provisions

• legal uncertainty could prevail from the use of the term ‘ensure’, especially in the article referring to regulation targets

• some specific objectives could be more accurately classified as general objectives

• directives involving transposition of common provisions into national law do not appear to be the most appropriate instrument to establish regulation objectives

• the Water Framework Directive has nothing to do with CFP technical measures

• descriptors relating to implementation of the Marine Strategy Directive cannot be used to establish environmental objectives or be linked to technical measures

• regulation objectives on technical measures adopted under the Codecision procedure by the European Parliament and the Council should not be established indirectly under the Commission decision on good environmental status of marine waters

• to turn the 5% obligatory catch exemption into an objective is excessive

• unnecessary to reiterate the substance of and to quote verbatim EU provisions in force

• minimise automatic amendment of the regulation by undefined or external elements or procedures to the regulation itself

• the risk of automatic transposition into EU law of agreements concluded between third counties is inadmissible

• Article 4 contains one arbitrarily quantified limit and two unquantified limits that are subject to future modifications originating outside the Codecision procedure and the CFP

• the proposal contains no indicators that provide scientific basis to achieve quantifiable targets

Rapporteur Gabriel Mato concludes that Article 34(2) regarding follow-up should be reviewed.