EFCA has implemented a pilot project for fisheries control to improve compliance with the adopted conservation measures in the Strait of Sicily as regards hake and deep water rose shrimp following 2016 General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM’s) recommendation. The pilot project coordinated by EFCA, also represents the first tangible result towards the commitment made at the Malta Medfish4ever ministerial declaration, in particular to develop a culture of compliance and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the area and supporting the GFCM in the development of control systems and where appropriate, Joint Schemes of International Inspection.
The Malta Declaration acknowledged that control and inspection are essential elements for the success of conservation and management measures in the Mediterranean. Indeed, this unique basin which provides jobs for over 300 000 people and in which about 90% of assessed stocks are over-exploited, requires that the different states in the area cooperate as fish do not understand about borders. A cooperation between all the basin countries is a precondition for a culture of compliance in the area.
The objective of the pilot project was to explore the possibilities for implementing cooperation in the GFCM area among its contracting parties and to highlight the need for an International Control Scheme in the area to ensure compliance and a level playing field for all the fleets operating in international waters.
The pilot project aimed at promoting regional cooperation and integrated control measures and providing the tools and experience to GFCM in order to support and enhance their conservation and management measures. It has been implemented on request of the European Commission, in full consultation with Member States and with the involvement of some non EU countries concerned, namely Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia. In the framework of the EU Coastguard cooperation with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Boarder and Coastguard Agency (FRONTEX), the EFCA has made use of the sharing of assets and information that this synergy provides.
The project has focused on the following activities: training, data exchange, the joint inspections at sea and the use of new technologies. At the end of the year, common implementation rules and infringement procedures will be explored.
In summary, the following results should be highlighted:
Control operations and joint inspections were undertaken in the area from August to September during the period of closure for fishing activities. Two patrol vessels and one aircraft operated by EFCA in cooperation with EMSA and FRONTEX were operative in the area with presence of inspectors from Egypt and Tunisia, and from Member States, as Malta, Greece and Italy. A total of 70 inspections at sea were implemented with around 30% of possible non-compliance cases detected. Exchange of information and a joint coordination was ensured from EFCA during all the operational activities.
Three training sessions have been delivered for 34 inspectors and trainers from third countries.
"The pilot project sets a precedent in demonstrating that cooperation is possible among the GFCM contracting parties and shows their will to concretise the political commitments made at the MedFish4ever declaration," said Pascal Savouret.