By Birch Synnott, Policy Analyst Intern
On Monday, January 25th, the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee (PECH) convened to vote on a package of amendments (full text here) with the purpose of updating and strengthening the EU’s fishery control regulations. Measures that were accepted on Monday included the digitization of logbooks and catch records, additional regulations for small fishing vessels, and a reworking of the punitive points system for regulation violations. While the majority of the amendments passed, the committee failed to adopt the required use of remote electronic monitoring (REM) devices aboard fishing vessels, which proponents of the rule say weakens industry accountability. However, the committee will have a second chance today to vote on REM use, when it is scheduled to be introduced again as an individual amendment.
Together, these amendments constitute a large step forwards towards more sustainable fishing in EU waters. By moving records online, EU and individual member states will benefit from an increased gathering and sharing of information, a crucial part of maintaining bloc-wide sustainable fishing operations. The committee also anticipates a reduction in overfishing and increased control of protected marine areas as outcomes of this legislation. A final vote to formally accept all previously passed amendments will take place Friday, February 5th. All regulations- with the exception of an article concerning data sharing between member states- will enter into force 24 months after their official acceptance by the committee.