Birch Synnott, Policy Analyst Intern
After weeks of continued negotiations, on February 5th the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee (PECH) reached a final compromise on a package of legislation aimed at amending and strengthening EU fishery control regulation. The agreement included points settled upon in earlier discussion:
Digitization of logbooks and catch records for fishermen are now mandatory through the CATCH program. While the program has been active since 2019, its status as a purely-voluntary measure meant that it was rarely used in the industry. The reporting system will be available through the TRACES NT platform.
Increased traceability regulation throughout the seafood supply chain will be insured through improved documentation measures and information sharing. Member states will now be required to keep easily-accessible databases of past regulation violations and be able to share that information with other relevant member states or EU bodies.
The most significant development was in regards to the status of Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) devices onboard ships, something the original draft on the amendments had called for as being mandatory. After meeting strong opposition, the committee agreed to limit the clause, instead of allowing the use of REM devices such as CCTV cameras and net sensors on vessels to be voluntary. The clause includes incentives for vessels who choose to adopt these devices, but many observers find it highly unlikely that this will lead to their widespread implementation. The topic of REM devices seems likely to surface once again in later negotiations, possibly leading to the formation of a new compromise.
While negotiations are effectively over, the committee will conduct a final vote for plenary confirmation of the amendments on March 8th.
The next step in this process will be the legislation’s submission to trilogue negotiations by the European Commission. In the trilogue, the European Commission, European Parliament, and Council of the European Union will all meet to discuss the proposal. Only after all three bodies are satisfied with the current state of the amendments will they be passed into law.