Penalty Points for Fishermen

At the beginning of the year, work commenced on a new draft regulation which effectively will become a super regulation.

This regulation is an attempt by Brussels to harmonise the approach taken to the common fisheries policy. It is hoped by the authors of this regulation, that it will achieve ‘ high standards and should ensure uniform implementation of control policy of member state level’.

The changes that have been proposed are nothing short of staggering. Perhaps the biggest deviation from previous regimes is the creation of penalty points for fishermen! This system will operate almost like the approach taken to motor vehicles.

Basically the holder of a fishing authorisation, receives penalty points as a result of an infringement against the rules of the CFP (common fisheries policy). Each member state shall assign points to fishermen as a result of an infringement. The member state will set a maximum allowable number of points. When the total number of points allowed equals or exceeds that number, the first time that number is reached and the fishing authorisation shall be suspended for six months. On the second occasion one year and on the third occasion the fishing authorisation shall be permanently withdrawn. As the regulation stands there would appear to be no fourth chance.

The regulation also stipulates that a serious infringement, such as fishing with undersized nets, requires the penalty points to be assigned to be at least 50% of the total.

Increased fines………

The next issue of grave concern relates to the new fine structure first serious infringements the minimum finding €5000 and the maximum fine being €300,000. In the case of a repeat serious infringement within five years, the minimum fine shall be €10,000 and the maximum fine shall be €600,000. Currently in the maximum possible fine, under Irish legislation, is under thousand euro and unlike the draft regulation there is no reference as to the size of the fishing vessel.

And it continues…..

And there is a whole host of other changes being introduced. These include:
— the introduction of an automatic identification system
— all vessels greater than 10 m must have a working vessel monitoring system (VMS) although there is an exemption system proposals up to 15 m who stay in Irish waters and spend less than 24 hours at sea
— the regulation also proposes a reduction in the allowable catch before it must be entered in the logbook from 50 kilograms to 15.
— the electronic book is also introduced. This will apply to all fishing vessels greater than 10 m and the information contained on the logbook will be sent once a day. Vessels greater than 15 m and up to 24 m, shall have this electronic logbook as of the 1 July 2011 and vessels from 10 m to 15 m, from 1 January to those in 12. There is similar exemption from vessels under 15 m as referred to above.
— permitted tolerance of estimates recorded in the logbook has been reduced to 5%.
— in relation to the four-hour prior notification the electronic logbook will also have to be transmitted with this prior notification.
— transhipments may now only take place in Port.
— in relation to landing declarations, where the vessel is greater than 10 m, the declaration be submitted by electronic means within two hours after completion of the landing. This will be introduced at the same time as the electronic logbook. Again, then exemption exists vessels under 15 m
— where a vessel is exempted from the two hour rule, the landing declaration must be submitted within 24 hours.
— there are new emergency powers granted to member states to close fishing grounds. These are to be real-time closures and various proposals are contained in the regulation for the setting up of a website to communicate this information.
— once 80% of the quota is exhausted Ireland must inform the commission.

It does not stop there………..

-The regulation also introduces a new section on engine power and creates offences or engines have been tampered or exceed the certified power rating on the licence.
— Ireland will also be granted powers to examine engines on a case-by-case basis
— For the first time, Ireland will be granted powers to restrict landing times in ports.
— the regulation creates an obligation on Ireland to develop multiannual plans detailing species of fish that are targeted for recovery. Fish that are subject to those plans must be separately stored at all times be it on board, in storage or during transit.
— boxes containing such species must be properly marked with a label indicating the Fish called and be kept separate in the hold.
— in the logbook where different mesh sizes are used during the same voyage, it must be indicated what catch was cast with what mesh size.
— the vessel monitoring system will be altered to incorporate which can automatically detect the entry of the fishing vessel into a Marine protected area. This alarm will signal both on the post and in the fisheries monitoring centre in Cork.
-there is a proposal that all discards over 15 kg will now have to be recorded in the logbook.
— there will also be a new emphasis in the examination of logbooks for cross checks to take place on an electronic basis between the logbook, sales note, transport documents and invoices. The regulation proposes to introduce a new regime for each and every one of the above documents.
— where her trigger by catch level has been reached at fishing area shall be temporarily closed to fisheries and this will not exceed 10 days.
— there is an obligation now on operators responsible for the selling, starting or transporting fish to be able to prove the geographical origin of the products, expressed by reference to a Sub-area and division or subdivision or statistical rectangle.
— the radiation seeks to introduce new common marketing standards for fish as well as full traceability its products much along the lines of what the beef industry has introduced this is to include a labelling regime which has yet to be drafted.
— all registered buyers purchasing fishery and aquaculture products shall ensure that all fish received are weighed on scales approved by the competent authorities. The figures which are generated from such weighing are the figures which shall be used for the completion of landing declarations, sales note and take over declarations.
— registered buyers and registered auction is were responsible for the first marketing of fishery products landed in a member state, shall submit electronically, within two hours after the first sale, our sales note to the competent authorities.
— it will now be responsibility of the transport company to generate the transport document. The transport company will be fully liable for the contents of that document.
— this transport document shall be transmitted within 24 hours following the loading of the fishery products.
— and there is also provision for the monitoring of producers organisations
-there is to be enhanced follow-up where catches as mis-recorded by more than 500 kg or 10% of the logbook.

And it does not Stop with the trawlers………..

Substantial time is spent in the in the Regulation dealing with the creation of an industry punishment regime.

Where over fishing has occurred there are new mechanisms that allow for the deduction from future quotas.

This works in conjunction with real time closures.

All in all the Regulation is a big step up in terms of regulation of the CFP.

Dermot Conway
contact Dermot at 0214901000 or