RACs - Regional Advisory Councils
EBCD is member of the Executive Committee of the Long Distance RAC, the North West Waters RAC and the Pelagic RAC.
In accordance with its main principle of full stakeholders involvement EBCD actively participates to the works of the several working groups, executive committees and general assemblies, contributing with its expertise and network.
The Regional Advisory Councils are stakeholder-led organisations established by the Commission in order to deepen stakeholder participation in policy making.
They were created as part of the 2002 reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, to give stakeholders – fishermen, vessel owners, processors, traders, fish farmers, women’s fisheries groups, environmental and consumer organisations and others – a vehicle through which to feed recommendations into CFP policy developments.
Their role is to submit opinions to the Commission and Member States on different aspects of fisheries management.
They also provide useful arenas for bringing together people from different backgrounds and helping to develop a better understanding between the scientific community and the fishing industry.
They are not part of the formal decisionmaking process, but the quality of their advice, based on practical experience of the local waters and fisheries concerned, gives them influence. The Commission is not under any legal obligation to consult them, but in practice it does so.
Composition and structure
Each RAC must include stakeholders from at least two Member States. They each have a general assembly, an executive committee and different working groups or focus groups. Each RAC is free to establish the groups it needs to perform its work. The WGs discuss issues in detail and prepare draft positions for the Executive Committee, which decides on the advice or recommendations sent to different authorities.
The fisheries sector has two thirds of the representatives on each body, and other interests one third.
The ‘fisheries sector’ is defined as including ship owners, small-scale fishermen, employed fishermen, producer and other market organisations, processors, traders and women’s networks. ‘Other interest groups’ range from environmental organisations, aquaculture producers and consumers to recreational and sport fishermen.
The Commission and regional and national representatives of Member States may be present at the meetings as observers.
Non-members such as experts and observers may be invited to participate to the RAC’s work.
The meetings of the general assembly and the executive committee are open to the public.
The RACs adopt recommendations and suggestions on fishery policies in the area the RAC covers, and submit them to the Commission and/or to the relevant national authorities. Submissions may be in response to a request from these bodies or on the RACs’ own initiative. Recommendations and suggestions are adopted where possible, by consensus. They are drafted and discussed in the various working group and then deferred to the general assembly for adoption.
The Commission and relevant Member States should respond to a RAC’s recommendation within three months at the latest.
The European Commission meets with the RACs on a regular basis to discuss current policy initiatives and priorities, as well as to ensure coordination on issues that concern all RACs.
There are seven Regional Advisory Councils under the CFP. Five are based on geographically and biologically coherent zones. The two others are based on the exploitation of certain stocks: pelagic stocks in Community waters (except in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas), and high-sea fisheries outside Community waters.
Baltic Sea RAC , operational since March 2006, it covers ICES areas IIIb, IIIc, IIId. The members are from Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden.
The Working groups are on: demersal; pelagic; salmon and sea trout fisheries.
Long Distance RAC, operational since March 2007 in all non-EU waters, it attracted interest from Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Spain, France, Portugal, Poland, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Ireland and the UK.
The working groups are on): highly migratory fish stocks and related Regional Fisheries Organisations (RFOs); RFOs and Northern agreements; long distant waters not included in any RFO; bilateral relations with third countries; horizontal issues (such as health and safety, IUU).
Mediterranean Sea RAC, operational since September 2008, it brings together organisations from Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and Slovenia.
North Sea RAC, operational since November 2004, it covers ICES areas IV, IIIa. The members are from Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom.
The wworking groups are on demersal species; flatfish; spatial planning; Kattegat and Skaggerak; socio-economic issues.
North-western waters RAC, operational since September 2005, it covers ICES V (excluding Va and only EC waters in Vb), VI, VII. The members are from Belgium, Spain, France, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK.
The working groups are on West of Scotland (ICES areas Vb (EC), VIa, VIb) – Western Approaches; West of Ireland and Celtic Sea (ICES areas VII except d, e & a); English Channel (ICES areas VIId & e); Irish Sea (ICES area VIIa).
Pelagic stocks RAC, operational sicne August 2005, it focuses on blue whiting, mackerel, horse mackerel and herring in all EU waters except the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean. The members are from Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and United Kingdom.
The working groups are on herring and mackerel; blue whiting, horse mackerel and other species.
South-western waters RAC, operational since April 2007, it covers ICES areas VIII, IX and X (waters around Azores) and CECAF divisions 34.1.1. 34.1.2 and 34.2.0 (waters around Madeira and the Canary Islands). The members are from Belgium, France, Portugal, Netherlands and Spain.
The working groups are on ICES areas VIII and IX (except anchovy and sardine); pelagic stocks (anchovy, sardine and ICCAT species); insular subdivision; traditional fisheries. There is also a focus group on deep water species.