New, simplified EU programme for fisheries data collection: Commission clarifies rules for Member States

The European Commission has taken another step in fleshing out the rules for data collection in the fisheries sector.

Guidance published today will give the Member States, who are responsible for the collection of relevant data, a clearer idea on how to build sound data collection plans for the period 2017-2020. The guidance is part of Commission efforts to simplify and streamline the existing data collection framework, making it easier for fishermen and Member States to comply with EU rules.

Under the new EU data collection programme, Member States have until 31 October 2016 to prepare plans setting out how they intend to collect fisheries data in the period 2017-2020. These national “workplans” will be assessed by scientific experts before the Commission gives its approval.

The streamlined rules will pave the way for gathering more and better data to help close persistent gaps in our knowledge about fish stocks. They will give scientists and decision-makers a better idea of how fisheries are affecting marine and maritime ecosystems, while also providing more data on the Mediterranean and long distance fisheries.

Reliable fisheries data are needed to assess the health of fish stocks and the marine environment and meet the EU’s objective of ensuring sustainable fisheries by 2020 at the latest. The European Union has continuously promoted fisheries data collection, and has increased funding of data collection activities under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) since 2014.

Fisheries data are collected in a number of ways: in ports or at sea by observers on board commercial fishing vessels, through scientific surveys at sea to locate and follow fish stocks, by compiling control data from logbooks, sales notes and satellite data, and through socio-economic surveys of the fisheries, aquaculture and processing sectors.

The European Commission proposed to simplify the current data collection rules in June last year. This proposal is currently being discussed in the European Parliament and in the Council. The rules adopted today will ensure that systematic and consistent data collection continues in the meantime.

Source: DG MARE

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