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New framework for fisheries technical measures

During the January plenary session, Parliament is expected to vote on a Commission proposal restructuring the EU framework for fisheries technical measures, with the aim of setting a mandate for trilogue negotiations. The new framework is expected to simplify the application of technical measures and to allow their adjustment to specific regional characteristics.


Fisheries technical measures are rules that determine the conditions under which fishermen may fish, so as to limit unwanted catches and the impact of fishing on marine ecosystems. They concern the characteristics of fishing gear and the way it is used, the minimum size of the fish which may be caught, the closure or limitation of fishing in certain areas or during certain periods e.g. to protect juvenile or spawning fish, and the preservation of sensitive species or habitats. Technical measures are currently scattered across around 30 pieces of EU legislation, in a regulatory structure which has become notoriously complicated and came to be seen as a plethora of ineffective rules under rigid governance.

European Commission proposal

On 11 March 2016, the Commission adopted a proposal to establish a new legislative framework that would change the governance structure of technical measures. The proposal is intended to simplify the current system, to increase its flexibility through a regionalised approach adapted to the specificities of each EU sea basin, and to optimise the contribution of the technical measures to the objectives of the common fisheries policy. The new framework is principally structured around two types of measures:

„h The common technical measures apply to all EU sea basins and have a permanent nature. They include provisions on prohibited gear and practices, protection of sensitive species and habitats, restrictions on the use of towed gears and static nets (including existing restrictions on the use of driftnets), measurement of a marine organism’s size and the use of catches below the minimum size, and reduction of discarding.

„h The regional technical measures, applicable to a specific area, are set out in the annexes to the proposal. They define the minimum conservation reference sizes (i.e. the size of a marine organism below which its capture through fishing should be avoided), the mesh sizes, the areas closed or restricted to fishing, the mitigation measures for sensitive species, and the use of innovative fishing methods (i.e. electric pulse trawls). These measures are supplemented by general principles for regionalisation, delegating to the Commission the power to establish regional measures, in particular under multiannual plans and temporary discard plans, based on joint recommendations submitted by regional groups of Member States.

European Parliament position

On 21 November 2017, Parliament's Committee on Fisheries (PECH) adopted its report on the proposal, but did not give a mandate for trilogue negotiations. The report recognises the need for a regional approach, and considers that future regional measures should be adopted in the context of multiannual plans or, if no such plan is in place, through delegated acts. It supports even treatment of all regional fisheries management organisations, and the current way of transposing the measures they agree. It extends the scope of the proposal, so that technical measures also apply to recreational fisheries. As for the controversial electric pulse trawl fishing, the report maintains the current limitation to no more than 5% of a country’s concerned fleet.


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