It is assumed that the Deputy is referring to the concept of ‘fully documented fisheries’ as this is what the CFP had always promised to deliver and not to ‘a fully documented ecosystem’ which is a concept which does not exist, as such. This would mean that it was possible to know and quantify what every living thing in the entire marine ecosystem is doing at any given time – which is clearly impossible. I am responding therefore on the basis that what the Deputy is actually referring to is ‘fully documented fisheries’ (where the activities of individual vessels are effectively monitored) and that what is being asked here is whether or not (i) fully documented fisheries; (ii) the ecosystem approach and (iii) the precautionary approach were included in the basic regulation. I thank the Deputy for raising these important but complex aspects which I will now deal with separately.
(i) Fully Documented Fisheries
The requirements for all Member States to ensure detailed and accurate documentation of fishing trips is contained in article 15.8 which stipulates that:
- Member States shall ensure detailed and accurate documentation of all fishing trips and adequate capacity and means for the purpose of monitoring compliance with the obligation to land all catches, inter alia such means as observers, CCTV and other. In doing so, Member States shall respect the principle of efficiency and proportionality.”
(ii) The Ecosystem approach
The requirement to consider the broader marine ecosystem is provided for in Article 2.3 of the basic regulation, which states that:
- The Common Fisheries Policy shall implement the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management to ensure the negative impacts of fishing activities on the marine ecosystem are minimised, and shall endeavour to ensure that aquaculture and fisheries activities avoid the degradation of the marine environment.
(iii) The Precautionary approach
The precautionary approach is provided for in Article 2 of the basic regulation, which states that:
- “The Common Fisheries Policy shall apply the precautionary approach to fisheries management, and shall aim to ensure that exploitation of living marine biological resources restores and maintains populations of harvested species above levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield. This exploitation rate shall be achieved by 2015, where possible and by 2020 for all stocks at the latest.” Recital (9) provides: “Sustainable exploitation of marine biological resources should be based on the precautionary approach, which is to be derived from the precautionary principle referred to in the first subparagraph of Article 191(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), taking into account available scientific data.”
It is important to bear in mind that reform of the Common Fisheries Policy has been a significant achievement for the Irish Presidency and when taken as a whole, delivers on not just a resolution to the long term difficulty of discards but also provides the means for new ways of sustainable fishing, a more transparent and competitive market, as well as empowering fishermen by giving them a central role in decision making for their fisheries.