Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (1013, 1014, 1015)

Holly Cairns

Question:

1013. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the preparations and actions his Department and all relevant agencies under his remit have taken to date to ensure the smooth introduction of regulation given the recent agreement by the fisheries committee of the European Parliament on a proposal to update the control regulation for fishing activities in the EU and in particular relating to the geolocation and electronic logbook mandatory for small boats aspect of the proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8354/21]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

1014. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine if he will consult in an extensive and meaningful manner with industry well in advance of the implementation of regulations resulting from the proposal to update the control regulation for fishing activities in the EU given that recent agreement by the fisheries committee of the European Parliament on a proposal to update the control regulation for fishing activities in the EU will impact hundreds of operators in the inshore sector and the potential challenges it presents for them including possessing the digital capacity to comply with such regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8355/21]

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Holly Cairns

Question:

1015. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the steps he is taking to support the inshore sector in meeting challenges complying with the EU fisheries committee proposal to update the control regulation for fishing activities in the EU; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8356/21]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1013 to 1015, inclusive, together.

Council Regulation 1224/2009, known as the Control Regulation, establishes a Community control system for ensuring compliance with the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy and establishing a level playing-field across the EU on fisheries control.

In 2018, the Commission published a proposal to amend the Control Regulation. The negotiations on the revised EU Control Regulation are currently ongoing at the Council Working Party. The Portuguese Presidency has indicated its intention to bring a general approach on the proposal to the Council of Fisheries Ministers in June. The European Parliament is also discussing the Commission's proposal for a Regulation and is in the process of preparing its own recommended amendments to the text. Earlier this month, the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee published its draft report on the proposal which will be submitted for approval at the European Parliament plenary on 8 March. When both the Council and the Parliament have formally adopted their positions, trilateral negotiations will commence involving the EU Council, the European Parliament and the Commission.

My Department has been engaged fully in the negotiation process and continues to be actively involved in the ongoing discussions with the Presidency, other Member States and the Commission on the proposal. My Department has consulted with stakeholders during this process and will continue to keep them apprised of developments.

I am supportive of many of the proposed changes in the Commission proposal that strengthens the EU arrangements for control, inspection and enforcement. I am also seeking that measures introduced are proportionate, support simplification, cost efficiency and reducing administrative burden for Member States and industry. In relation to inshore vessels, we are supporting the principle of a tracking system for smaller vessels and a simplified and more flexible electronic system for the recording of catches by these vessels. We are seeking that new systems be introduced on a phased basis.

The Programme for Government sets down an ambitious programme of actions that promote a sustainable seafood industry, including supporting the completion of the new Fisheries Control Regulation to increase the effectiveness of existing control measures and agree rules that will ensure a level playing field for all EU vessels.