Statement: EC conservation rules allow some Member States’ fishermen to catch more than their quota. Boats have been installed with and are currently being built with secret holds so that “illegal” fish can be hidden from an inspector’s eye. This is made all the easier by the conspicuous lack of inspectors in certain countries. To add insult to injury, it is clear that some of these boats are registered in the UK, allowing them to fish for the UK’s share of the quota.
Response: It is the Member States that are wholly responsible for the application and enforcement of “Community Technical and Conservation Measures” in relation to fisheries. Equally the Member State authorities are responsible for the management of the share of stocks or group of stocks allocated to the Member States under the Community system of Total Available Catches (TACs) and quotas under the Common Fisheries Policy.
It is for the Member States to determine the conditions which must be fulfilled in order for a vessel to be entered in registers under their control and granted the right to fly their flag. This must be done in accordance with international law. In exercising that power, Member States have to comply with the rules of Community law.
As for secret holds, this is but one of a range of devices by which a small number of errant fishermen try to hide illegal fish. The national inspection services in all Member States are aware of these practices and as the Irish authorities have demonstrated, take the appropriate action.
For its part the Commission does everything in its power to monitor the performance of the Member States’ inspection services by encouraging thorough and efficient control and enforcement of Community regulations.