Agriculture and Fisheries Council: AOB: Fisheries control regulation, MoT

On Monday, 29 April 2024, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council discussed an AOB tabled by Latvia on the Margin of Tolerance.

LT and LV fishers would be facing a huge issue because of the provisions regarding the Margin of Tolerance (MoT) (Article 14 of the Control Regulation) when they enter into place. This is related mainly to the bycatch of unregulated species.

Data from fishing logbook from 2023 show that in 72% of small pelagic fisheries have bycatches of unregulated species of 2% or slightly more. The MoT threshold of 10% per species would be surpassed.

When fishing for herring and sprat there is a bycatch of unregulated species including the undesirable and invasive round goby. The cumulative bycatch of these unregulated species is small, between 1,5 and 2%. It is very difficult to visually determine the volume of these species when at sea, leading to a significant difference when weighing in port. According to regulation this would be a serious MoT infringement with sanctions. This is disproportionate and inadequate according to LT and LV. These bycatches are useful in the case of invasive species and unavoidable.

Solutions have to be found and LT and LV ask for special provisions in the Implementing Act. Another solution would be to reduce the level of seriousness of the infringement. Otherwise, all fishers will be in breach of the rules.

The Commission explained that there are limits to what they can do through the implementing act (defined scope on weighting of landings in ports that meets specific conditions and safeguards in order to derogate from the standard MoT of 10% per species). The Commission cannot derogate from the MoT or alter the sanctioning regime for infringements.

To meet the LV request, the Control Regulation itself would need to be amended. Other options are looked at with LV. The COM believes that it would be possible to address the issue at technical level.

The Council took note of the information provided by LV and LT, of the comments of Member States and of the Commission.

Agriculture and Fisheries Council 29.04.2024reportREV

Date Posted: May 3, 2024

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