EU failing on electronic fishing records

20 Dec 2010
The adoption of EU Directive 1077/2088 requiring skippers to migrate from paper logbooks to an electronic recording and reporting system has been slow.

The adoption of EU Directive 1077/2088 requiring skippers to migrate from paper logbooks to an electronic recording and reporting system has been slow.

The European Union has one of the largest, most advanced fishing fleets in the world but the compliance with its regulation requiring member states’ vessels to introduce electronic fishing records is well short of where it should be, said a leading satellite communications expert.

Inmarsat’s Kyle Hurst told WF that adoption of EU Directive 1077/2088 requiring skippers to migrate from paper logbooks to an electronic recording and reporting system (ERS) has been slow.

It is also the general opinion of the industry that there have been many technology problems and with so many systems available in the market there is a distinct lack of collaboration and progress.

There are other complaints that there appears to be no overall co-ordination and little evidence of shared experiences between states.

The directive, which in 2010 only applied to vessels of an overall length of 24 metres or more, will include vessels over 15 metres from June 2011.

The introduction of ERS by the EU was a bid to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to create a level playing field for catchers. ERS regulations require skippers to complete their fishing logbooks each day before midnight (as with paper logbooks) and transmit this data back to shore authorities.

But member states raised concerns about how incompatible the technology was and how it was hampering progress at an autumn meeting of the ERS steering group in Athens.

According to Hurst, there is a body of opinion within the fishing industry that thinks the EU has not handled the implementation of ERS well. So, should the EU adopt a stronger more centralised approach to ERS implementation to get the legislation back on track quickly, he asks.

Oliver Drewes, EU Commission spokesman for maritime affairs and fisheries believes a more centralised approach is now likely.  “Insufficient progress has been made so far and we are discussing with member states how the EU can improve compliance performance,” said Drewes.

The transition from paper logbooks to ERS is relatively straightforward for most fishermen. The fishing industry is no stranger to technology. Many rely on satellite communication services like FleetBroadband for downloading large weather or oceanographic files to help them find and catch fish faster. Talking to other fishers, checking fish prices on the internet and negotiating a sale while still at sea, over the phone or via email is all in a day’s work.

The industry was not expected to achieve 100% compliance of all 24-metre vessels in a single year. Drewes said the EU was expecting 3,350 vessels to be compliant at the start of 2010, but at the time of writing only 1,000 vessels over 24 metres have registered as using ERS.

Member states have an option to choose older technology (Inmarsat C) or the newer Internet Protocol (IP)-based technology like FleetBroadband, said Hurst, who added that the latter is seen by many in the fishing industry as a better long-term investment, and a future proof technology that will promote the advancement of fisheries capture, monitoring and marketing.

Ireland is believed to be the first to go down the IP route, followed by Spain and the UK. Those using the Inmarsat C technology include Denmark, Poland, Germany and Italy, while France, depending on the ERS equipment involved in the solution, use both according to Olivier Forner, office manager of information systems for fisheries and aquaculture within the French government.

Kyle Hurst is responsible for the fisheries sector at Inmarsat. He has spent the last 12 months investigating the technology packages on the market, the decisions behind the procurement and the success or failure of the technology as member states progress towards electronic logbooks. To gauge the latest progress on eLogbook compliance, he spoke to a number of member states and has prepared an exclusive article for the World Fishing website detailing his findings.

That article will be live on our site on Tuesday 21 December 2010.

 

 

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