Collaborative Sustainable Innovation

co-designing small-scale fisheries governance approaches

Women in small-scale fisheries will play a key role in implementing the new EU Fisheries Control system – why is nobody asking them what they think?*

The new Fisheries Control Regulation currently before the European Parliament’s PECH Committee aims to be “simple, transparent and effective”, according to Spanish MEP Clara Aguilera, the Rapporteur in charge of this file. In practice, the new Regulation will require the phasing out of paper-based recording (such as paper log books) so that recording and reporting of fishing activities eventually move to digitised ‘fully documented fisheries’, irrespective of vessel size. The thinking is that this will make for better communication between Member States and with the Commission and result in a more efficient and effective control system. The Regulation is supposed to be technologically neutral – in other words it should not prescribe the use of any specific technology to achieve its aims.

During the two hour discussion between Fisheries Committee MEPs on Thursday 30 April, the majority of contributing MEPs expressed concern at the disproportionate impact the Regulation will have on small-scale fisheries. They emphasised the need to understand the on-the-ground realities of small-scale fishing, the need for support (financial and training) for the additional administrative and financial burdens, concern that digitisation (such as the electronic logbook) will impose undue burdens on small-scale fishers (SSF) who were already under huge pressure, even before the global pandemic.

There was, however, no discussion around the practical realities of who exactly will be coping with the burden of these changes to current operating procedures with the introduction of new digital tools and software to successfully report catch and to comply with the landing obligation.