Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg, inaugurated the new offices at a ceremony attended by Spanish Minister of Environment, Marine and Rural Affairs Elena Espinosa, President of the Galician Government Emilio Perez Touriño and many prominent personalities in the field of fisheries.
The Community Fisheries Control Agency is a cornerstone of the EU's efforts to ensure sustainability in Europe's fisheries sector. Operational since the beginning of 2007, the Agency organises coordination and cooperation between national control and inspection activities, to ensure that the rules of the EU's common fisheries policy are respected and applied effectively.
Commissioner Joe Borg commented: "The Agency's relocation to Vigo marks its coming of age as a vital link in the chain of control and enforcement under the common fisheries policy. The Agency's Joint Deployment Plans have proven their worth in preventing the overfishing of vulnerable stocks, whether it be cod in the Baltic or bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean. As we prepare for a major overhaul of the control mechanisms of the common fisheries policy, the Commission looks forward to building on its strong working relationship with the Agency, and we will actively support any initiative which would make it even more effective."
The decision to establish the Agency was taken in 2002 as part of the reform of the common fisheries policy (CFP). Its priorities are to contribute to the recovery of depleted stocks, the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities and the reduction of discards. Its main working method is the operational coordination of pooled national means of control, inspection and surveillance, above all through Joint Deployment Plans focusing in particular on fisheries. In this way, the Agency not only strengthens the monitoring and control of CFP rules, but also helps ensure that they are applied uniformly throughout the EU. The Agency also liaises with the stakeholder-led Regional Advisory Councils to secure input from the fisheries sector and other stakeholders into CFP control policy and to promote a culture of compliance.
The activities undertaken by the Agency so far include three major coordination tasks, which were launched in 2007 and have continued into this year:
- coordination of EU control, inspection and surveillance activities in the regulatory area of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO);
- a Joint Deployment Plan to combat overfishing and save endangered cod stocks in the North Sea by pooling resources (inspectors, control vessels, aircraft, etc.) from seven Member States thereby providing more effective and uniform control of fishing activities in seven control campaigns over a total of more than 100 campaign days;
- a joint inspection and surveillance campaign in support of the long-term management plan for cod in the Baltic Sea, which deploys resources pooled by the coastal Member States in six campaigns over a total of more than 80 campaign days.
In 2008, the Agency launched a Joint Deployment Plan to protect the vulnerable bluefin tuna stocks in the East Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea.
The decision to locate the Agency in Spain (Vigo) was taken by the Heads of State and Government at a meeting of the European Council in December 2003. The Agency was still based in Brussels, however, when it launched its first annual work programme in 2007. The Agency currently has 41 staff members from 15 EU Member States. It will be fully staffed (with 55 staff members) by the end of 2008.