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“Study on information systems supporting fisheries controls in the European Union” (CFCA/2010/B/02)

Name of client: European Fisheries Control Agency

Name of partners: MRAG

Dates (start/end): 9/2010-11/2011

The study contributed to the formulation of recommendations on good practices and proposals of pilot projects, especially in the framework of the new Control Regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 of 20 November 2009. For this purpose, information has been collected on existing information systems supporting fisheries control and surveillance in the EU Member States, with the objective to provide guidance for their possible future development and to improve their interoperability for the exchange with other Member States, the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and the Commission.

The twenty two maritime EU member States (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Luxembourg and Slovakia have no marine fisheries and are therefore not considered within this study) were part of the scope of this study. The study has been organised in five regions: Baltic, North Sea, Western Waters, Western Mediterranean and Eastern Mediterranean. For each MS:

  1. A questionnaire on control activities and their related data was completed by the MS.
  2. A desk study provided background information and an introduction to the information system in the MS from literature searches and standard databases of catches and landings such as the FAO FISHSTAT databases were used for background information;
  3. A briefing presentation of this information was then made by the consortium of MRAG and LAMANS to the EFCA.
  4. For each MS, the national authorities that coordinate fisheries control activities or are responsible for information systems of interest for fisheries control were visited by the EFCA, with a representative from the consortium of MRAG and LAMANS present during at least half of the visits for the region. The focus of the visits was to collect through interviews all the information necessary to complete the questionnaire elaborated for the study;
  5. A debriefing presentation was then made by the consortium of MRAG and LAMANS to the EFCA.
  6. A national report was produced for each of the MS describing the IS related to fisheries control activities. The reports focused on the practical considerations and the understanding of the way that national authorities and agents in charge of fisheries control operations manage and access data of interest for fisheries control activities, as well as the tools that are used to analyse and exchange information, especially in the framework of fisheries control operations performed in the framework of Joint Deployment Plans (JDPs).
  7. A Regional Report for each of the region provided further analysis to the National Reports and presented an overview each of the regions.

This study has shown the use of a wide variety of information systems in the MS in terms of size, scale and complexity. Although due to differences in the size, scale and diversity of fisheries in the MS, it is not possible to describe a single all encompassing solution that is appropriate to be deployed in all MS, there are a number of elements that can be drawn from the MS that can be used regionally or throughout the EU either as technical solutions or pilot projects, that would benefit fisheries control in terms of efficiency, efficacy and effectiveness.

These solutions and projects can be broadly classified in terms of those that can benefit fisheries control in terms of five groups: data collection, data management, data analysis, data access (i.e. provision of data to field teams) and data exchange.

ERS will become the dominant for logbook and sales note data collection from vessels at sea. The automatic submission of logbook data that have already been to a large degree verified and cross-checked that are therefore available to be verified on landing is highly valuable. Logbooks checks and cross-checks that can be made prior to landing can help targeting through risk assessment by identifying those vessels with a higher likelihood of misreporting. This will therefore increase the efficiency of fisheries control.

Remote collection of data on tablet computers, reduces errors at source or during data entry. On return to the patrol vessel or port office the tablets can be connected to the main system and the data uploaded onto the centralised system. This is a quick, effective way to collect inspection data. The use of master record sets for critical reference datasets such as the national vessel registers are recommended. These master record sets can be used either as a read-only data set, generated by a master system or a system of updating other systems can be developed, e.g. use of system object architecture. Centralisation of data into a low number of systems can benefit data quality control, analysis and management as these can be controlled by the data administrators much easier. The larger the number of systems the more data exchange and quality control are required and data analysis is made harder as data are held in separate systems. It is recommended that advice to MS is given on common structures that can be used in their information systems. Often only the Council Regulations are used to define requirements for systems which may not be ideal, resulting in difficulties in exchanging data between MS and between organisations within MS as they may not be in the same format. By harmonising current formats and advising on future applications for data exchange to be developed by MS, EFCA will be able to enhance data exchange in a similar manner to the ease by which vessel data are exchanged through the strict requirements laid down by FIDES.

In addition to these categories, one possible overarching project that would be possible through the EFCA is to facilitate the transfer of good practice and capacity building in working methods and systems that are used from one MS to others. This could have a number of elements, the first being a workshop with one or more representatives from each MS who are responsible for the systems behind fisheries control attending a workshop at CFCA. The workshop would focus on highlighting the good practice outlined in the study and how this can be delivered and replicated in other MS.

LAMANS was responsible for the Western Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, Malta, Slovenia) and Eastern Mediterranean (Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Romania).


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