The European Commission has presented a proposal for new conservation measures for fisheries in European seas, a statement read.
These are rules on how, where and when fishermen may fish, also determining gear, catch composition and ways to deal with accidental catches.
Up until now, these rules have been decided at EU level through a lengthy adoption process, and over the years this regulatory structure has become highly complex.
EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: "With this proposal we ensure that our objectives for sustainable fisheries and the protection of marine habitats are reached throughout the EU. Its 'regionalised approach' simplifies the rules, in line with our better regulation agenda. It allows for fisheries management decisions to be made locally, closer to the people they affect."
The Commission is tabling "a more flexible system of governance, empowering regional actors, who know their local context best, to customise technical conservation measures in their own sea basins. The proposal also condenses a number of distinct Regulations into one single text which should ease interpretation and facilitate compliance".
The EU will prescribe the general principles and the overall objectives of fishing activities; there will still be a set of basic rules that will be applicable to prohibited fishing gear or the protection of certain species and habitats. However, for technical measures which affect a specific sea basin, national governments and operators will be able to customise the proposed rules to the local context so as to achieve the desired results.
If, for example, a specific fishing area needs to be closed to protect a particular habitat, such as a sensitive coral reef, or if derogations need to be allowed for specific vessels that do not impact the seabed, all this can be done through technical measures decided by the Member States around that sea basin, in consultation with their stakeholders.
The proposal includes measures for the protection of the marine ecosystem and marine habitats and for avoiding by-catches of non-commercial and sensitive species, such as seabirds and mammals.