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  European Code of Conduct
   
EUROPEAN CODE OF RESPONSIBLE FISHERIES PRACTICES
 
Recognising the importance of fisheries, including aquaculture, as a vital source of food, employment, recreation, trade and economic well being, the European sector is committed towards contributing to responsible and sustainable fishing activities. This Code sets out standards of behaviour for the fishing industry to favour and preserve healthy marine ecosystems and to carry out fishing activities in a responsible manner. It will be applicable to Community fishing operators in Community waters and outside these, including third countries waters and international waters. Building on the framework that the FAO Code of Conduct provides for fisheries authorities, this Code refers more relevantly to EU fishing activities and applies fundamentally to fishing operators. The Code intends to supplement international, European and national legislation in force on a voluntary basis and reinforce existing binding legislation with a view to contribute to a sustainable development of the fishing sector.
 
 
 
OBJECTIVES
 
  1. To contribute to the conservation of increasingly fragile fish stocks while promoting the continuation of fishing activities in Community as well as in international or third country waters.
 
  1. To contribute to the creation of wealth and employment in fishery-dependent regions under conditions of sustainability.
 
  1. To promote the contribution of fisheries to food security and the provision of high-quality fish.
 
  1. To develop a culture of good fishing practice and to provide standards of conduct for all persons involved in the fisheries sector wherever they fish, including in international or third country waters.
 
  1. To promote the participation and co-operation of stakeholders in the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).
 
  1. To guarantee equitable, safe and adequate working conditions on board vessels.
 
 
GUIDELINES
 
European fishing operators will, wherever they fish, including in international or third country waters :

1.Respect for fish resources and their associated environment

 
  • Adopt the necessary measures to minimise the risk of gear loss. Where possible, efforts will be made to recover any lost gear as soon as possible. Where immediate recovery is not possible, masters will record the position of the lost gear, report it and try recovering it at a later stage.
 
  • Only set out the amount of gear that can be handled regularly and efficiently, ensuring that it is properly marked with the identity of the vessel.
  • Ensure that gear is set in such a way as not to hinder unduly other  users, and take appropriate precautions (such as ensuring the visibility of the vessel and of the gear) when fishing in areas of high marine traffic.
 
  • Trim fishing gear in a manner ensuring maximum efficiency in their selective characteristics, with a view to better comply with mandatory minimum landing sizes, in order to ensure that a satisfactory proportion of the stock reaches breeding age.
 
  • Voluntarily depart from fishing grounds where high quantities occur of fish which will not be kept on board due to its nature, size or condition, to avoid discards.
 
  • Where choices can be made on alternative fishing practices, include respect for the environment as a criterion to make a decision.
 
  • Use judiciously automatic sorting equipment with a view to facilitate commercial classification and not as a means of highgrading[1].
 
  • Optimise the use of resources (energy and water) on board. Keep insulation of holds in good condition and free from hoarfrost.
 
  • Use good quality fuels with low sulphur content. They will also utilise judiciously the vessel engines as to minimise emissions of dangerous substances
 
  • Treat on board-generated litter as if they were at home. Vessel masters will install a compactor in certain ships to treat the refuse and other on board waste produced during normal operation of the ship. Not dump the waste, but retain it for disposal on land.
 
  • Develop in association with the appropriate authorities, facilities to carry out “litter projects”.
 
  • Develop a sense of responsibility towards environmental protection. Encourage participation of crew members in education and training programmes that focus on responsible fishing and sustainable development practices.
 
  • Be proud of good fishing practice rather than of fishing in quantity.
 
 

2.Maritime safety

 
  • Maintain regularly all parts of the vessel and in particular engines and security equipment. Vessel masters and owners will carry out regularly inspections to guarantee permanent security conditions.
 
  • Provide a secure working environment. Officers will not allow any working without the adequate equipment, beyond mandatory requirements such as helmet, suit, gloves, shoes, glasses, etc.
 
  • Ensure fishermen’s training on work risks and how to cope with dangerous situations. Fire drills and emergency exercises will be carried out regularly.
 
  • Manufacture and install fishing gear in conformity with safety requirements.
 
  • Ensure medical care and help in the event of an accident. Vessels will maintain easy radio access to remote medical care facilities available to any member of the crew.
 
  • Maintain regularly updated al information about obstructions and other navigation threats. Masters will communicate new findings to other colleagues and to the appropriate maritime authorities.
 
  • Reserve space on board to eventually host rescued castaway.
 

3.Social aspects

 
  • Be fair with employees. Fishing is a specialised activity non exempt of risks and should be properly rewarded both in terms of money and of working conditions.
 
  • Maintain a good working atmosphere. Officers will promote team spirit and cohesion and establish procedures to solve eventual conflicts in a friendly way.
 
  • Not interfere with operations carried out by other vessels, whatever their flag and the nature of their operations. Recognise the rights of other users of the marine environment and its resources.
 
  • In cases of competition for reduced space in fishing grounds, anticipate this and seek consensual solutions with the other partners.
 

4.Cooperation

 
  • Develop detailed charters of good practices at regional level in the framework of the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) and/or POs networks.
 
  • Cooperate with fisheries’ inspectors and other authorities at sea in ensuring safe and fair inspections of fisheries legislation and other rules.
 
  • Promote a spirit of cooperation with fisheries scientists. Master will endeavour to spend some time to respond to questions and to fill in forms knowing that this effort will be worth the long-term benefits for the fishing world of a good scientific basis of fisheries management.
 
  • Encourage the installation of the VMS system also in ships that are not legally required to do so.
 

5.Information and transparency

 
  • Participate in the collection of reliable data. While maintaining a desirable degree of confidentiality on certain sensitive information, masters will make it available to those which will not enter in competition with their activities, such as control authorities and scientists Collaborate with journalists and other professionals of information in informing them of your activities and concerns.
 
  • Keep for long time detailed records of all fishing operations, landings, transhipments, discards, etc. The longer the information is kept in a consistent manner, the more useful it becomes.
 
  • Ensure the traceability of fish in accordance with the relevant European and national legislation (place and date of catch, place of unloading, discards).
 

6.Marketing conditions

 
  • Keep fish on board on good conditions in order to increase their value. Fishing operators  will be ready to sell quality rather than quantity.
 
  • Search for new markets for fishery products that would be otherwise discarded.
 
  • Take benefit of market opportunities and unload in ports where the demand proves sufficient.
 
  • Where possible, give priority to the sale in auctions, subject to adequate control measures. These will act like a label of quality for your fishery products.
 

7.Health aspects

 
  • Maintain the vessel in optimal hygienic conditions, especially where fish is being subject to manipulation prior to storage.
 
  • Carry out the catch, handling, processing and distribution of the fish and fishery products so as to preserve the nutritional value, quality and the harmlessness of the products.
 
  • Collaborate with public authorities and other stakeholders to promote the benefits of consuming fish.
 

8.Aquaculture

 
  • Plan and operate fish farming in a manner that avoids unacceptable negative interactions with the environment and preserves the welfare of the species being raised[2].
 


[1] Highgrading refers to a practice whereby fishermen catch more than necessary, in order to sort the most valuable components of the catch with the resulting discarding of the remainder.
[2] Refer to ‘A Code of Condct for European Aquaculture’ produced by the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (FEAP) for further development of this aspect.
   
 
 
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