Management Unit

The European Union (EU) has 1,200 ports and the largest merchant fleet in the world. 90% of EU external trade and 40% of its internal trade occurs at sea. The EU maritime policy integrates broad aspects such as fishing, employment, transport, research, environment, energy and tourism.

The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) manages fisheries and aquaculture and is based on Articles 38-43 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The main objective is to ensure sustainable fishing and to eliminate less efficient fishing practices, as well as to increase employment and develop coastal areas. The most recent reform of the CFP came into force in January 2014.

Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (also known as DG MARE) is the European Commission’s department responsible for the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy.  With a staff of about 400 employees, led by Director General João Aguiar Machado and based in Brussels, DG MARE is made up of 6 Directorates covering all aspects of both policies, including amongst others conservation, control, market measures, structural actions and international relations regarding fisheries. DG MARE reports to Karmenu Vella, the Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA) ensures that Malta and its fisheries sector comply with the rules and regulations established under the Common Fisheries Policy.  As the regulatory authority, the DFA is involved in communications with the Commission and DG MARE, through the Permanent Representative of Malta in Brussels, for the analysis of new regulations proposed by the European Commission and for carrying out reporting for the purpose of data collection, analysis and coordination from DG MARE.  The communications arising from the DFA are reviewed by different offices within the Ministry of the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change (MESDC) before being transmitted outside the Government.  DFA performs public consultations on crucial areas, such as the establishment of management plans for various fisheries, with interested entities, to ensure that the needs of all those involved are met.  The DFA’s position regarding the proposals for new regulations of the Commission is shared with representatives of other Member States at the European Council meetings which are organized by the Commission and are presided by a Member State which changes every six months.

In 2017, Malta will take over the responsibility to preside in the European Council meetings.  Preparations for Malta’s Presidency of the European Council are moving at a steady pace.  During its Presidency, Malta will guide the Working Parties of the European Council on Fisheries and discussions will then reach the Council on Agriculture and Fisheries.

The main priorities of Malta will be to focus on the need to meet the same conditions for all EU fishermen and to prioritize artisanal fishermen who operate by small vessels and are considered as the most sustainable fishing sector.  Malta will also be working on a number of proposals being presented.  These proposals include important revisions in the regulation of technical measures of fisheries and the framework of data collection.

The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture is in constant contact with the Permanent Representation of Malta to the EU to assist in the Working Parties in Brussels as necessary.

In order for the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture to support its obligations, between 2009 and 2013, it has applied and been granted funds from the European Union under the Fisheries Control Programme.  This co-financing by the EU amounted to approximately € 2.5 million and several implemented projects and ongoing projects assist the country in meeting the obligations in fisheries control. These are some of the projects:

Fisheries Information System:

This project incorporates a number of electronic systems to collect all the data in a centralized location which can be used by both the Department as well as other officials of the European Union.  Fishermen were each given a tablet to record their catch data when fishing.  This information is then transmitted to a centralized system and processed.  Equipment for the fish market was also bought so that information collected is also integrated in this system.

Purchasing of Stereoscopic Cameras:

These types of sophisticated cameras are used by the Department’s divers underwater in tuna cages. These cameras are used during the transfer of bluefin tuna from one cage to another and a video of this operation is taken by means of these cameras.  The video is then analyzed in the Department’s offices by fisheries officials and information on the number of bluefin tuna which has been transferred as well as information about the approximate weight of these fish is gathered. 

Installation of Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) on fishing vessels:

During 2014, about 150 VMS units were installed on fishing vessels larger than 12 meters.  With the help of this device, the Department gets information about the location of each vessel as well as information about the speed with which each vessel is moving.  This information is transmitted by a satellite to the offices of the Department of Fisheries where it is analyzed.  In case of a suspected abuse, the necessary actions are taken.

Weighing Scales and Traceability Equipment:

This project which will be carried out in 2015 will help the fisheries sector to meet its obligations with regards to the traceability of fish.  Today it is an obligation of each EU country, that each marketed fish can be identified and can be traced back to its origins.  Boats over 12 meters will be equipped with weighing scales and printing machines in order to weigh and label fish caught on board.  Vessels smaller than 12 meters, will also have the facility to weigh and label their fish.  This could be done from the 17 machines which will be installed in designated landing facilities and other strategic locations.  These stations will help fisherman to weigh and label their catch before they trade it at the fish market.  When installed, these machines could be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Fish which is not labelled will not be allowed entry at the fish market.