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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 46 E/33

(2001/C 46 E/037) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0735/00
by Anneli Hulthén (PSE) to the Commission

(6 March 2000)

Subject: Fishing agreement with the Baltic States

The dispute between Swedish and Baltic fishermen in the Baltic Sea has escalated. Swedish west-coast
fishermen have difficulties fishing in Swedish waters because Baltic fishermen are blockading the fishing
grounds. Under an agreement with the EU, the Latvian and Lithuanian fishing fleets are entitled to fish part
of their national quota in the Member States’ fishing zones. Foreign fishing boats are required to report
their entry into and departure from Swedish fishing zones. Previously, the reports were made directly to
the Swedish coast guard. Now, they are sent via Brussels which causes delays of several days and, as a
result, the boats manage to leave Swedish waters before the coast guard has received notification.

How does the Commission intend to resolve the apparent problems of supervision and coordination?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(13 April 2000)

As the result of a declaration adopted at the Council of fisheries ministers in December 1995, the
Commission subsequently submitted a report on monitoring Community conservation and management
measures applicable to third-country fishing vessels (1). On the basis of this report, it was concluded that it
was necessary to reinforce controls on such vessels and that this was possible under existing legislation.

Under Article 2 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 2847/93 establishing a control system applicable to the
common fisheries policy (2), it is the duty of each Member State, within its territory and within maritime
waters subject to its sovereignty or jurisdiction, to check on, inspect and monitor all fishing activities,
including fishing by third-country vessels.

In 1997 and 1998, respectively, Swedish coastguard vessels carried out 46 and 23 inspections at sea on
vessels flying the flag of Baltic states. This number of inspections represents an inspection rate of between
1 % and 3 % on fishing trips by the vessels concerned. The Commission considers that these efforts could
be increased appreciably.

As for the hailing system for notifying entry into and exit from the area monitored, Baltic vessels are
required to use the radio stations listed in the Community legislation.

These radio stations notify the Commission of such transmissions, and the Commission passes them on to
all the Member States concerned. Thus the Swedish authorities will also receive all transmissions, including
those from Baltic ships operating in the Danish and German sections of Community waters. Although this
does not normally take more than a few hours, it can be as long as 48 hours over a weekend. In practice,
this time lapse is not a problem for the Swedish authorities because almost all transmissions by Baltic
vessels (more than 98 % of messages) are sent via the Gryd coastguard station in Sweden. The Swedish
coastguard will therefore actually have them before they are notified to the Commission.

The real problem for the inspection authorities is in fact the inaccuracy of the geographical positions
transmitted by Baltic vessels. When the Commission’s own inspectors visited the area, their checks showed
that no vessels were to be found near the locations declared. The Commission also discovered that some
messages are not even transmitted by the vessel master but by an agent on land.

In any event, the hailing system is now no longer relevant as a result of the reinforcement of the
Community rules on monitoring of fishing by vessels of third countries decided on in December 1998.
From the beginning of this year, all vessels of more than 24 metres overall, including third-country vessels,
are subject to monitoring by satellite. Under this system, the inspecting authorities receive the geographical
positions of vessels, without involvement of the vessel master, at least every two hours in real time. This
powerful tool means that all geographical positions of Baltic vessels can be monitored continuously.
C 46 E/34 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 13.2.2001

Full application of the present rules will make it possible to achieve effective controls if adequate resources
are assigned to monitoring fishing activities. The number of Baltic vessels operating at any one time in
Community waters is on average not more than about twenty.

In order to improve the quality and intensity of inspection and monitoring of fishing in the Baltic in a
general way, the Commission convened a meeting in Brussels at the beginning of 1999 in which all the
coastal states of the Baltic participated. A second meeting of this kind will be held on the island of
Bornholm (Denmark) in April 2000.

(1) COM(96) 493 final.
(2) OJ L 261, 20.10.1993.

(2001/C 46 E/038) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0736/00
by Karin Scheele (PSE) to the Commission

(17 March 2000)

Subject: Sinking of the oil tanker ‘Erika’ in December 1999

The sinking of the oil tanker ‘Erika’ in December 1999 had serious consequences for the environment.
According to a report in the Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard of 19/20 February 2000, such
environmental disasters involving oil tankers are mainly due to neglect of safety precautions in the
interests of profit-seeking in the world marine transport sector. The average age of the world merchant
fleet, for example, has been rising steadily in recent decades. It is currently 14,5 years, more than half of
vessels being over 15 years old. For several years now there has also been an increase in the number of
vessels sailing under flags of convenience, which pose an additional threat to marine safety.

1. What measures has the Commission taken, or is the Commission taking, to improve safety in marine

2. What measures is the Commission taking in particular against vessels sailing under flags of

3. As long ago as 1993 the European Parliament called on the Commission to impose a ban on any oil
tanker older than 15 years calling at any EU port. Has the Commission heeded this call? if not, why not?

4. Has the Commission established a timetable for prohibiting the mooring of oil tankers without
double hulls and for eliminating vessels sailing under flags of convenience, or is it planning to do so?

5. Is the Commission taking any measures to introduce the principle of joint and several liability of
shipowners, charterers, insurers and classification societies?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(3 May 2000)

On 21 March 2000, to reduce the possibility of shipping accidents as far as possible and provide Europe’s
coasts with even better protection from the devastating consequences of oil pollution, the Commission
adopted a communication on the safety of the seaborne oil trade (1). The communication provides answers
to all the Honourable Member’s questions.

The Commission is proposing a series of immediate and longer-term measures.

To start with, Community law on the inspection of vessels calling at European ports and on the
monitoring of classification societies is to be tightened up. The issue of classification society liability is
also dealt with. These measures will allow more targeted action to be taken against flags which fail to
comply with international safety standards, including certain flags of convenience.