Point system for serious infringements
The point system for serious infringements will basically work in the same way as the systems for traffic offences familiar to motorists in most Member States. The number of points to be attributed for specific infringements will be fixed in detailed rules. Every time a serious infringement is committed, the appropriate number of points will be attributed to the offender in the national registry of fishery offences of the flag Member State. Infringements committed in other Member States will be communicated to the flag Member State.
Any vessel which accumulates more than a certain number of points in a three-year period will have its fishing licence suspended for at least two months. For repeat offences the penalty increases to suspensions of four, eight and twelve months respectively. If, after the end of the fourth suspension period, the offender again incurs the necessary number of points, the fishing licence will be withdrawn for good. However, if the offender does not commit any serious infringements within three years of the previous such infringement, all points on the fishing license will be deleted and he will start again with a clean slate. Points stay with the vessel and are therefore transferred to the new owner if the vessel is sold on.
Detailed rules for the point system will be drawn up at EU level in close cooperation with Member States. The relevant article of the new Control Regulation will only enter into force six months after the adoption of these detailed rules. Member States will also be required to establish a similar point system for masters of fishing vessels.
The point system does not introduce new sanctions and does not interfere with the discretionary power of the national judge to qualify the gravity of the illegal behaviour at stake, as it is only after the judge has established that a given activity should be qualified as a serious infringement that he then proceeds with the corresponding allocation of points.