Taking the best available scientific advice as a basis for defining management measures is one of the Common Fisheries Policy's (CFP) principles of good policy-making. Such measures include setting fishing opportunities and monitoring their efficiency in delivering policy objectives and targets.
When proposing new fisheries rules and regulations, the European Commission seeks scientific advice from a number of bodies. Facts and figures collected by EU countries under the data collection framework form the basis for these bodies' work. The Commission helps to fill short-term gaps in knowledge by funding calls for tenders and calls for proposals enabling studies to be conducted that result in scientific advice. Long-term research projects relevant to fisheries management are supported under Horizon 2020.
Scientific advisory bodies
The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) was set up in 1993 to advise the Commission on fisheries management. It is not a permanent body, but a pool of experts who contribute to its work either on a temporary basis as members, or on a demand basis as experts in working groups. STECF members are appointed by the Commission for their expertise in marine biology and ecology, fisheries science, gear technology, aquaculture, and fisheries economics. STECF reports directly to the Commission.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is an intergovernmental body founded in 1902 to conduct and coordinate research into the marine ecosystems of the North Atlantic. ICES provides advice to a number of governments and regional fisheries management organisations, including the EU. It publishes Popular Advice by fish species and by region on its website.
The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM is a regional fisheries management organisation established in 1952 whose structure and mandate were renewed in 2004. SAC advice forms the basis for binding GFCM recommendations on fisheries management and the conservation of marine resources in the area for which it is responsible, comprising the Mediterranean, the Black Sea and connecting waters.
As regards the fishing activities of the EU external fishing fleet and more particularly its long-distance water fleet , the European Commission also relies on scientific advice and management recommendations provided by the scientific committees of regional fisheries organisations and regional fisheries management organisations for tuna or small species living at low to medium depths (pelagic), on or just above the seabed (benthic) or just above the benthic layer (demersal)
Where the EU has signed a fisheries partnership agreement with non-EU coastal countries, the European Commission seeks to promote scientific cooperation between EU and non-EU scientific communities, and can set up joint scientific committees or hold ad-hoc joint scientific meetings. These may provide scientific advice and management recommendations to the joint commissions operating under the fisheries partnership agreement. Joint commissions comprise equal numbers of representatives from the EU and the non EU coastal countries who cooperate on an equal footing.
The Commission's Joint Research Centre complements the advisory bodies' work by supporting the coordination and management of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries and the implementation of the data collection regulations. It also conducts studies on fisheries management issues relevant to the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy.