Since 2008, the agency based in Vigo, Spain, fosters cooperation between national control and inspection activities in the fisheries sector. Its main task: to ensure that EU rules on fisheries management and conservation are implemented equally across the EU and beyond. This leads to fair competition for the EU fisheries industry on a European level playing field, as well as more sustainable fisheries overall.
An important part of EFCA’s daily task is supporting national authorities with training programmes or new tools and offering them a neutral platform to exchange technical solutions. By pooling assets and intelligence, EFCA helps member states setting up strategic and cost-efficient control campaigns.
Ever-broader field of action
EFCA’s field of action has significantly increased over the last 10 years, and is set to encompass nearly all the EU-regulated species in European and international waters in 2019.
Recently, the agency is also cooperating operationally with mixed teams of inspectors in so-called multipurpose operations. In cooperation with Frontex (European border and coast guard agency) and EMSA (European maritime security agency), it supports national authorities carrying out coast guard functions.
EFCA especially supports the European Commission in its fight against illegal unregulated and undeclared fishing (IUU). Within, but also outside of EU waters. For example, the European Programme PESCAO, a newly launched programme to improve regional fisheries governance in West Africa, receives funding and capacity building support from EFCA.
A recent pilot project on controls in the Strait of Sicily demonstrated that international cooperation among the Mediterranean actors, EU and non-EU, is possible. The success of the pilot has inspired EFCA to set up a second project, this time in the Black Sea, involving Bulgaria and Romania as well as Georgia, Ukraine and Turkey.
Feeling at home in Vigo
With 68 staff members and their families living in Vigo, EFCA has taken roots in the country and city that hosts it. Every week there are several trainings and workshops organised in EFCA that bring to Vigo experts and officials from all over Europe and third countries. EFCA also takes part in city initiatives that reach out to citizens such as sponsoring a street art mural or organising workshops on ocean sustainability for children at Vigo Sea Fest.