The EC’s assessment of the fishing vessel safety Directive must take a different course

20 Feb 2023

The Commission is doing an evaluation of Directive 97/70/EC on fishing vessels’ safety.

This is an important piece of legislation for the ETF as it applies certain safety standards to vessels above 24m.

However, in its contribution to this evaluation, the ETF will stress that:

  • While Directive 97/70/EC clearly refers to Port State control, a joint analysis of the two Directives (Directive 97/70/EC & Directive 2009/16/EC) shows the complete absence of interaction between them. The Port State Control Directive excludes from its scope the fishing vessels, which means that these vessels are excluded from a European agreement binding the Member States in the conduct of a common PSC system according to common, shared operating rules and under the supervision of a European Authority. In fact, the PSC carried out on these vessels is the sole and isolated responsibility of each Member State. That is why the effectiveness of the Directive on vessels’ safety depends largely on the widening of the scope of the Port State Control Directive to fishing vessels.
  • The Directive covers only vessels above 24m. Vessels above 24m represent a small minority in the EU fleet. The Directive should be extended to vessels below 24m as they represent a too big share of the fleet to leave their safety requirements to the discretion of Member States.  An extension of the Directive’s scope is desirable, leaving the Member States the possibility to implement better standards at the national level.