Scientific advice is used as a basis for Commission proposals to the Council and the European Parliament. STECF, which is the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, is consulted at regular intervals on matters pertaining to the conservation and management of living aquatic resources, including biological, economic, environmental, social and technical considerations. The Commission is required by regulation to take into account the advice from STECF when presenting proposals on fisheries management. There exist STECF Subgroups that deal with research needs, economic affairs, stock reviews, Mediterranean and Black Sea stocks, management objectives and strategies, and the balance between resources and exploitation.
In this context, FISHREG scientific staff assure the coordination of the STECF advice process. Additional FISHREG staff in the Secretariat of STECF provide also for logistical and administrative support for the meetings. In addition to the coordination and administrative roles, FISHREG has been providing scientific input to STECF and its Subgroups, including the Chairing of selected Subgroup meetings for which FISHREG has recognized in-house expertise. To increase effectiveness and avoid duplication of effort, FISHREG coordinates STECF's agenda with the Secretariat of ICES, which is the other scientific advisory body used by the European Commission for fisheries conservation policy. All reports of STECF (plenary reports, written procedure opinions, Working Group reports) become public and are published in the form of "JRC Scientific and Technical reports". The STECF scientific advice process entails coordination of about 25 STECF meetings annually including the invitation by FISHREG of about 400 external experts. Details on STECF's legal basis, meeting agenda, STECF members and experts, past events, the repository of STECF reports, and other relevant information, can be found in the dedicated STECF web site. For a presentation on STECF and the scientific advice process see also STECF presentation.
FISHREG collects and maintains fisheries data reported by EU Member States in the framework of the Data Collection Framework (DCF) - previously it was the Data Collection Regulation (DCR). The new Data Collection Framework adopted in 2008 supports the collection, management and use of fisheries data in the framework of multi-annual national programmes. The new framework obliges Member States to provide access to these data for fisheries management advice, scientific publication, public debate and stakeholder participation in policy development.
Several times a year, following formal data calls by the Commission, national correspondents upload their data using a dedicated web site run by FISHREG. There are at least four different types of data gathered by FISHREG: biological, economic, fishing effort and discards. The focus of the data calls and the variables can change from year to year. For more information see Data Collection web site. The datasets gathered by FISHREG are first checked for compliance and quality, and then normally placed at the disposal of independent experts participating in Working Groups of the STECF in charge of scientific advice. Challenges addressed by JRC in data collection include the development of quality assurance procedures, common codifications, and aggregation for analysis and assessments.
FISHREG collects annually and analyzes economic data on the profitability of the EU fishing fleet and the EU fish processing sector. It is instrumental in producing the Annual Economic Report on the European Fishing Fleet (AER) and the Annual Economic Report on the European Fish Processing sector. The data is first assembled and quality checked by JRC and then provided to working groups of independent experts (working in the framework of STECF) for analysis. The draft report is completed and edited by JRC and then submitted to STECF for endorsement and DG MARE for its final release. Starting in 2011, it is expected that a similar report on the economics of the marine aquaculture sector will also be produced annually.
Detailed overviews of data coverage and data quality form essential parts of the economic reports by FISHREG. To the extent that missing data allow it, the reports include information on EU level trends and drivers of change. The material in the national chapters is mostly provided by the independent experts. Economic performance projections are envisaged for future issues to improve usefulness of these economic reports. In addition to providing information to policy makers, the Annual Economic Reports have proven to be useful for bio-economic modelling and for evaluating long-term management plans.
In recent years the calls for economic data on the fishing fleet collected information on parameters such as capacity, employment, effort, landings, other income, expenditure, capital and investments. The data were segmented by fishing gear, length category and "supra regions". The calls for economic data on fish processing collected information on parameters such as employment, number of enterprises, income, costs, capital and investments. Here the fish processors are enterprises whose main activity is declared as "Processing and preserving of fish and fish products" (NACE Code 15.20).
FISHREG is part of the Steering Committee of the project "European market observatory for fisheries and aquaculture products", designed by DG MARE to improve market intelligence for stakeholders and institutional decision makers.
Other relevant work completed in recent years include two cost-benefit analysis studies requested in the framework of work to reform fisheries control in 2009. The first study analyzed the impact of applying Vessel Detection technology (VDS) to supplement traditional air control means for fisheries enforcement and control and indicated contexts where VDS would be clearly beneficial. The second study study attempted to quantify the costs and benefits of changes to the application of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), the Electronic Reporting System (ERS) and the Automatic Identification System (AIS) as in the proposed Council Regulation establishing a Community control system (extension of the use of these technologies to smaller vessels). Other relevant work completed includes modelling to help determine the optimal enforcement strategies (e.g. varying enforcement intensity and penalty levels) for specific fisheries (project COBECOS), advice on balance indicators to measure fleet capacity along a number of dimensions and input into the 2012 Reform of the CFP.
FISHREG has an interest in developing further its in-house economic analysis capacity.
With the rising cost of fuel, energy efficiency in fisheries has become a key issue for the sector's profitability, and the European Commission pledged to facilitate the exchange of good ideas and best practice. Technical solutions to increase efficiency include changes in fishing gears and techniques (e.g. from active to passive) as well as changes to onboard propulsion and energy generation and management.
To address this issue FISHREG has developed a specific website to address this issue, the energyefficiency in fisheries web site, whose primary target is fishery professionals and their associations. The website contains reference information and studies, scientific literature, relevant past and future events (e.g. exhibitions and conferences), information on EU research-funding opportunities, relevant EU projects, initiatives by universities, research centres, companies and professional associations and consortia at regional and national levels, related EU legislation as well as other related links.