The European Commission has adopted an action plan for streamlining and improving fisheries legislation over the period 2006-2008.

The plan is part of the commission-wide process aimed at encouraging better regulation. Detailed proposals were drawn up on the basis of the Council of Minister's conclusions on simplifying the Common Fisheries Policy and an extensive consultation process with member states and the fishing industry. The plan identifies a series of priority initiatives for the next three years concentrated on two key areas - conservation and control. This is the first such sectoral action plan to be adopted by the commission and will lead the way in concrete application of the simplification strategy not only in the fisheries sector, but in European legislation in general.

"This action plan has benefited from the input of all the interested parties who all want clearer and simpler fisheries measures. If measures are easier to understand they will be easier to apply and to monitor thus facilitating work for all concerned. This initiative is a clear demonstration of the commission's commitment to better regulation" Joe Borg, European commissioner for fisheries and maritime affairs, said.

The aims of the CFP simplification exercise are to ensure that legislative texts are clear and unambiguous, to ensure that both fishermen and national administrators have access to the information they need in a concise and easily-understood form and to reduce the burden of work that currently falls upon these two groups of stakeholders as a result of unnecessary complications in regulation.

To this end, as well as committing itself to ensuring that all new legislation and all instruments currently under review will in future meet these criteria, the Commission has identified a number of regulations currently in force as priority targets for restructuring and revision. These include instruments which deal with total allowable catches and quotas, and fishing effort; technical measures for the protection of young fish; collection and management of data; monitoring measures, including computerised monitoring systems; reporting obligations; and authorisations to fish outside EU waters. By focusing on conservation and control, the commission hopes to improve working conditions for both fishermen and public officials in the fisheries sector thus encouraging the effective, efficient and transparent application of the Common Fisheries Policy.