National Fisheries Control Centre (NFCC) - CONTROL ACTIVITY
Italy has a natural vocation for sea activities such as fishing, its history, its traditions. But living sea resources need to be carefully managed in order to ensure their availability for future generations and guarantee sustainable growth for the sector. The sea should be protected from an excessive fishing effort as well as the negative impacts caused by other human activities, so its treasures may be an heritage accessible to all.
The control of the orderly conduct of marine fishing, along with the perfect knowledge of the current European and national regulations, requires also the understanding of related guidelines: navigation code, safety of navigation, rules for the protection of crews, sanitary regulations, regulations on fish trade, etc. Hence the need perceived by the legislator to assign the coordination of these activities to the Coast Guard, a rooted structure capillary spread along the more than 8.000 km of coastline. The decision was confirmed by Legislative Decree n. 4 dated 9th January 2012, that stated that controls on fishing, trade and administration of its products and inspection on infractions of laws and related regulations should be executed by the Coast Guard.
The adoption at European level of a common fisheries policy led the member states to set up their own National Control Centers, qualified structures which all the units in charge of inspections must refer to.
In Italy the National Fisheries Control Centre (NFCC) was created by Presidential Decree n. 424 dated 9th October 1998 and has as its primary responsibility with the monitoring of fishing effort and associated economic activities, leveraging the peripheral structures present at each of the 15 Maritime Directorate, denominated Fishing Area Control Centre (FACC).
This activity is conducted on Italian fishing boats (regardless of the waters which they are operating in or the port of landing) as well as on foreign fishing vessels, when operating in waters under national jurisdiction.
The Coast Guard Headquarters, for this purpose, prepared structures, systems and software enabling the satellite radio location in real time of fishing boats longer than 12 meters using blue box, apart from the exemptions provided by the competent Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
Since the new regulation "Inspections" became effective along with the implementation of the provisions included in Regulation (EU) n. 404/2011, responsibilities have increased. In addition to the traditional responsibilities of monitoring and contrasting illegal activities of the whole fishing industry for the protection of the ecosystem and the consumer, the FACC has been tasked with the maintenance of the National Register of Infringements (art. 15 of Legislative Decree n. 4/2012), where all offenses related to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) are collected.
Coast Guard's checks and controls
The Coast Guard has been tasked also with the management of the "Points System" both for fishing licenses and for the captains of fishing boats, included in the internal regulation in compliance with the European requirements. Points are given when serious violations have been verified and their accumulation can lead to suspension or withdrawal of the documents enabling the exercise of the profession.
However, the increasing internationalization of fishing activities created the needs for improving relationships with CCP members and with the European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA), based in Vigo, through planning joint inspections and sharing operative information. To achieve these objectives, the Coast Guard Headquarters launched a series of initiatives focused on technical training of the operators to employ in complex inspection activities; moreover it reviewed the curricula of Training Institutes employing tenured professors. Finally, the Coast Guard - delegated by the General Directorate for Fisheries - has the following functions:
defines national control plans for the protection of particular fish stocks, such as red tuna (BFT), or to contrast specific forms of illegalities (drift nets);
issues directives for the daily operational checks delivered by specialized personnel throughout Italy, conducted from the sea to the dock up to the inland villages, where the sale of fish products caught in our waters or imported from around the world.
The synergy with the competent Ministry was strengthened in the year 2005 when Joint Ministerial Decree n. 100 dated 27th May 2005 established the Department of Marine Fisheries (DMF) of the Coast Guard, under the functional dependencies of the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
The department, whose organization has been defined by Joint Ministerial Decree dated 1st February 2010, is in charge of connecting activities between the Ministry and the Coast Guard Headquarters for all the issues involving the tasks performed by the Coast Guard regarding the supervision and monitoring of marine fisheries, aquaculture and related sectors. As part of these activities, the Department works - among other things - with the Cabinet Office, the Legislative Office, the Department of European and international policy, the General Directorate for Maritime Fisheries and aquaculture as well as offices working directly with the Minister.