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Judgment of the Court of 25 July 1991.

Commission of the European Communities v Kingdom of Spain.

C-258/89 • ECLI:EU:C:1991:322 • 61989CJ0258

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Commission of the European Communities v Kingdom of Spain.

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Keywords

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Fisheries - Conservation of the resources of the sea - Community powers - Measures for monitoring catches linked with conservation policy - Applicability to catches made outside the Community fishing zone - Member States' obligations as regards monitoring

(Council Regulations Nos 2057/82 and 2241/87)

Summary

In the exercise of its independent powers to take measures for the conservation of the biological resources of the sea, the Community is authorized to regulate catches made outside the Community fishing zone. The restriction of fishing possibilities outside the Community zone is essential in the light of the actual objectives of the common fisheries policy, given that consideration solely of the stock found in Community waters would scarcely be effective and would undermine the objective of conserving the species concerned, since those species would not be subject to any quotas once they moved outside the Community zone. Accordingly, the Community was entitled to require Member States to apply the control measures laid down by Regulations Nos 2057/82 and 2241/87 to catches made outside the Community fishing zone of stocks subject to a total allowable catch or quota.

Parties

In Case C-258/89,

Commission of the European Communities, represented by R.C. Fischer and F. Santaolalla, Legal Advisers, acting as Agents, with an address for service in Luxembourg at the office of G. Berardis, a member of its Legal Service, Wagner Centre, Kirchberg,

applicant,

supported by

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by J.E. Collins, of the Treasury Solicitor' s Department, acting as Agent, with an address for service at the Embassy of the United Kingdom, 14 Boulevard Roosevelt,

intervener,

v

Kingdom of Spain, represented by J. Conde de Saro, Director-General for Community Legal and Institutional Coordination, and R. Silva de Lapuerta, Abogado del Estado, of the State Legal Department for Matters before the Court of Justice, acting as Agents, with an address for service in Luxembourg at the Spanish Embassy, 4-6 Boulevard Emmanuel Servais,

defendant,

APPLICATION for a declaration that, by failing to apply the control measures laid down by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2057/82 of 29 June 1982 establishing certain control measures for fishing activities by vessels of the Member States (Official Journal 1982, L 200, p. 1), in particular Articles 1, 6 to 9 and 10 thereof, and by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2241/87 of 23 July 1987 establishing certain control measures for fishing activities (Official Journal 1987, L 207, p. 1), in particular Articles 1, 5 to 9 and 11 thereof, to catches made outside the Community fishing zone of stocks or groups of stocks subject to a total allowable catch (TAC) or quota, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty.

THE COURT,

composed of: O. Due, President, G.F. Mancini, G.C. Rodríguez Iglesias, M. Díez de Velasco (Presidents of Chambers), Sir Gordon Slynn, C.N. Kakouris, R. Joliet, F.A. Schockweiler and P.J.G. Kapteyn, Judges,

Advocate General: M. Darmon,

Registrar: J.A. Pompe, Assistant Registrar,

having regard to the Report for the Hearing,

after hearing oral argument from the parties at the hearing on 9 January 1991, in which the United Kingdom was represented by C. Bellamy QC and C. Vajda, Barrister, acting as Agents,

after hearing the Opinion of the Advocate General at the sitting on 29 May 1991,

gives the following

Judgment

Grounds

1 By application lodged at the Court Registry on 14 August 1989, the Commission of the European Communities brought an action under Article 169 of the EEC Treaty for a declaration that, by failing to apply the control measures laid down by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2057/82 of 29 June 1982 establishing certain control measures for fishing activities by vessels of the Member States, in particular Articles 1, 6 to 9 and 10 thereof, and by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2241/87 of 23 July 1987 establishing certain control measures for fishing activities, in particular Articles 1, 5 to 9 and 11 thereof, to catches made outside the Community fishing zone of stocks or groups of stocks subject to a total allowable catch (TAC) or quota, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty.

2 Article 1 in both regulations requires the competent authorities of a Member State to take penal or administrative action in order to curb any infringement of the rules in force concerning conservation and control measures. Article 5 of Regulation No 2241/87 requires the skippers of fishing vessels flying the flag of a Member State and fishing for a stock or group of stocks subject to a TAC or quota to keep a logbook indicating the quantities of each species caught and kept on board, the date and location of such catches by reference to the smallest zone for which a TAC or quota has been fixed and administered, and the type of gear used, the Member States being responsible for verifying the accuracy of those entries.

3 Articles 6, 7 and 8 in both regulations require the skippers of fishing vessels to submit to the State where the catch is landed and to the flag State declarations concerning landings and transhipments or quantities retained on board of stocks subject to a TAC or quota, and require the two Member States to take appropriate measures to verify the accuracy of the declarations received. Article 9 in both regulations requires Member States to record all landings by fishing vessels flying the flag of, or registered in, a Member State of stocks or groups of stocks subject to a TAC or quota, and to notify the Commission of the information received. Article 11 of Regulation No 2241/87 requires Member States provisionally to prohibit fishing vessels flying their flag from fishing for stocks subject to quota, at such time as is appropriate in order to ensure that the quota in question is not exceeded.

4 In 1986 and 1987 the Commission' s inspectors established that in both years the Spanish authorities had failed to record catches subject to a TAC or quota fished in ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) sub-zones VI, VII and VIII outside the 200-mile limit of the Community fishing zone. The Spanish authorities took no penal or administrative action in respect of those landings.

5 Reference is made to the Report for the Hearing for a fuller account of the facts of the case, the procedure and the submissions and arguments of the parties, which are mentioned or discussed hereinafter only in so far as is necessary for the reasoning of the Court.

6 The Kingdom of Spain denies that it has failed to fulfil its obligations and relies on three sets of arguments aimed at showing that the Commission' s view is based on a misinterpretation of the aforesaid regulations.

7 In the first place, it maintains that the Community has no authority to adopt control measures independently in respect of catches made outside waters falling under the sovereignty or within the jurisdiction of the Member States. Consequently, the regulations in question are not open to the interpretation that Community quotas are applicable in such parts of the ICES divisions as are outside the limit of the Community fishing zone.

8 In that regard, the Kingdom of Spain contends essentially that the only measures which the Community may take in respect of catches made outside waters falling under the sovereignty or within the jurisdiction of the Member States are the negotiation of international agreements and the adoption of measures for their implementation.

9 That argument cannot be accepted. As the Court held in its judgment in Case 61/77 Commission v Ireland [1978] ECR 417, the Community has the power to take conservation measures both independently and in the form of contractual commitments with non-member countries or under the auspices of international organizations. So far as the present case is concerned, it is sufficient to state that the contested rules were adopted in the exercise of that independent power.

10 The first argument put forward by the Kingdom of Spain must, therefore, be rejected.

11 Next, the Kingdom of Spain contends that an interpretation resulting in a unilateral restriction by the Community of fishing possibilities on the high seas would be detrimental to its fishermen without being effective, since non-member countries would continue to allow their fishing fleets to operate freely.

12 In that regard, it is sufficient to point out that consideration solely of the stock found in Community waters would scarcely be effective and would undermine the objective of conserving the species concerned, since those species would not be subject to any quotas once they moved outside the 200-mile zone. Furthermore, catches made inside the Community zone could easily be declared as having been made on the high seas.

13 It follows that, in any event, it is essential to restrict fishing possibilities outside the Community zone, in the light of the actual objectives of the common fisheries policy.

14 Finally, the Kingdom of Spain considers that the Act of Accession of Spain and Portugal to the European Communities (Official Journal 1985 L 302, p. 23, hereinafter "the Act of Accession") does not empower the Community to regulate fishing possibilities outside Community waters. According to Spain, the quotas allocated to it under Article 161 of the Act of Accession cannot apply outside Community waters inasmuch as Article 156 lays down that access to waters falling within the jurisdiction of the Member States and forming part of the ICES zones is governed by the section which includes Articles 156 and 161. It follows, still according to Spain, that those provisions could not have applied to zones falling outside the jurisdiction of the Member States, even if they were included in the ICES zones.

15 According to Spain, the quotas allocated to it pursuant to Article 161 of the Act of Accession cannot be construed as applying outside Community waters since Article 161 forms part of a section which, according to Article 156 of the Act of Accession, regulates access by Spanish vessels to waters "falling under the sovereignty or within the jurisdiction of the ... Member States".

16 In response to that argument, it should be noted that, according to Article 156 of the Act of Accession, access by Spain to waters falling within the jurisdiction of the Member States of the Community of Ten is subject to the system laid down in Section II of Chapter 4 in Title II of Part Four of that Act. Within that section, Articles 157 to 160 lay down rules concerning access to those waters, while Article 161 provides for quotas for Spain in zones VIII and IX, which are entirely outside the waters of the Member States of the Community of Ten. Since the allocation of resources is organized for certain zones which are outside the waters of the Member States of the Community of Ten, the scope of the system governing access to waters may not be relied upon with regard to the allocation of quotas.

17 It follows that the third argument advanced by the Kingdom of Spain must also be rejected.

18 Since every argument put forward by the Kingdom of Spain has been rejected, it must be held that, by failing to apply the control measures laid down by Regulation (EEC) No 2057/82, in particular Articles 1, 6 to 9 and 10 thereof, and by Regulation (EEC) No 2241/87, in particular Articles 1, 5 to 9 and 11 thereof, to catches made outside the Community fishing zone of stocks or groups of stocks subject to a TAC or quota, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty.

Decision on costs

Costs

19 Under Article 69(2) of the Rules of Procedure, the unsuccessful party is to be ordered to pay the costs. Since the Kingdom of Spain has failed in its submissions, it must be ordered to pay the costs.

Operative part

On those grounds,

THE COURT

hereby:

1. Declares that, by failing to apply the control measures laid down by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2057/82 of 29 June 1982 establishing certain control measures for fishing activities by vessels of the Member States, in particular Articles 1, 6 to 9 and 10 thereof, and by Council Regulation (EEC) No 2241/87 of 23 July 1987 establishing certain control measures for fishing activities, in particular Articles 1, 5 to 9 and 11 thereof, to catches made outside the Community fishing zone of stocks or groups of stocks subject to a total allowable catch (TAC) or quota, the Kingdom of Spain has failed to fulfil its obligations under the EEC Treaty;

2. Orders the Kingdom of Spain to pay the costs.

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