Sunday 25 April 2010

Follow-up: Common Fisheries Policy & open data

This morning I published an excessively long article on the decision-making process leading to a Council Regulation regarding the supervision of the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy - and I want to show with the follow-up how one can use the documentation for further research.

You may still wonder what kind of value this research may have, especially if you are not into fisheries (which I am neither). Let me thus share just some insights that you can get just by comparing "dry" data such as Council documents.

In the initial draft of regulation 1224/2009, there was Article 9 para 5 on open access to fisheries data. The article reads:
Member States shall make detailed and aggregated data available to end-users as referred to in Article 2 (i) of Council Regulation (EC) No 199/2008 in order to support scientific analysis under the conditions laid down in Article 18 of that Regulation.
The regulation referenced in this article is on "the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and support for scientific advice", and it was passed while the consultation on Regulation 1224/2009 was ongoing. Article 18 of Regulation 199/2008 states that open data is not only good for scientific advice but also for the public debate (see for example projects like which uses public data to support public supervision of EU fisheries).

However, Article 9(5) from the initial draft has disappeared in the final regulation, and so we wonder why.

Going back to the initial blog post I have written, we find document 10152/09 (20 May 2009) where on page 19 we read the following comments on Article 9(5) by three member states:
[Portugal]: why is reference to Data Collection needed?
[Spain]: this requirement already exists under Reg. 199/2008 and does not need to be repeated here.
[Greece]: not agree with transmitting detailed and aggregated data to end-users as under Reg. 199/08, since there is no connection with control of CFP rules.
In the case of Greece and Spain this reflects their written contributions filed before May (see links); in the Portuguese case I couldn't find it (but the secretariat noted it so it seemed to be an obvious position).

When you look into the internal negotiation document published the very same day as document 10152/09, on 20 May, you will notice that already in this version Article 9(5) has been erased.

This shows that three member states - Portugal, Spain, and Greece - were able to make an important paragraph in this regulation obsolete and apparently no other member state was ready to fight for open data in a Regulation that is meant to strengthen the supervision and control of EU fisheries.

This is just a quick example that I found by using a simple text comparison software and without the need for any technical knowledge on fisheries - so if you have such knowledge you can do much more!

Picture: © jfchenier / CC BY-NC 2.0