The EU’s Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) and Frontex have assisted the government’s efforts to tackle illegal fishing with air surveillance, their first airborne mission provided to Cyprus.
The additional operational support was requested by Cyprus in the context of the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Joint Deployment Plan (JDP)
The JDPs are the vehicle through which the EFCA organises the deployment of human and material resources of control and inspection pooled by Member States and EFCA.
A joint air surveillance campaign took place during August and September in the southern part of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Cyprus, co-chartering the capacity of a Fixed Wing Aircraft (FWA) available by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) dedicated to fisheries control activities, in cooperation with Cypriot fisheries control authorities.
During this common mission, EFCA was in the lead of the coordination of the operation with Cyprus Authorities and the European Monitoring Team (EMT) of Frontex.
The support to Cyprus derived from a common risk analysis that have indicated this area as high likelihood of potential illegal fisheries activities.
EFCA, being a promoter of innovative technologies, is closely cooperating with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), thus COPERNICUS satellite products were made available to support this specific operational action in Cyprus. In this regard, the airplane also validated non-cooperative vessels (the ones not transmitting position) in the area of interest.
In total there were around 80 flying hours performed in remote areas of Cyprus EEZ which have contributed to enhanced situational awareness and increased prevention of illicit activities.
The joint use of Frontex multipurpose airborne capacity in support of EFCA’s coordinated activities, as well as the support to other coast guard functions, is established in the Service Level Agreement (SLA) between the two agencies as well as embedded in the main principles of the European cooperation on coast guard functions.
This was the first airborne mission provided to Cyprus by EFCA in cooperation with Frontex. EFCA is ready to continue supporting MS on specific requests within the scope of JDP.
The modalities of the EU cooperation on coast guard functions by the three EU Agencies in the maritime domain -Frontex, EFCA and the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA)- in line with their respective mandates, are determined in a Tripartite Working Arrangement (TWA) signed in 2017 chaired by rotation by one of the three agencies (EFCA during 2020). The services provided by the three agencies aim at assisting Member States competent authorities involved in coast guard functions.