The Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) is an advisory group to the Commission. This Committee, which represents all major groups of stakeholders at European level, was created in 1971.
ACFA is composed of 21 representatives of the following interests: organisations representing the production sector, the processing industry and trade in fishery and aquaculture products, as well as NGOs representing the interests of consumers, the environment and development. This means that three out of 21 representatives are NGOs and 18 are industry representatives.
The Members of ACFA are appointed by the Commission following proposals from the organisations set up at Community level, which are the most representative of the interests concerned. They meet according to an annual work programme adopted in agreement with the Commission.
Decisions in ACFA – opinions are adopted on around seven or eight major policy issues a year – are taken in the ACFA Plenary and prepared in the Bureau, the steering group of ACFA. All decisions and positions are prepared and discussed in the four Working Groups, which deal with:
- fisheries resources and management
- markets and trade policy
- general questions, including economics and the condition of the sector
The Fisheries Secretariat participates in the work of ACFA on issues relevant to its work programme and coordinate activities with the other members of the ACFA NGO Contact Group. The group has a coordinator as its official representative – the ACFA-NGO Co-ordinator or CCPA-ONG Coordinateur (ANCOR-COCO). FISH held this position from 2006 to mid-2007. It then passed to Oceana, and is currently held by The Pew Environment Group.
With the RACs now operational, there are ongoing discussions about how to ensure that the work of the two types of stakeholder for a does not overlap too much, and the Commission has carried out an evaluation of ACFA.