FishFiles Lite Newsletter
FISHERIES POLICY AND FISH HYGIENE
TECHNICAL INFORMATION IN FOOD & FISHERIES POLICY & DEVELOPMENT
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October 2006

Common Fisheries Policy


1. Commission indicates EUR 3.849 billion available for European Fisheries Fund 2007-2013.
2. European Fisheries Fund rules amended to allow new engines and re-allocation of withdrawn fleet capacity.
3. EU Fisheries Ministers agree the fishing possibilities for 2007 in the Baltic Sea; no cod recovery pan until June 2007 at the earliest
4. ICES publishes fish stock advice; improvements in northern hake and mackerel; cod in EU waters harvested unsustainably, despite the recovery plans
5. The EU, Faeroe Islands, Iceland and Norway, agreed on management measures for blue whiting; reduced TAC of 1,700,000 tonnes
6. The EU, Norway and Faeroe Islands agreed on management measures for mackerel in the north east Atlantic for 2007; increased TAC of 422,551 tonnes.
7. The EU and Norway signed a MoU on improved collaboration on monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activity relating to shared stocks.
8. Community Fisheries Control Agency adopted its budget (EUR 5 million) and work programme (recruit 38 staff, temporarily based in Brussels)
9. South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation agreed significantly strengthened controls (including blacklist IUU vessels and ban on transhipment at sea)
10. ICCAT recommended a reduction in fishing mortality for blue fin tuna; EU Commission called for urgent action at the next ICCAT meeting in November.
11. The EU has banned landings and business dealings with vessels blacklisted by the NEAFC.
12. Stop fishing notices were published for Spanish, UK, French, Swedish, Estonian, German, Latvian, Lithuanian and Portuguese vessels.
13. The Netherlands was allocated additional trawl fishing days in the Skagerrak.
14. The EU Commission is taking Netherlands to the European Court of Justice over its restrictions on laying mussel and oyster seed from other EU Members
15. Commissioner Borg visited Romania to review progress in integrating the acquis in relation to the Common Fisheries Policy.
16. Commissioner Borg also visited Bulgaria to review progress in integrating the acquis in relation to the Common Fisheries Policy.
17. The European Union and the Government of Guinea Bissau agreed to extend the Protocol of the existing Fisheries Agreement, pending negotiations.
18. The Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Government of the Solomon Islands entered into force.
19. The EU Council ratified the Fisheries Partnership Agreements with Seychelles and Comoros Islands.

Fish hygiene

20. During September 2006, there were 39 rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products.
21. The EU Commission imposed safeguard testing for histamine in fishery products from Brazil, following findings of FVO inspection in June 2006.
22. FVO reported on mission to Bosnia Herzogovina; found poor controls on fish health and HACCP, and conflicts of interest in veterinary services
23. FVO reported on a mission to Ecuador; found lack of legislation, approval of deficient establishments, insufficient monitoring of aquaculture drug residues.
24. FVO reported on a mission to Germany; found defective establishments and no means to suspend sale of illegally harvested live bivalve molluscs
25. FVO reported on a mission to Mauritius; Competent Authority gave written assurances which were "not factual " and it "cannot be considered as capable"
26. FVO reported on a mission to Mozambique, found no assessment of HACCP plans or aquaculture establishments; no testing for heavy metals
27. FVO reported on a mission to Poland regarding dioxins; found that there was no monitoring and no means to prevent contaminated fish being consumed
28. FVO reported on a mission to Latvia regarding dioxins; monitoring system adequate but no means to prevent contaminated fish being consumed
29. FVO reported on a mission to Lithuania regarding dioxins; laboratory results considered doubtful; no means to prevent contaminated fish being consumed
30. DG SANCO supported the third training workshop on EU import standards for fish and aquaculture products, held in Dakar, Senegal.
31. The Commission amended its decision on zones regarded as free from aquaculture diseases and disease-free farms in areas outside these zones.
32. New EU Directive adopted on the health of farmed fish and shellfish, and disease control in the aquaculture sector.
33. The Commission published comments on the OIE Aquatic Animals Code regarding international standards on diseases of aquatic animals.
34. The Commission published a list of Member State Competent Authorities responsible for regulating foods for particular nutritional uses.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission has indicated the funds per Member State to be made available under the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), which from the beginning of 2007, will replace the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) as the EU's core instrument for financial support to the fisheries sector and fishing communities. It will run for seven years with a budget of EUR 3.849 billion. EUR 272 million has been set aside for Bulgaria and Romania when they accede to the European Union, on 1 January 2007. Around EUR 2.6 billion have been allocated under the EFF to less developed regions of the EU.

2. The European Commission amended the rules of the EFF in respect of enhancement of safety, hygiene, working conditions, product quality and energy efficiency on board fishing vessels. In future it will be possible to replace engines on condition that the new engine has at least 20% less power than the one which it replaces, and that this reduction in power is permanently deducted from the reference level of the fleet. In addition, up to 4% of the tonnage withdrawn with public aid may be reallocated to vessels of any age (new or existing), to cover increases in capacity due to improved quality and safety conditions.

3. EU Fisheries Ministers agreed the fishing possibilities for 2007 in the Baltic Sea. Fishing days for Baltic cod will be reduced by 10%, with a further 15% cut subject to an agreement on the setting up of a cod recovery plan by 30 June 2007. Sprat quotas are to be increased by 8%, while catch possibilities on herring remain more or less the same. There is a 5% reduction in the number of salmon that can be caught.

4. Preliminary scientific advice on Community fish stocks was published by the Advisory Committee on Fisheries Management (AFCM) of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). There are encouraging signs from a number of stocks, in particular northern hake and mackerel. However, other stocks show little or no signs of improvement, notably cod in European waters. Commissioner Joe Borg claimed that the advice shows that the long-term approach adopted by the EU is starting to bear some fruit, but acknowledged that much still needs to be done, and that there is a need to review the cod recovery plans.

5. The European Union, the Faeroe Islands, Iceland and Norway, agreed on management measures for blue whiting in the north-east Atlantic for 2007, with a reduced Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 1,700,000 tonnes, down from 2,000,000 tonnes for this year.

6. Agreement was reached in Edinburgh between the European Commission, Norway and the Faroe Islands on management measures for mackerel in the north east Atlantic for 2007. The Parties agreed on a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 422,551 tonnes (compared to 373,535 tonnes in 2006).

7. The EU and Norway signed a Memorandum of Understanding on monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries activity relating to shared stocks. The parties will exchange information on landings, exchange inspectors and information on inspections, cooperate in aerial surveillance and sightings of fishing vessels, undertake joint training of officials and improve dialogue at a technical level

8. The Administrative Board of the newly created Community Fisheries Control Agency adopted its work programme for its first year of operations. The Agency will have a EUR 5 million budget and will recruit 38 staff, to be based in Brussels until a future move to Vigo.

9. At the annual meeting of South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) (established in March 2004 between Angola, the European Union, Namibia and Norway) the parties decided to ban transhipments at sea, blacklist vessels which undertake illegal fishing activities, place scientific observers on board vessels, apply the satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS) and catch reporting requirements, reduce incidental mortality of seabirds, especially petrels and albatrosses, ban shark finning and reduce incidental mortality of sea turtles.

10. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), at its meeting from 2 to 6 October, in Madrid, recommended a reduction in fishing mortality for blue fin tuna. It estimates that at present fishing effort is more than three times the level that would provide optimum returns. Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, called for urgent cooperation and action from all Parties concerned, with decision on management measures to be proposed for the ICCAT meeting in November.

11. The Council passed a regulation banning vessels blacklisted by the NEAFC from landing or taking supplies in EU ports, or transshipping to EU vessels, and prohibiting the trading of illegal, unregulated and unrecorded catches by EU enterprises.

12. Stop fishing notices were published for Spanish vessels fishing for forkbeard, United Kingdom vessels fishing for herring and cod, French vessels fishing for bluefin tuna, Swedish and Latvian vessels fishing for Northern prawns and Estonian, German, Latvian, Lithuanian and Portuguese vessels fishing for redfish in NAFO.

13. The European Commission decided to allocate additional fishing days in 2006 to Netherlands in the Skagerrak, to compensate for the permanent withdrawal of beam trawl capacity from the Dutch fleet.

14. The European Commission has taken the Netherlands to the European Court of Justice over its rules restricting the seeding into Dutch coastal waters of mussels and oysters coming from other Member States. The Commission does not agree with the Dutch argument that the ban is necessary to protect the vulnerable habitats of such waters, as the kind of protection sought by the Dutch authorities is already guaranteed by a parallel licensing regime in execution of the Dutch nature protection law.

15. Commissioner Borg visited Romania to review progress in integrating the acquis in relation to the Common Fisheries Policy. The fishing fleet register is now complete, and all vessels have been re-measured as part of the EU vessel re-measuring scheme. A satellite-based VMS system has been established, and discussions with the Commission are ongoing as regards a National Strategic Plan for the fishing sector, which will qualify for EFF support.

16. Commissioner Borg visited Bulgaria to review progress in integrating the acquis in relation to the Common Fisheries Policy. Bulgaria has modernised its fisheries administration in preparation for implementing the Common Fisheries Policy, with the establishment of a fleet register, a computerised catch registration system, and a satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS).

17. The European Union and the Government of Guinea Bissau agreed to extend the Protocol of the existing Fisheries Agreement, pending ongoing negotiations regarding a new Fisheries Partnership Agreement.

18. The European Community and the Government of the Solomon Islands notified each other on 28 June and 9 October 2006 respectively that their adoption procedures had been completed. The Fisheries Partnership Agreement accordingly entered into force on 9 October 2006.

19. The EU Council has passed regulations ratifying the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Government of Seychelles (initialled in March 2005) and between the EU and the Government of Comoros Islands (initialled in November 2004).


Fish hygiene

20. During September 2006, there were 39 rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products. These included products from United Kingdom (smoked salmon, pink shrimps), Spain (swordfish, mussels), Latvia (fish protein in cattle feed), Denmark (swordfish), Italy (clams) and Greece (fresh seabass). 21. After some debate and delays, the EU Commission imposed safeguard measures for fishery products from Brazil, following an FVO inspection in June 2006 (not yet published) which found problems related to possible levels of histamine in Brazilian fishery products, poor hygiene in fishery production, and questionable approval procedures for Brazilian fishery establishments. These measures allow exports to continue but require mandatory testing of relevant species for histamines. Some Member States has proposed an alternative ban. In addition, the Commission decided that five fishery establishments in Brazil which were identified by the FVO to be non-compliant with EU hygiene rules should be removed from the list of establishments authorised to export to the EU, in addition to those de-listed by the Brazilian authorities. The EU Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, Markos Kyprianou, visited Brazil in October 2006, following this and other negative findings from FVO inspection missions (in relation to residue controls) and a foot and mouth disease outbreak resulting in an EU beef ban.

22. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Bosnia Herzogovina in 2005, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products from aquaculture to the EU market. The mission found that veterinarians contracted for official controls could have conflicts of interest in relation to private services offered to the same aquaculture units. No laboratories were accredited, sample traceability was poor. The State Veterinary Office had no system for limiting movement of diseased fish from infected farms. No establishments had any HACCP systems. The report recommends that no supply to the EU can be permitted until satisfactory guarantees are provided.

23. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Ecuador in 2005, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that the Competent Authority (Instituto Nacional de Pesca) had no national legislation to define the system of control, had approved non-compliant establishments, did not follow up on identified deficiencies. Inspectors did not inspect fishing vessels, were not fully aware of community requirements, and permitted use of hyper-chlorinated water in contact with the product. There was no monitoring programme for aquaculture drug residues, and negative water quality test results were not followed up. Out of 11 establishments visited four had serious deficiencies. The mission concluded that the CA should submit an action plan subsequent to providing guarantees that observed deficiencies had been corrected.

24. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a follow up mission to Germany in 2005, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery and bivalve products. The mission reviewed actions relating to defects identified in 2001, and found that the controls systems still do not meet the requirements of the EU Directives and regulations. In particular, there was no means to suspend sale of live bivalve molluscs from some regions found not to meet the microbiological standards, and collection of samples by harvesters gives rise to potential conflicts of interest. Inspectors also noted defects in vessels and establishments not identified by the Competent Authority, the Federal Ministry of Food Agriculture and Forestry (BMVEL). Urgent guarantees were sought, along with an action plan.

25. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Mauritius in January 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that written assurances given after the previous mission were "not factual", that there was lack of a lawful basis for approval establishments, lack of checks on sanitary condition of vessels flagged by other third countries, no evidence of use of checklists, lack of follow up on deficiencies in establishments, inadequate range of parameters in residue monitoring and lack of official control over water quality. Two out of five approved establishments did not meet community standards. The Competent Authority, the Directorate of Veterinary Services, was considered not capable of meeting the special conditions set out in the List 1 Decision of the Commission, and was required to prepare an action plan within 25 days and submit appropriate guarantees.

26. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Mozambique in April 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that there was lack of coordination between the CA and the regional offices, lack of follow up on noted deficiencies, lack of control over artisanal vessels and landings, no assessment of HACCP plans, permitted use of hyper-chlorinated water, no inspection of aquaculture establishments, no sampling and testing for heavy metals, and inadequate testing of water and ice. The residue monitoring plan for aquaculture products was non-compliant and was not implemented. Six establishments were approved when they did not meet the conditions, even though they were subsequently de-listed (before the inspection mission). The Competent Authority, Instituto Nacional de Inpsecção Pescado of the Ministry of Fisheries, was required to prepare an action plan of urgent measures, and submit it to the Commission within 25 days.

27. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG Sanco reported on a mission to Poland to assess compliance with Community provisions regarding dioxins and dioxin like PCBs in fishery products. Poland has not applied for any derogations to the Community limits on dioxins and PCBs. The mission found that the legislation and monitoring system were satisfactory, but that there was no monitoring (due to start in Oct 2006) and no measures to prevent fish with excessive concentrations from being placed on the Community market. Studies were available on exposure of the population to dioxins in fishery products and despite evidence of excessive levels in Baltic fish, and no specific dietary advice had been given.

28. The Food and Veterinary Office also reported on a mission to Latvia to assess compliance with Community provisions regarding dioxins and dioxin like PCBs in fishery products. The mission concluded that there were no measures in place to prevent fish with excessive dioxin concentrations from being placed on the Community market.

29. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG Sanco reported on a mission to Lithuania to assess compliance with Community provisions regarding dioxins and dioxin like PCBs in fishery products. The mission found that the control system functions well, but casts doubt on the laboratory findings in which the levels of dioxins and PCBs found are not consistent with other tests on Baltic fishery products. In addition there are no measures to prevent fish with excessive concentrations from being placed on the Community market.

30. The European Commission held a training workshop in Dakar, Senegal on EU import standards for fish and aquaculture products. The workshop was part of the "Better training for safer food" and follows similar workshops on fishery products held in Indonesia in April and Colombia in June 2006. The workshop, funded by DG SANCO, was attended by personnel of national level control authorities within the West African region, and it covered EU legislation, and its implementation by Competent Authorities and fishery business operators.

31. The Commission approved the Member State disease monitoring programmes for the purposes of defining approved zones in EU Member States free of certain aquaculture diseases, and disease-free farms outside these zones; based on the results it also amended the decision on those zones regarded as free from diseases and listing disease free farms in areas outside these zones.

32. The EU Council adopted a new Directive on the health of farmed fish and shellfish, and disease control in the aquaculture sector. The Directive requires EU Member States to implement a standard approach to ensuring important fish diseases are subject to preventive and control measures, as well as ensuring disease-free fish farms are protected from the introduction of pathogens, and that no new diseases affecting aquaculture animals enter the EU.

33. The Commission published its formal comments on the OIE Aquatic Animals Code regarding international standards to be applied to control animal diseases of aquatic animals.

34. The Commission has published a list of Member State Competent Authorities responsible for regulating foods for particular nutritional uses (including special dietary purposes).

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