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FISHERIES POLICY AND FISH HYGIENE
TECHNICAL INFORMATION IN FOOD & FISHERIES POLICY & DEVELOPMENT
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November 2006

Common Fisheries Policy


1. Council of Fisheries Ministers agrees important conservation measures for Mediterranean fisheries.
2. Progress on new regional fisheries management organisation for non-tuna fish stocks in the South Pacific
3. New measures to fight illegal fishing in the CCAMLR area.
4. New port state control scheme adopted by the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission
5. Strong new measures introduced by ICCAT, includes powers to inspect on high seas
6. Commission proposes increases to the EU financial support for Regional Advisory Councils (RACs)
7. Total allowable catch (TAC) for North Sea sprat reduced
8. European Commission commutes the 2005 periodic fines on France for breaches of fisheries conservation rules
9. Stop fishing notices issued for Swedish, French, German, Belgian and Portuguese vessels
10. Commission proposes renewal of the EUR15 million annual fishery subsidy for the EU outermost regions.
11. Commission published 2007 guide prices for fresh and frozen fisheries products.
12. The 2006 tariff quotas were extended for cod, blue grenadier, anchovy, squid, tuna loins and Arctic shrimp.
13. Council extends the derogation allowing subsidies for modernization and renewal of fishing vessels in the Outermost Regions of the EU
14. EU promotes new moves at the UN to apply the precautionary principle to destructive fishing practices
15. EU Council provisionally approves a protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Gabon
16. Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg gave a speech arguing in favour of a "common EU maritime space"

Fish hygiene

17. During November 2006, there were 34 rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products.
18. Commission sets new approach to controls on fish imports from third countries; "List II" will be for bilateral trade only.
19. Commission publishes new model certifications for fishery products and bivalve molluscs for trade from third countries
20. Commission publishes new, more flexible, language requirements for fishery product health certificates
21. Many out of date technical provisions for fishery products repealed, to harmonise with new hygiene regulations
22. Use of the AOAC Lawrence method for detection of the shellfish poisons to be allowed.
23. Commission amended the hygiene rules for fish oils for human consumption.
24. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Cambodia in 2005; "Cambodia is not in a position to export to fishery products to the EU"
25. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Croatia in 2005; some deficiencies noted.
26. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Guatemala in 2005; Competent Authority under-resourced.
27. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Greenland in 2006; no implementation of fishing vessel inspections.
28. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Taiwan China in 2006; Competent Authority not capable of delivering the special conditions
29. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Cuba in 2006; defects noted, but immediate and serious risks unlikely

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The November meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers, reached political agreement on three important Commission proposals to improve sustainability of EU fisheries. These relate to a). New conservation measures for the Mediterranean, which will strengthen the selectivity of towed gears through an increase in trawl mesh sizes, protect coastal waters from the use of towed gears, and encourage more selective fishing gears; b). Requiring the use of electronic log books by skippers, landing declarations and sales notes to be implemented for all boats over 15 metres by 2011. The regulation will also introduce the use of satellite imagery for remote sensing of vessels; c).Following scientific recommendations, the adoption of reduced fishing possibilities on deep sea species for the next two years, with cuts of between 15 to 25% in each of 2007 and 2008. A further 5% cut will be debated in December.

2. The European Commission participated in a second meeting on the setting up of a regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO), to manage non-tuna fish stocks in the South Pacific in Hobart, Australia. Although some progress was made on the legal framework of a new Convention, there was no progress on voluntary interim measures to manage bottom gear fishing activities (an immediate freeze on current levels and improved collection of data and information).

3. Following proposals by the European Union at it annual meeting in Hobart, Australia, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR), has introduced new measures to fight illegal fishing in the CCAMLR area. CCAMLR Members will be obliged to investigate and take action against any of their nationals suspected of engaging in illegal fishing activities, including the transhipment, transport and marketing of illegally caught fish.

4. The Commission has welcomed a new port state control scheme adopted by the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). The scheme, which will become applicable from 1 May 2007, will require the flag states to give a green light to port states of the Contracting Parties to NEAFC before foreign fishing vessels will be authorised to land frozen fish products. The measures also include new obligations and benchmarks as regards inspections to be carried out by the port state. The measure is mainly aimed at countering landings of illegal cod catches from the Barents Sea. 5. At the Dubrovnik meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the European Commission promoted improved controls and monitoring of catches for Atlantic bluefin tuna. The members agreed to implement new measures starting from 1st January 2007, to include a reduction in the total allowable catch from the current 32,000 tonnes to 25,500 tonnes in 2010, extension of the closed seasons, increase in the minimum landing sizes from 10 to 30Kg, and a global control system with a joint international inspection scheme which allows for inspections by one contracting party of any contracting party's vessel on the high seas. The use of spotting aircraft will also be banned, as will transhipment of bluefin tuna at sea.

6. The European Commission proposed significant increases to the EU financial support given to the recently established Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) to the application of the Common Fisheries Policy. In future they will receive a stable annual contribution from the EU budget to cover up to 90 % of their operational, translation and interpretation costs. The contribution will correspond EUR250,000 per RAC.

7. Following scientific advice provided by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Commission's advisory committee, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee (STECF), concluded that the 2005 year class for sprat is very weak. The European Commission therefore adopted a Regulation setting a reduced total allowable catch (TAC) for sprat in the North Sea for 2006 at 175 000 tonnes. This TAC will cover all fisheries, including those already carried out, and includes the quotas allocated to Norway and the Faroe Islands.

8. Following the judgment of the European Court of Justice, in July 2005, in which France was fined € 20 million and a periodic 6-month penalty of nearly €58 for continuing failure to apply technical conservation measures and to act against non-compliant vessels, the European Commission decided that France has now met her legal obligations and the periodic fine is now commuted.

9. Due to exhaustion of quota, the Commission issued stop fishing notice for Swedish vessels fishing for common sole and cod, French vessels fishing for blue whiting, German vessels fishing for cod, lemon sole and witch, Belgian vessels fishing for saithe and Norway lobster, and Portuguese vessels fishing for redfish.

10. Despite the impacts on fish trade from adjacent non-EU regions, the European Commission proposed the renewal and revision of the subsidy scheme for additional costs incurred in marketing fishery products from the EU outermost regions (Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the French departments of Guiana and Réunion) for the period 2007-2013. The new scheme, worth EUR15 million/year, will allow Member States to define for each region which products are eligible, and there will be more flexibility to define the eligibility criteria and the level of subsidy.

11. The European Commission has published its proposal on 2007 guide prices for fresh and frozen fisheries products as well as the Community producer price for tuna for processing, which determine withdrawal price levels. The Commission proposes to raise guide prices for the majority of white fish species such as saithe and haddock by between 0.5 % and 3%. However, there will be decreases of the same order for other white fish species, notably cod and spotted dogfish.

12. The Council of Ministers has extended the 2006 tariff quotas on some important fishery products imported into the European Union for further processing. These include: cod, blue grenadier, anchovy, squid, tuna loins and Arctic shrimp.

13. The EU Council passed a regulation extending the derogation granted to fishery sector in the Outermost Regions of the EU, which allows public aid to be granted with respect to modernization of fleet (in terms of tonnage and/or power) and renewal of fishing vessels, providing that the reference tonnage has not been exceeded.

14. The European Union called for an effective package of measures to tackle the impact of destructive fishing practices on the high seas at the UN General Assembly debate on sustainable fisheries held in New York. Preliminary meetings accepted the need to apply the precautionary principle and for urgent action to put in place effective control measures.

15. The EU Council provisionally approved a protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Gabon, setting out the fishing opportunities for 24 purse seine vessels from Spain and France and 16 long line vessels from Spain and Portugal until 2 December 2011.

16. Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Joe Borg gave a speech at the 3rd European Parliamentary Symposium on Maritime Europe regarding the Green Paper on Maritime Affairs, arguing in favour of a "common EU maritime space" governed by common standards on safety, security and environmental protection. Presented ideas on a European Marine Observation and Data Network, Maritime Safety, improving competitiveness of EU ports, and an EU-wide strategy on ship dismantling.

Fish hygiene

17. During November 2006, there were 34 rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products. These included products from Norway (fresh mackerel, living and boiled crabs), Portugal (swordfish), United Kingdom (monkfish) and Spain (swordfish and canned tuna), Greece (canned squid) and Estonia (salmon roe).

18. The European Commission has revised the system for controlling the supply by third countries of fishery products and bivalve molluscs to the European Community, to bring it into line with the new hygiene and official control regulations passed in 2004. Decision 97/296/EC which sets out so-called List I and List II countries is now repealed, and in future only countries subject to a specific decision of the Commission will be permitted to supply fishery products and bivalve molluscs to the EU. New consolidated lists of third countries are published in Decision 2006 766 EC of 6 November 2006. Commission Regulation No 1666/2006 of 6 November provides a derogation, to allow continuing imports to the Community from existing countries under Part II of the Annex to Decision 97/296/EC (ie.List II countries), but this may only be applied where the Competent Authority of the third country i) provides appropriate guarantees to the importing Member State, ii) applies the new model health certificate and iii) takes appropriate measures to ensure that the products do not enter intra-community trade. Existing List II countries will therefore need to make individual bilateral arrangements to maintain access to EU Member State markets, although the implementation arrangements still need to be clarified. This applies to the following countries: Armenia, Angola, Azerbaijan, Benin, Belarus, Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Eritrea, Fiji, Israel, Myanmar, Solomon Islands, Saint Helena and Togo.

19. The Commission passed a Regulation amending the rules for official controls of products of animal origin set out in Regulation 854/2004, in respect of inter alia the wording of model certificates issued by the Competent Authorities of third countries in relation to consignment of fishery products and bivalve molluscs, which must in future consider the animal health requirements for imports live mollusks and live fish of aquaculture origin, and their eggs and gametes and products thereof intended for human consumption. The European Commission also published a decision setting out the revised and updated animal health conditions and certification requirements for live molluscs and live fish of aquaculture origin, and their products imported from third countries.

20. Commission also passed a Regulation amending the rules for official controls of products of animal origin set out in Regulation 854/2004, in respect of inter alia the language of certificates issued by Competent Authorities in third countries. These must be drawn up at least in the official language or languages of the Member State of destination and those of the Member State in which the border inspection takes place, or be accompanied by a certified translation into that language or languages. However, a Member State may also consent to the use of an official Community language other than its own.

21. Following the implementation of Regulation 853/2004 and 854/2004, the Commission has passed a decision repealing a number of provisions relating to detailed requirements, since these measures are now addressed elsewhere. These include previous decisions relating to equipment and structure of dispatch and purification centres for live bivalve molluscs, rules relating to the detection of parasites in fishery products, rules as regards own health checks on fishery products, limits to total volatile basic nitrogen (TVB-N) limit values for certain categories of fishery products, rules regarding the maximum levels and the methods of analysis of certain marine biotoxins in bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods and decisions approving certain treatments to inhibit the development of pathogenic micro-organisms in bivalve molluscs and marine gastropods.

22. The European Commission amended the permitted reference methods for the detection of the paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) content of edible parts of bivalve mollusks, to allow the use of the Lawrence method as published in AOAC Official Method 2005.06.

23. The Commission passed a regulation amending the specific hygiene rules for products of animal origin set out in Regulation 853/2004, in respect of inter alia fish oils for human consumption.

24. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Cambodia in 2005, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that there was no legislation corresponding to the EU requirements, no requirements for quality of potable water used in fish processing, that the Competent Authority (the Department of Fisheries) was not lawfully nominated, and did not have competencies clearly defined. There was no approval system for fish processing establishments, a lack of awareness of regional staff regarding food safety requirements, no sampling or testing of residues, histamine, or water quality was undertaken, and no procedure for certification according to EU requirements. The mission concluded that "Cambodia is not in a position to export to fishery products to the EU" and required that a satisfactory action plan be submitted to address the failures in legislation, organization and capacity of the CA , laboratory testing and conditions in the sector.

25. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Croatia in 2005, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission followed up from previous missions, and found major discrepancies in Croatian legislation for live bivalve mollusks. Although controls were generally well designed and implemented, the FVO mission noted that veterinarians can both work for and carry out official controls in the same establishment. Laboratory testing was limited by a lack of accreditation, no proficiency testing and some defects on methodologies applied (especially histamine) and record keeping. Although most establishments had HACCP plans, they were generic and not adequate for the activities carried out. Deficiencies in certification were noted to undermine the controls applied. Recommendations were made regarding addressing the deficiencies. It was noted that these should be addressed within the frame of Croatia's EU accession programme.

26. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Guatemala in 2005, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that despite corrective actions promised in 1997, little has been done to address defects in the legislation, and the organization and capacity of the Competent Authority, which is regarded to be under-resourced for the tasks assigned. Staff were not adequately trained, approval conditions were not clearly linked to food safety conditions, with poor follow up on deficiencies identified. There was no testing for histamine in tuna products, and HACCP plans were not properly evaluated. The FVO has required the submission of an action plan to correct the observed deficiencies.

27. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Greenland in 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that the Competent Authority (the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration) had not established a monitoring systems for contaminants even though there was evidence of excessive cadmium in Greenland scallops, on the spot inspections were not fully reliable, there was no implementation of fishing vessel inspections, and some establishments exhibited structural and hygiene deficiencies. The FVO required the Competent Authority to present a plan of corrective actions within 25 days.

28. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Taiwan China in 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products from aquaculture to the EU market. The mission found that there was no specific requirement based on hygiene and HACCP for approval to export to the EU. Inspectors from the Competent Authority (the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection) had only minimal training in food safety conditions, there was no evidence that conditions on vessels and at first sale were checked, and there was no farm-level monitoring of residues in aquaculture products. Exports to the EU were certified from non-approved establishments and there were many deficiencies noted in processing establishments visited. The FVO considers that the Competent Authority cannot be considered capable of delivering the special conditions which set out the List 1 status for access to the EU market. The FVO required the Competent Authority to present a plan of corrective actions within 25 days.

29. The Food and Veterinary Office reported on a mission to Cuba in 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products from aquaculture to the EU market. The mission found some elements of Cuban legislation did not reflect EU requirements including standards for heavy metals and water quality. The Competent Authority (the Quality and Technology Directorate of the Ministry of Fisheries) was found to lack consistency in the application and follow up of the hygiene requirements for processing establishments, there was no monitoring of some important veterinary drug residues in aquaculture product, and testing laboratories did not undertake proficiency testing, even though in one case it was accredited. However, the FVO concludes that it is unlikely that any immediate and serious risks occur, and required the submission of a corrective action plan.

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