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

Common Fisheries Policy


1. EU Council of Fisheries Ministers sets the 2007 TACs and fish quotas
2. EU Council of Fisheries Ministers amends 2006 fishing possibilities; new ban on certain shark landings
3. New regime published for fisheries management in the Mediterranean.
4. Stop fishing notices published for many EU fleets
5. Fisheries sector market interventions brought under the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund.
6. EU sets new price fish price subsidy levels for 2007.
7. Commission modifies annual fisheries data returns from Member States
8. EU to require vessels >15m length to submit electronic daily catch reports
9. EU ratifies 2-year Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania; financial compensation of EUR86 million/year
10. EU initials 5-year Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mozambique; financial compensation of EUR900,000/year
11. EU ratifies 5-year Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Cape Verde; financial compensation of EUR385,000/year.
12. EU and Norway agree quotas on shared fish stocks and exchanges for 2007.
13. EU and Denmark agree on provisional application of Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Greenland.
14. Commission proposes Baltic Sea fisheries agreement with the Russian Federation.
15. Commission praises United Nations' Resolution on destructive fishing practices.
16. Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission acts against IUU fishing.
17. EU Commission amends rules for fishing vessel registers.
18. EU extends tariff quota for shrimps, prawns and Norway lobsters from the Faroe Islands.
19. EU modifies list of imported products subject to customs tariff exemptions.
20. New annual tariff quota on fishery products from Albania.
21. New funding announced for Fisheries Regional Advisory Councils.
22. Commission lifts fines on France for CFP breaches.
23. EU Commissioners promote the proposed new EU Maritime Policy.

Fish hygiene

24. Twenty one rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products.
25. Commission refers Greece to the European Court for food safety and veterinary failures.
26. New regulation on sampling and analysis of heavy metals and 3-MCPD
27. Commission sets new residue limits on dioxins and benzopyrene
28. New regulation on sampling of fish for analysis of dioxins and benzopyrene
29. EFTA surveillance authority recommends dioxin reduction plan
30. Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published December 2006, report for Year 2005.
31. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Albania
32. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Jamaica
33. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Kenya
34. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to the Russian Federation
35. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Yemen
36. DG SANCO updates public information on animal health controls for fishery and aquaculture imports
37. EU revises directive on quality of waters from which bivalve shellfish are harvested
38. EU Commission considers labeling of water content in fish and fishery products
39. EU Commission considers regulating bacterial cultures and bacteriophages as food additives.
40. New Community Reference Laboratory announced for Food Contact Materials

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU's Council of Fisheries Ministers agreed the 2007 TACs and fish quotas for community fish stocks. The relevant Council Regulations were passed, with separate regulations published for TACs and fish quotas in the Baltic Sea and deep seas stocks, in line with the new approach to "front-loading" of the TACs and quota decisions. The Commission undertook an extensive publicity campaign of speeches and press releases explaining that TACs were based on science combined with "stakeholders' expertise".

2. The Fisheries Council also passed a Regulation amending the 2006 fishing possibilities to take into account a number of recent international agreements (e.g. ban on retention on board of certain shark species), identification of new opportunities (whiting for human consumption, redfish in the Icelandic EEZ), and a number of other amendments.

3. The EU has published the draft Council Regulation setting out the new regime for fisheries management and technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean. The Regulation will replace Council Regulation (EC) No 1626/94 of 27 June 1994 and implement the Commission's Action Plan on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea. Amongst other measures, it sets new mesh and hook-size limits and defines protected areas in which only selective gears may be applied.

4. Stop fishing notices were published for Portuguese vessels fishing for Greenland halibut, hake and anglerfish, Belgian vessels fishing for hake, French vessels fishing for herring and mackerel, Spanish vessels fishing for Greenland halibut and Swedish vessels fishing for common sole. All Community vessels were stopped from fishing for Norway pout.

5. The EU passed a Regulation bringing fisheries sector market interventions under the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund, following the centralization of the system of management of agricultural price support mechanisms in 2005. New standardized exchange rates, payment procedures and information requirements for the payments system are now set.

6. The Council also approved the new guide, withdrawal, and reference prices, and the rates of processing and carry over aid, all determining the levels of price subsidies to be received by the sector in 2007. New standard values and yield factors were also set for use in calculating financial compensation levels.

7. The EU passed a Regulation amending the statistical data which must be submitted by Member States to the Commission, requiring annual (rather than monthly) returns on landings and prices, improved disaggregation of landings data by flag of vessel, new catch sampling requirements, and setting a requirement for member States to define their statistical methodologies.

8. The EU passed a Regulation which will require operators of fishing vessels to electronically record and transmit on a daily basis, data on catches, landing, transhipments and sales, and require Member States to set up a means of remote monitoring, effective from 2 years (vessels >24m) and 3.5 years (vessels >15m).

9. The Council passed a Regulation approving the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement and setting the Community fishing opportunities in 11 categories of fishing vessel, in return for financial compensation of EUR86 million/year, for the two years from 1 August 2006.

10. The Commission announced the initialling of a Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the Government of Mozambique for a period of 5 years from 1 January 2007. The Agreement will provide for an increased quota of tuna and related species of 10,000 tonnes, providing fishing possibilities for 44 purse seiners and 45 long-liners, in return for EUR900,000/year. Fishing opportunities on deep water shrimps have been eliminated.

11. The EU Council approved the EU-Cape Verde Fisheries Partnership Agreement, setting Community fishing opportunities for surface longliners (Spain 41 and Portugal 7), freezer tuna seiners (Spain 12, and France 13), and pole-and-line tuna vessels (Spain 7 and France 4), in return for financial compensation of EUR385,000/year, for five years from 1 September 2006.

12. The Commission announced the agreement for 2007 between Norway and the European Community regarding the seven shared fish stocks in the North Sea, and a series of exchanges of fishing possibilities in the North Sea and North-East Atlantic.

13. The Commission announced that it has reached agreement with Denmark (on behalf of Greenland) providing for the provisional application of the new Fisheries Partnership Agreement from 1 January 2007, pending formal ratification by the parties.

14. The Commission announced that it has proposed a bilateral agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation on co-operation in fisheries and the conservation of the living marine resources in the Baltic Sea. The new agreement, is proposed for an initial period of six years, and will set out provisions on joint management measures.

15. The European Commission hailed as a "a true regime shift", the United Nations' 2006 Sustainable Fisheries Resolution, to act on preventing destructive fishing practices impacting on vulnerable marine ecosystems, despite criticism that the resolution was too weak.

16. At the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) held in Apia, Samoa, agreement was reached on a range of new conservation and control measures, including a blacklist of vessels engaged in Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.

17. The Commission passed a Regulation amending the rules for fishing vessel registers held by Member States, amending census dates and introducing more comprehensive definitions and coding of fishing gears, especially for small craft.

18. The Commission extended the annual tariff quota for shrimps, prawns and Norway lobsters, from Faroe Islands, it is now up to 4,000 tonnes/year.

19. The EU Council Regulation amended the list of species and products subject to customs tariff exemptions on import to Community, with emphasis on fishery products destined for secondary processing within the EU.

20. The Commission has opened an annual tariff quota for the import into the EU of trout, carp, seabass and seabream, and canned sardines from Albania, starting from 1 December 2006, under the terms of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement.

21. The European Commission has proposed to class Fisheries Regional Advisory Councils as contributing to the European interest, thereby allowing grant funding from the EU budget of up to 90 % of their costs (up to EUR250,000 each).

22. Following the judgment of the European Court of Justice, in July 2005, in which France was fined EUR20 million and a periodic 6-month penalty of EU58 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.

23. In a series of speeches and conference events, EU Commissioners for Environment and for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs promoted the proposed new EU Maritime Policy. Commissioner Joe Borg claimed the Community can learn from France's long tradition of maritime governance.

Fish hygiene

24. During December 2006, there were 21 rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products. These included products from Brazil (fresh mullet), Namibia (mako shark), Australia (tiger prawns), Chile (frozen pre-cooked mussels) and Argentina (Merluccius hubsi and Acanthistius brasilianus)

25. The European Commission announced that it will refer Greece to the European Court of Justice, for its continuing failure to properly staff its veterinary services, resulting in inadequate enforcement of EU food safety and animal health legislation. Recent FVO inspection reports have confirmed that the standard of enforcement of EU veterinary legislation is very poor; the Commission states it has "no alternative" but to act.

26. The Commission passed a new regulation consolidating and updating regulations on sampling and analysis of the levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, inorganic tin and 3-MCPD in foods setting out new and consolidated permitted maximum residue levels of these compounds.

27. The Commission also passed a regulation setting out the new (reduced) maximum residue limits for the sum of dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs, and benzopyrene in foodstuffs, compliant with recent changes in Codex Alimentarius, and reflecting the principle "as low as reasonably achievable" in accordance with good practice and consumer safety.

28. The Commission also passed a regulation setting out new sampling and analysis requirements for the official control of levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in foodstuffs. It sets new requirements for screening methods, taking account for fish size in sampling, and special requirements for sampling of large fish. Also specifies requirements for reporting of results.

29. The EFTA surveillance authority made specific recommendations on the surveillance of foods for levels dioxins, furans and PCBs in animal feeds and foodstuffs, and on active follow up to eliminate sources of contamination.

30. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published its annual report for 2005. Out of 223 inspection missions in 63 countries, 34 were conducted in third countries, 17 of which with regard to fishery products. In EU Member states, problems with controls for fishery products were still encountered in relation to insufficient capacities of competent authorities, inadequate supervision of establishments and vessels, deficiencies in both establishments and vessels, and inadequate monitoring of marine biotoxins in the case of bivalve molluscs. In third countries, none of the countries inspected complied with all relevant conditions for exporting fishery products to the EU, and in the case of Indonesia and Madagascar deficiencies were so severe that they resulted in trade restrictions. Exporters of aquaculture products were also criticized for the weakness of the residue monitoring systems for veterinary medicines.

31. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Albania, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs to the EU market. The mission found that there was the monitoring and controls for animal health in fish farming were weak, there was a lack of controls and monitoring of veterinary drugs used in aquaculture, HACCP conditions in industry were not correctly applied and the mission was concerned that the Competent Authority could not deliver standards at least equivalent to the 2004 hygiene package. Despite improvement in the system of live bivalve mollusc controls, there were the monitoring programme remains deficient. The CA was asked to submit a plan of corrective actions, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

32. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Jamaica, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs to the EU market. The mission found that Jamaican legislation did not specify requirements for certain heavy metals or for water quality in processing, Competent Authority staff had very limited awareness of Community standards, approved establishments had several shortcomings not identified by the inspectors, audit reports were not available, residue monitoring of aquaculture products was inadequate, and industry was not performing adequate own-checks. Monitoring of marine biotoxins in marine gastropods exported to the EU (Conch) was found to be inadequate in terms of sampling and laboratory analysis. The CA was asked to submit a plan of corrective actions, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

33. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Kenya, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs to the EU market. The mission found that the current legislation was not compliant with Community requirements in several respects (despite this comment also being made at the previous FVO inspection in 2000), staff were not properly trained in official controls, there was a lack of controls on fishery products imported for re-export, a testing laboratory reported analytical results when equipment was non-operational, there was no histamine and heavy metal monitoring, and continuing deficient conditions were noted at Lake Victoria landing sites, with only 6 landing sites subject to improvement. The mission team was also refused entry to one processing establishment. The CA was asked to submit a plan of corrective actions, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

34. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to the Russian Federation, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs to the EU market. This was the first mission since 1996. The mission found that there some Russian standards and analytical methods applied were not compliant with Community legislation. In the establishments, histamine was not addressed in the HACCP plans, and determination of critical control points was based on compliance with Russian standards, there was no control on origin of raw materials used by approved establishments, environmental residue monitoring programmes were only partial, contracted testing laboratories were not applying standard sampling and testing methodologies, there were many hygiene deficiencies found in establishments and vessels visited. Although the system cannot be considered equivalent the mission considered that there was no immediate risk for consumer health. The CA was asked to submit a plan of corrective actions, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

35. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Yemen, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs to the EU market, following serious deficiencies detected in an earlier mission. The mission found that there were serious shortcomings. The was no evidence of any additional training of inspection staff, that products were certified for export even though heavy metals exceeded EU and Yemeni limits, the main testing laboratory was not accredited, instruments were not calibrated and sample anonymity traceability was poor, conditions in some landing sites and cold stores were found to be "extremely dirty", HACCP plans were prepared by consultants, in English, and not understood by the staff of processing establishments, and HACCP conditions were not assessed by the Competent Authority, sampling and testing for water safety and histamine was not compliant with EU standards, serious deficiencies were found in newly approved establishments, there was persistent use of hyper-chlorinated water, and unhygienic conditions in cold storage. The CA was asked to submit a plan of corrective actions to be completed before the end of 2006, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

36. DG SANCO has updated their public information on measures to control fish and bivalve diseases, and the Community measures for control of animal health conditions in relation on fishery and aquaculture products imported from third countries.

37. The EU published the Directive requiring Member States to control and monitor the quality of waters from which bivalve shellfish are harvested, setting key water quality parameters.

38. The Commission once again considered the issue of labeling of water content in fish and fishery products, and the need to distinguish between added water and glaze. The 5% declaration limit on added water will be retained.

39. The Commission announced that it is considering regulating the use of bacterial cultures as anti-microbial food additives. A document for discussion/endorsement is being prepared. The Commission also discussed the use of commercial bacteriophage products for decontamination of Listeria monocytogenes in foods.

40. The Commission announced that it has created a new Community Reference Laboratory (CRL) for Food Contact Materials, to be located at the Joint Research Centre at Ispra, Italy.

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