FishFiles Lite Newsletter
FISHERIES POLICY AND FISH HYGIENE
TECHNICAL INFORMATION IN FOOD & FISHERIES POLICY & DEVELOPMENT
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January 2007

Common Fisheries Policy


1. EU publishes consolidated TACs and quota regulation for 2007
2. EU, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation agree on sharing north-east Atlantic herring stocks.
3. European Commission warns Member States on future of deep-sea fish stocks.
4. European Commission welcomes new measures from the strengthened General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM)
5. EU welcomes Kobe Agreement between tuna regional fisheries management organizations for improved cooperation on IUU tuna fishing.
6. EU to support Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) with a EUR7 million plan to fight IUU tuna fisheries
7. International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas agreed a gradual reduction in the allowable catch of bluefin tuna

Fish hygiene

8. Forty six rapid alerts were notified for non-compliant consignments of fisheries products
9. European Commission lifts ban on intra community trade of meat, fish and dairy products from Romania
10. The FVO published an inspection mission report on Iran; not able to guarantee conditions of at least equivalence to EU requirements
11. The FVO published an inspection mission report on Maldives; serious risks to consumer health from a non-compliant cannery
12. The FVO announced its programme of inspection visits for 2007; 29 third country exporters of fish to be inspected
13. Commission published an updated register of food safety guidelines and codes of practice developed and published by EU Member States.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Council of Ministers issued the consolidated regulation setting out the final TACs and Community quota allocations for 2007, for fishing in EU waters and for Community vessels in waters where catches are subject to TAC.

2. The European Union, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation have made a coastal states agreement on the allocation of fishing possibilities for the Atlanto-Scandian (Norwegian spring-spawning) herring stock in the north-east Atlantic. The Parties agreed that the overall catch limitation for 2007 would be fixed at a level of 1,280,000 tonnes in line with ICES advice. The EU share will be 83,328 tonnes. The parties also agreed upon reciprocal access arrangements, allowing each of them to fish their quota in one another's waters.

3. Following a review of the management of deep-sea fish stocks the European Commission issued a warning to Member States that reductions in catches of deep sea species are inevitable, either through choice to conserve the stocks concerned or by regulation. However, the Commission recognises the difficulty of introducing management measures in the absence of reliable information on the fisheries concerned, and the reluctance by Member States to curb development of new fisheries, suggesting that new measures to improve reporting and cooperation between parties are required.

4. The European Commission welcomed measures adopted by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) to promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. A compliance committee is to be set up to improve enforcement of fisheries regulations, voluntary measures will be introduced for improved selectivity in bottom trawls, and the GFCM will strengthen fisheries management cooperation between Black Sea coastal states. For the first time the GFCM will have a budget to improve implementation capacity, recruit staff etc.

5. The EU has welcomed the agreement reached in Kobe on 26 January 2007 between the 5 world tuna regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). New levels of cooperation will step up the fight against illegal fishing activities, establish a global white list of registered tuna vessels, and a global black list of vessels engaging in illegal fishing activities, set up a catch and trade monitoring system, and regulate the transhipment of tuna at sea. The presentation of scientific advice will be standardised following the approach agreed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Implementation of the measures will be subject to a performance review within the next 12-18 months by RFMO members and external experts. Another joint meeting of the tuna RFMOs will be held in January 2009 in Spain.

6. The EU has agreed with the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) a plan to fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fisheries in the region. A framework partnership agreement sets out a regional plan for fisheries surveillance in the southwest Indian Ocean, to be funded by an EU grant of EUR 7 million covering its first three years (2007-2010). Measures will include a ban on transhipment at sea and denial of access to ports for vessels that have been blacklisted by any regional fisheries management organisation, or that are not included on the "white list" of vessels fishing legally. Other actions also include harmonisation of national legislation against IUU fisheries, and setting fines at a level that deter illegal activities.

7. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) proposed more specific measures following its 2006 decision to put in place a 15-year recovery plan for the over-fished bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Among the main measures agreed was a gradual reduction in the overall total allowable catch (TAC) from 32,000 tonnes to 25,500 tonnes in 2010. The allocation of this TAC was agreed, with an initial EU quota of 16,820 tonnes for 2007. The new EU quota now also includes the allocation for Cyprus and for Malta.

Fish hygiene

8. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 46 consignments of fishery products, including from Kenya (two consignments of nile perch), Indonesia (three consignments of grouper and one of tuna), Malaysia (frozen prawns) and Brazil (four consignments, including swordfish, yellow snapper and shrimp).

9. The European Commission passed a Decision, lifting the blanket restriction on intra-community trade of meat, fish and dairy products from Romania, and listing the approved and derogated establishments which are allowed to participate in the single market. Seven approved fishery product establishments are listed.

10. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report of an inspection mission to Iran in May 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that 17 establishments had been suspended 10 days before the inspection mission, although at least one had not been informed. One cold store used to supply fish for export was not subject to approval. Some landing and storage facilities were inadequate, and numerous deficiencies were noted in one of the approved processing establishments visited. Cold storage temperatures were inadequate and not properly monitored, and establishments were not pest-proofed. None of the testing laboratories used by the Competent Authority were accredited. Only two laboratories had testing capacity for histamine, nether of which could undertake the reference test, there was no capacity for L.monocytogenese testing, despite the export of ready to eat products (caviar), there was no proficiency testing programme, and most reagents used for microbiological testing by the Central Veterinary Laboratory had expired. There was no monitoring of heavy metals and environmental contaminants. HACCP plans in tuna establishments had been approved, despite the lack of histamine testing in the programme. The mission concluded that the current system was not able to guarantee conditions of at least equivalent to EU requirements, and required the submission of a corrective action plan, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

11. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report of an inspection mission to the Maldives in March 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that the control system was based on outdated EU Directives and did not reflect changes in EU legislation since 2004 (i.e. the new hygiene package). Inspection staff were not specifically trained in fishery product hazards and controls, there were no defined inspection programmes, there was no formal follow up on corrective actions required, a factory vessel had been "conditionally" approved whilst non-compliant, there were no histamine checks applied in an accredited laboratory using the reference test methods, and no monitoring of lead and cadmium levels was undertaken. However mercury testing was undertaken in an (establishment's) accredited laboratory. One of the five approved establishments (a tuna cannery) was not in compliance, with serious structural and hygiene deficiencies. The mission concluded that the current system could not be considered compliant with the EU requirements, and that there were serious risks to consumer health from histamine and other microbial toxins, in the non-compliant cannery. The FVO required the submission of a corrective action, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

12. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG Health and Consumer Protection announced its programme of visits for 2007. In EFTA countries, inspection missions will take place for fishery products (incl. aquaculture) in Iceland, Norway and Switzerland. Croatia and Turkey (Candidates for EC membership) will also receive inspections in respect of fish/ fishery products and live bivalve molluscs. A programme of twenty nine inspection missions to third countries is set out, in E.Europe, SE Asia, Africa and S.America. An additional 4 missions on fishery products are planned in 2007, with the countries yet to be decided. The United States, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, and Malaysia will receive an inspection in respect of bivalve mollusc controls.

13. The Commission has updated its register of food safety guidelines and codes of practice developed and published by EU Member States. The list includes several generic guides on risk assessment and food hygiene, and specific ones relating to safety of fishery products, with weblinks to their source.


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