FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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February 2007

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EC Joint Research Centre reports on climate change and marine resource impacts
2. UK and Ireland lose future herring and mackerel quotas due to overfishing.
3. Commission launches debate on rights based management tools in fisheries.
4. EU Commission publishes Communication on measures of fishing capacity and effort.
5. Electronic logbooks mandatory in EC vessels by end of 2009
6. New fisheries management regime finalized for Mediterranean
7. EU modifies bluefin tuna quotas following ICCAT management decisions
8. The EU published the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EC and Greenland.
9. New rules published for financial support to fishery producer organizations.
10. UK and Dutch beam trawlers get extra days at sea
11. Commission amends regulations regarding operation of fish pumping systems
12. Commissioner Borg gave a speech on maritime spatial planning.

Fish hygiene

13. Thirty nine rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products.
14. EU suspends fish imports from Guinea until further notice.
15. DG SANCO reports on a mission to Brazil; serious deficiencies.
16. DG SANCO reports on a mission to Uganda; some shortcomings, otherwise acceptable
17. DG SANCO updates web information on residue controls
18. EFSA updates advice regarding feeding ruminants with fishmeal
19. Commission amends zones regarding mollusc diseases
20. Commission discusses certification requirements for ornamental fish

Common Fisheries Policy

1. European Commission's Joint Research Centre presented a report "Marine and Coastal Dimension of Climate Change in Europe: A report to the European Water Directors", detailing the effects climate change has on Europe's coastal waters and regional seas. Policies designed to mitigate climate change impacts will have to address human exploitation of the seas and coasts, to ensure sustainable management of marine resources.

2. Following overfishing of herring and mackerel quotas by the UK and Ireland during the period 2001 to 2005 the Commission has imposed reduced quotas for the period 2007 to 2012, corresponding to about 161,000 tonnes of mackerel and herring in the in the case of UK and 33,500 tonnes of mackerel in the case of Ireland.

3. The Commission launched a Communication on rights-based management tools in fisheries, with the objective of improving the understanding of how fishing rights such as licences, individual fishing quotas, days at sea and/or limited access to fishing grounds are set up and used within the EU, and to discuss best practices and their contribution to meeting the aims of the Common Fisheries Policy.

4. The Commission has published a Communication on improving fishing capacity and effort indicators for the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Whilst the Gross Tonnage system for assessing overall fleet capacity is satisfactory, the approach to certifying engine power is considered to be flawed. Alternatives indicators such as the type, or size of fishing gear will be studied in the coming months.

5. The Council published the final version of the Regulation requiring daily electronic recording and reporting of fishing activities. Requires masters of fishing vessels > 24 m length overall to record and transmit to the competent authority of the Flag State, by electronic means logbook information relating to fishing activities, effective from 21 December 2009. The regulation will apply to vessels between 15 and 24 m from June 2011.

6. The Council published the final version of the Regulation setting a new regime for fisheries management and technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean. The Regulation replaces Council Regulation (EC) No 1626/94 of 27 June 1994 and implements 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.

7. Following the Decision of ICCAT at the meeting in Tokyo last month, regarding the allocation of the TAC for Eastern bluefin tuna, the Commission announced that it will revise the quota and conditions included in the 2007 TACs and quotas regulation, in line with the 15-year recovery plan adopted by ICCAT last November. New EU quotas are established (including Cyprus and Malta). New measures include a joint international inspection scheme which, for the very first time, will allow for inspections by one contracting party of any contracting party's vessel on the high seas.

8. The EU has published the text of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol concluded between the EC and the Government of Denmark, and the Home Rule Government of Greenland. The Agreement will run for 6 years from 1 January 2007. Fishing opportunities are defined for snowcrab, cod, Greenland halibut, redfish and shrimp, in return for financial compensation of EUR 85.8 million, plus an additional amount of EUR 9.2 million in reserve for additional cod and capelin fishing opportunities should they become available.

9. The Commission published a revised and consolidated Regulation setting out the detailed rules for financial support to fishery producer organizations. It defines methods for calculating the value of the production marketed by producer organisations and the administrative expenses of such organisations to ensure these are applied on a common basis. An alternative flat-rate method of calculating expenses is also defined.

10. The Commission passed a Decision awarding 3 extra days at sea to UK and Dutch trawl vessels operating under the effort limitation regime for cod sloe and place in the North Sea.

11. The Commission passed a Regulation amending the conditions for use of pump aboard systems, allowing the attachment of a line to the codend under certain conditions, as a means of improving the safety of onboard procedures.

12. In a conference speech, Commissioner Borg, shared his thoughts on the importance of maritime spatial planning.

Fish hygiene

13. During February 2007, there were 39 rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products. These included products from Greece (Venus verrucosa), Australia (tiger prawns), Spain(unauthorised establishment for live bivalve molluscs), Germany (smoked salmon) and Denmark (swordfish).

14. Following a recent inspection by Commission services in the Republic of Guinea which revealed serious food safety shortcomings in the production chain of fishery products, presenting a serious risk to consumer health, and the lack of proper sanitary controls by the Competent Authorities, the Commission has decided to suspend imports of all fishery products from 2nd February 2007 until further notice.

15. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on its mission to Brazil in June 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that there were important gaps in the legislation regarding aquaculture controls and other food safety requirements for fishery products; audits of factories were infrequent and freezer vessels were not checked. Landing conditions were not recorded; deadlines for correction of defects are not always set, and follow up was deficient; water testing did not meet requirements; none of the testing laboratories were accredited; bivalve molluscs had been certified for export, even though not authorized; a factory vessel had no HACCP system; eight of 14 establishments visited were non-compliant and the competent authority continued to issue certificates in respect of a factory vessel which persistently gave rise to rapid alerts. The mission concluded that the current system had serious deficiencies and presented potential risk to human health. The mission recommended the submission of a corrective action plan, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

16. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Uganda in August 2006, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that there were some areas of Uganda legislation which did not express EU requirements; there was no evidence of hygiene checks on fishing vessels; although subject to approval, transport vessels and vehicles, had no inspection records; evident shortcomings were not always identified, nor followed up if they were; HACCP plans had been approved without correction of identified shortcomings; analyses were paid for by the business operators; fish inspectors were blamed by the Competent Authority for misunderstanding sampling instructions; a private accredited laboratory was found to have ants in the area used for microbiological media preparation; conditions at landing sites did not meet relevant community standards; The mission concluded that despite the shortcomings of the current system the conditions can be considered acceptable ; deficiencies were found in respect of inspection of fishing vessels; weaknesses in inspection of SOPs and follow up, and in terms of some analyses for organic contaminants. The mission recommended the submission of a corrective action plan, subsequently accepted by the Commission

17. DG SANCO has updated its website with more detailed information regarding the provision of guarantees on residue controls for animal products of farmed origin, including products of aquaculture. It explains the need for procedures for the evaluation and approval of residue monitoring plans from third countries.

18. EFSA updated its advice regarding the health risks posed by feeding ruminants with fishmeal in relation to the risk of TSE (transmissible spongiform encephalopathy) and potential negative consequences for public health. Whilst this is considered to be limited risk, fish protein masks presence of material of mammalian origin, making monitoring of existing TSE controls very difficult.

19. The Commission published a Decision amending the zones regarded as free of certain parasitic diseases of bivalve molluscs.

20. The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health discussed a draft Commission Decision laying down the animal health conditions and certification requirements for imports of fish for ornamental purpose, and amending Decision 2003/858/EC.

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