FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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June 2007

Common Fisheries Policy

1. ICES publishes damning report on the state and perspectives of European fish stocks
2. European Commission sets out policy for fishing opportunities for 2008.
3. EC establishes a multi-annual recovery plan for plaice and sole that in the North Sea
4. Management conditions set out for 2007 sandeel fishery in the North Sea
5. Recovery plans adopted for European eel and bluefin tuna
6. Monitoring programme for the EC cod recovery plan to be extended
7. Council Agreement on the multi-annual plan for Baltic Cod; no automatic quota cuts
8. EU approves the 2008 carry over for multi-annual fishing quotas
9. Stop fishing notice were published for Spanish, Dutch and Swedish vessels
10. RACs to have improved access to Community financial instruments.
11. New Community tariff quotas for fisheries products.
12. EU-Greenland Fisheries Partnership ratified, including provision for the re-allocation of fish quotas
13. Commission criticizes salmon management organization for not submitting to performance review
14. Commission applauds NEAFC for progress in 2007.
15. North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference focuses on IUU fishing
16. The European marine science community contributes to Green Paper on Maritime Policy

Fish hygiene

17. Thirty six rapid alerts were notified for unsafe fishery products in June 2007
18. DG SANCO publishes 2006 annual report on rapid alerts
19. DG SANCO publishes 2006 annual report on third country inspection missions
20. DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Côte d'Ivoire ;"serious risk to consumer health"
21. New Regulation concerning the introduction of alien fish species
22. Commission will retain safeguard measures on imports of fishery products from Indonesia.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) published a report on the state and perspectives of certain fish stocks, which was welcomed by the Commission. It sets out the state of a number of important commercial European fish stocks, with poor prospects noted for herring, in the Celtic Sea and Northwest of Ireland, and for Baltic cod stocks, herring, whiting and Norway pout in the North Sea. ICES again advised the closure of fishing for cod in the North Sea and in the Kattegat. It has also called for the establishment of fishing possibilities at levels closer to scientific advice and for improved effectiveness of the days-at-sea scheme for fishing vessels to help bring more stocks to sustainable levels.

2. The European Commission adopted its annual policy statement setting out its views on fishing opportunities for 2008. It focuses on a review of the achievement of conservation measures implemented since the 2002 Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. While some long-term plans have begun to show positive results, most stocks remain outside safe biological limits, creating a high-risk situation for both the stocks concerned and the fishing industry. The main reason for this problem is that the total allowable catches (TACs) agreed each year in Council are much higher than those recommended by scientists and most stocks are fished in excess of their TACs. The Commission is therefore calling for more serious efforts in both TACs and fishing effort management in order to put European fisheries back on a truly sustainable footing. The Commission invited stakeholders and Member States to examine the issues raised in this Communication carefully, and to submit their contributions by 31 July 2007.

3. The Council of Ministers passed a new regulation establishing a multi-annual recovery plan for the fisheries exploiting the stocks of plaice and sole that in the North Sea. The regulation sets out the biological management objectives, and a fishing effort management scheme, including a focus on beam trawling, arrangements of weighing of landings in designated ports and prohibition of transshipment.

4. The Commission passed Regulation setting out the specific conditions for the conduct of the fishery for sandeel in the North Sea in 2007, following agreement with Norway on the management arrangements. It sets out licensing and catch reporting conditions and provisions for closure of the fishery at the end of the season.

5. The Council of Ministers decided to adopt recovery plan for the severely depleted European eel and bluefin tuna stocks. A Regulation was passed amending the annual quota for bluefin tuna and its allocation to Member states, following the decision of ICCAT earlier this year to reduce annual TAC.

6. The Commission passed a Decision extending for one year the monitoring programme established to ensure compliance with the effort limitation scheme for the EU cod recovery plan.

7. The European Council reached political agreement on the multi-annual plan for Baltic Cod, thus avoiding the automatic quota cuts laid down by Council last December if the plan were not set up by 30 June 2007.

8. The Council passed a Regulation adjusting national quota fish quotas for 2007, following requests from EC Member States to transfer parts of the quotas to 2008, as part of the multi-annual management of fishing opportunities.

9. Stop fishing notice were published for Spanish vessels fishing for roundnose grenadier and Greenland halibut, and for Dutch and Swedish vessels fishing for cod in the Skagerrak.

10. The EU has amended the regulation concerning the establishment and functioning of the Regional Advisory Councils, in terms of supervision by the European Commission and improved access to Community financial instruments.

11. The European Commission announced a proposal for a modified range of autonomous Community tariff quotas for fisheries products. This proposal, which covers the period 2007-2009, is aimed at facilitating imports from third countries to supply the EU processing industry with raw material in order to maintain its competitiveness. The main changes compared to the 2004-2006 regime include increases of some quotas such as those for cod, shrimps and anchovies, the introduction of new quotas for fillets of cod, sole and hake for example, and deletion of some quotas such as cod liver and whole Alaska Pollack due to their poor utilisation. The EU temporarily suspended community tariffs on imports of hard fish roes (fresh, chilled or frozen).

12. Following the Agreement of Council, the EU-Greenland Fisheries Partnership has been ratified, including a new provision for the re-allocation of fish quotas when they are not used by the Member State to which they are allocated (without prejudice to relative stability), so as to ensure that the best possible value for money is obtained.

13. The European Commission expressed disappointment that the Contracting Parties to NASCO (the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation responsible for the management of wild salmon stocks in the North Atlantic Ocean) has not agreed to undertake a performance review of the organisation involving external experts.

14. The European Commission applauded the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission for undertaking an independent performance review and implementing a number of tough new measures (list of vessels identified as engaging in illegal fishing activities, ban on fishing for orange roughy, interim management measures for the recently-developed fishery for pelagic redfish in the Norwegian Sea, and port state control system).

15. The North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference was held in Greenland; attended by fisheries Ministers or their representatives from Greenland, Canada, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation. The European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs of the European Community was also represented. Discussions, and expressions of intent, focused on IUU (to be regarded as theft) and "grey" fishing. Commissioner Joe Borg announced his satisfaction with the Conference.

16. The European marine science community agreed a contribution to the Commission's Green Paper on Maritime Policy that highlights the importance of research and science to a sound and inclusive European maritime policy. The contribution will highlight a number of projects including Vessel Detection System (VDS) developed by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.

Fish hygiene

17. In June 2007, 36 rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products. These included consignment from Indonesia (cooked shrimps, snapper), Sri Lanka (yellowfin tuna), India (squid and cuttlefish), Vietnam (pangasius, frozen fish fillets) and Malaysia (dried anchovy, salted dried queenfish and mackerel).

18. DG SANCO has published the annual report for 2006 on the rapid alerts system for feed and food (RASFF), operated by the European Commission and Member States. In total 6,594 notifications were made, of which 3,068 were rapid alert notices or additional information in relation to rapid alerts. About 45% of the notices concerned products from third countries. 20% of the notifications issued were in relation to fishery products, and the most common hazards encountered were pathogens (40), biotoxins (26), illegal additives (53), heavy metals (41) and veterinary medicine residues (54). One warning letter was issued in relation to fishery products (to the Competent Authority in Vietnam, in respect of carbon monoxide treatment of tuna).

19. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published its annual report for 2006. Out of 255 inspection missions conducted, 159 were in the EU and 94 in third countries. Of these 32 were in relation to fishery products, aquaculture and live molluscs. The FVO undertook inspection missions in 14 ACP countries, a significant increase compared to 2005, when only four inspection missions were undertaken to ACP countries. None of the countries inspected complied with all relevant conditions for exporting fishery products to the EU, and in the case of several countries deficiencies were so severe that they resulted in trade restrictions, requiring that safeguard checks were made on all consignments at the expense of importers. Exporters of aquaculture products were strongly criticized for the weakness of the residue monitoring systems for veterinary medicines and other substances. Some other common problems encountered were poor hygiene conditions on board fishing vessels and at landing sites, and inadequate laboratory conditions.

20. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Côte d'Ivoire regarding the health conditions for the export of fishery products to the EU, which took place in August 2006. The mission found that since the last inspection mission in 2004, the Competent Authority had made a number of improvements in the control procedures and in the organisation structure. New procedures for inspection and approval have been introduced. However approved lists still included establishments which had not received formal approval. It was found that the Competent Authority did not always respect deadlines for renewal of approvals and that the frequency of the inspections and follow-up steps were not sufficient. Only five establishments were considered by the FVO to meet the requirements. No inspection reports were filed regarding inspection of vessels and the landing sites, and hygiene conditions in those visited by the mission were found to be non-compliant. Defects were also encountered in legislation on drinking water which used inappropriate criteria. The current legislation did not allow the Competent Authority to conduct sampling in establishments for control purposes. The testing laboratory facilities were otherwise found to be adequate for the purposes of testing for official control. Sampling and analysis for histamine levels in tuna (an important export) were not always carried out in compliance with Community legislation, although heavy metal testing has recently been extended. Particular concern was expressed regarding the lack of control on conditions which could give rise to histamine production in tuna products. As the method of sampling and testing used did not comply with the EC requirements, the mission team considered that the conditions found could give rise to a serious risk to consumer health. In conclusion, the mission found that there was still a need for additional administrative and technical measures to ensure compliance with the EC requirements. DG SANCO has since required that the Competent Authority submit an action plan to address this, and the other, issues identified and this has been accepted.

21. The EU Council has passed a new Regulation concerning the introduction of alien species and the translocation of locally absent species of fish for aquaculture. The regulation requires Member States to appoint a Competent Authority with a scientific advisory body, and to implement measures to avoid adverse effects to biodiversity, and especially to species, habitats and ecosystem functions which may be expected to arise from the introduction or translocation of aquatic organisms. In future such introductions must be subject to a permit. Member States are required to develop contingency plans and specify quarantine arrangements.

22. At the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health, the Netherlands inquired on the state of play of the safeguard measures on imports of fishery products from Indonesia. The Commission indicated that these will be retained for the time being until the implementation of the action plan has been verified. The Netherlands raised the issue of the use of a new certificate for fishery products from Canada. The Commission intends to issue an explanatory note.

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