FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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July 2007

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Serious infringements to the rules of the CFP increase by 8% in 2005.
2. Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) targets North Sea fishery controls
3. EU Council fish transport subsidies renewed for Outermost Regions
4. New EC autonomous tariff quotas set for many fishery products
5. Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery to remain closed in 2007.
6. Commission disappointed with Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission
7. EU relaxes rules on fleet capacity increases
8. State aids in fisheries ceiling lifted to EUR30,000
9. Commission discusses selectivity and technical measures with net makers
10. The Council defines drift nets for the first time
11. Portuguese and UK allowed to increase days at sea
12. Stop fishing notices were published for vessels from several EC countries
13. Commission decides that Romania and Bulgaria need not set fleet reference level
14. Fisheries Partnership Agreement between EC and Greenland comes into force
15. Commissioner Borg announces next steps for EC's new Maritime Policy

Fish hygiene

16. Thirty nine rapid alerts for fishery products were notified during July 2007
17. FVO plans 21 inspection missions for fishery products during remainder of 2007
18. FVO reports on inspection mission to Costa Rica; conditions not equivalent
19. FVO reports on inspection mission to Indonesia; controls still defective, action plan to be updated
20. FVO reports on inspection mission to Pakistan; EU health risks likely
21. FVO reports on inspection mission to Honduras; some defects, guarantees sought
22. Implementation of sanitary rules for fish oil from third countries delayed until 2008
23. Commission confirms that fish liver exempt from contaminant regulation

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission published its annual Communication on serious infringements to the rules of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2005. There was an increase in the number of infringements detected, from 9,660 in 2004 to 10,443 in 2005 (8.1%), and a reduction in the average fine imposed from €2,272 in 2004 to €1,548 in 2005. The Commission expressed concern that the information provided by the Member States is still insufficient to provide full transparency of the way CFP rules are enforced. It is also concerned that both detection rates and the level of sanctions applied remain far too low to provide an effective deterrent to those prepared to break the rules.

2. The Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) has adopted an operational plan for joint multi-national fishery controls in the North Sea and adjacent areas, with the objective to combat over-fishing and save endangered cod stocks. The joint deployment plan for the North Sea will pool resources (inspectors, control vessels, aircraft, etc), from seven coastal Member States and use them to ensure more effective and uniform control of fishing activities. CFCA announced that similar plans will be put in place in the other EU fishing areas.

3. The EU Council has passed a regulation renewing the scheme for transport subsidies to compensate for the additional costs in the distribution of fishery products from the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, French Guiana, and Réunion. The scheme provides EUR15.0 million per year and Member States are to determine the species and levels of subsidy to be applied (up to 100% of the transport cost to the continental EU).

4. The EU has set a new round of autonomous tariff quotas and quota duty rates (available to all third country suppliers to the EC market) for imported fishery products from 2007 to 2009. Includes cod, blue grenadier, hake, blue whiting, anchovies, herring, tuna loin, shrimp, rock lobster, squid, surimi and sole.

5. The Commission announced that after consideration of the scientific evidence from the STECF, and although the stock condition has improved, the Bay of Biscay anchovy fishery would remain closed in 2007. STECF has recommended closure until July 2008.

6. The Commission expressed its disappointment at the lack of progress at the annual meeting of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), which was held in Cancun, Mexico last month. IATTC failed to agree on a new multi-annual management plan for tuna stocks. Measures to reduce the by-catch of seabirds and new procedures for blacklisting vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities (IUU), were also blocked, as was a proposal to undertake an independent performance review of the organisation.

7. The EU has modified the rules regarding the replacement of fishing fleet capacity to allow an increase in registered tonnage by up to 4% in replacement vessels where this is justifiable to improve safety and quality (providing that there is no change in the catching capacity). The terms of the entry/exit scheme are also amended, such that replacement of capacity with public aid is compensated by the previous withdrawal of 1.35 times the capacity (if >100GT).

8. The European Commission adopted a Regulation increasing the ceiling of the so-called 'de minimis' amount of state aid which may be provided to the fisheries sector. De minimis aid is aid deemed not to distort competition. Under the new Regulation, the ceiling will be set at EUR 30,000 per three-year period (up from EUR3,000), per beneficiary, subject to certain conditions.

9. The Commission consulted with EC net makers concerning selectivity in demersal fisheries and the possibility of finalising the much delayed new technical measures regulation, with a view to reducing unwanted catches so as to allow an effective prohibition of discarding in future.

10. The EU Council passed an amendment to the rules regarding drift nets used in Community fisheries, which for the first time, introduces a definition of drift net.

11. The Commission decided to allow an increase in the permitted days at sea in certain ICES areas for individual Portuguese and UK vessels as a result of the withdrawal of some of the fleet since 2004.

12. Stop fishing notices were published for Swedish vessels fishing for common sole, UK vessels fishing for herring, Polish vessels fishing for cod, Spanish vessels fishing for mackerel, French vessels fishing for forkbeard, German vessels fishing for cod and all EC vessels fishing for sprat.

13. The Commission published a derogation for Romania and Bulgaria, lifting the requirement for setting a fleet reference level for fleet structural adjustment, since it would overlap with the obligations regarding the operation of the entry/exit scheme.

14. Following the exchange of ratification notifications, the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Community and the Home Rule Government of Greenland came into force on the 2 July 2007.

15. In two speeches in June, Commissioner Borg marked the closure of the consultation phase on the EC's new Maritime Policy and announced that the policy package to be adopted by the Commission in October will have two major components: i) a report that synthesises and analyses all the various needs and demands expressed by stakeholders and ii) the Commission's view of what an EU Maritime Policy should be, supplemented by an action plan. Dr.Borg also discussed its role in the EC energy policy, with the oceans being both a source of renewable energies and a possible medium for carbon capture and storage.

Fish hygiene

16. During the month of July 2007, 39 rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products. These included consignments from Denmark (fishmeal and smoked salmon), Spain (red tuna, swordfish - four consignments), Netherlands (eel), Italy (Nephrops, bonito salmon, and tuna) and Greece (seabass).

17. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published the programme of inspection missions for the second half of 2007. Of 126 missions, 88 will be concerned with food hygiene. Twenty one fishery product missions will be undertaken in Norway, Switzerland, Croatia, Turkey, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Mexico, Nigeria, Solomon Islands, Viet Nam, Ecuador, Fiji, Gabon, Guatemala, Netherlands Antilles, Uruguay, Mozambique, Belize, Angola, and Panama. A mission to Malaysia will include a review of live bivalve mollusc controls.

18. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Costa Rica regarding the health conditions for the export of fishery products to the EU, which took place in January 2007. The mission found discrepancies in the lists of approved establishments, and lack of consistencies in the legislative requirements when compared to EC regulations. Inspectors had limited technical knowledge, and follow up and application of sanctions for non-compliance was weak. Despite the provision of guarantees following an earlier mission, a residue monitoring programme for aquaculture products had not been implemented. There were non-conformities found in labeling and certification and there was a lack of official control in relation to heavy metals. Overall the mission concluded that the conditions could not be regarded as equivalent, and DG SANCO was recommended to demand an action plan of corrective actions.

19. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Indonesia regarding the health conditions for the export of fishery products to the EU, which took place in January 2007, and following up previous inspection missions with negative findings undertaken in April 2004 and September 2005 which resulted in a freeze on approval of new establishments and EC safeguard measures, including sampling and testing of consignments. The mission found that the legislation had been partially strengthened, training of inspectors had been carried out on EC requirements, and use of new checklists. However there was still a considerable variation in implementation between provinces. Hygiene conditions and HACCP plans in several establishments and on fishing vessels were found to be deficient. Two out of 12 establishments visited were non-compliant. Official controls systems with regard to histamine had been upgraded and were considered to be fully compliant, although some defects were noted in laboratory procedures, and laboratories were still not accredited for all methods. The mission recommended additional controls to be applied to fishing and freezer vessels. The Competent Authority was requested to provide an updated action plan to address the noted deficiencies.

20. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Pakistan regarding the health conditions for the export of fishery products to the EU, which took place in January 2007, and followed up a previous mission in 2005 which resulted in the suspension of exports (subsequently resumed in August 2005, following the submission of guarantees by the Competent Authority). The mission found that legislation had been upgraded satisfactorily. However controls of fishing vessels remained inadequate, and supplies of fish for export were obtained from non-approved landing sites. Unfit fishery products were sold to EC approved establishments. Follow up of inspection findings was poor, tolerating continual non-compliances and numerous defects were found in the 10 approved establishments which had not been detected by the Competent Authority. Only 2 of these met EC requirements and there were severe deficiencies in HACCP. Although microbiological testing was close to accreditation standard, chemical testing for histamine used a non-validated method and was not subject to proficiency testing. The mission concluded that written guarantees had been only partially implemented, and considered that health risks for EU consumers "likely to occur". The Competent Authority was requested to provide an updated action plan to address the noted deficiencies.

21. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Honduras regarding the health conditions for the export of fishery products to the EU, which took place in November 2006. The mission found that Honduran legislation did not require approval of establishments for export, the residue monitoring for aquaculture products omitted some important veterinary compounds, and there were poor controls over the security of health certificates. Water quality standards were not compliant with EC requirements. Some shortcomings were noted in establishments, including lack of temperature recording devices. However HACCP plans were properly designed and implemented. Overall, although there were defects in the controls, the risk to human health was mitigated by the limited range and quantity of exports to the EC (mainly frozen shrimp from aquaculture). Guarantees were sought that the deficiencies would be addressed.

22. The Commission informed Member States that many third countries will have difficulty in meeting the sanitary rules regarding the import of fish oil for human consumption, and has suggested a delayed implementation date of 31 October 2008.

23. The Commission has called for a "uniform approach" by Member States on enforcement of levels of contaminants of dioxins and dioxin like PCBs in fresh and processed fish liver, confirming that this product is specifically excluded from the compositional requirements set out in the Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006.

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