FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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September 2007

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Baltic Sea TACs proposed for 2008; cod reduced by 23% (eastern stock) and 33% (western)
2. Council introduces multi-annual recovery plan for this Baltic cod; includes days at sea limits
3. EC requirements for Antarctic fishing tightened in line with the CCAMLR
4. EC requires Member States to develop eel management plans by the end of 2008
5. European Commission closes the fishery for bluefin tuna; infringement procedures commenced against seven Member States.
6. Stop fishing notices were published for blue ling, forkbeard, cod, tusk, ling, redfish and haddock.
7. Commission allocated EUR29.5 million to support Member State fisheries information systems
8. Commissioner Borg indicates possibility of financial support for the industry while stocks rebuild to meet MSY targets
9. Commissioner Borg emphasizes importance of outermost regions of the EC to EC maritime strategy

Fish hygiene

10. Twenty three rapid alerts for fishery products notified to Commission during September 2007.
11. DG SANCO reports on a mission to Armenia; some improvements in establishments, laboratories seriously deficient
12. DG SANCO reports on a mission to Jamaica; HACCP systems improved; some minor defects in establishments and laboratory testing
13. EFSA will host a public Food Safety Summit in Brussels on 22 November 2007; stakeholders are invited

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission has proposed the 2008 fishing opportunities for the Baltic Sea. ICES advice and the Commission's own Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF) indicate that the condition of the two Baltic cod stocks continue to give serious cause for concern; the Western stock is considered to be outside safe biological limits; the survival rate of young salmon is deteriorating, the central Baltic herring stock remains in good condition. Proposed TACs include a reduction of 23% in the EU quota for eastern Baltic cod, from 40,805 tonnes to 31,561 tonnes, and of 33% in the TAC on western Baltic cod, from 26,696 tonnes to 17,930 tonnes.

2. Following ICES advice regarding the condition of the Baltic Sea cod stocks (harvested unsustainably and reduced biological capacity), the European Council has also introduced a multi-annual recovery plan for this species. The plan applies to vessel >8 metres and requires a special cod permit, sets a harvest control rule for the cod stocks, allows for limits to be set on the number of days at sea, landing at designated ports and for all vessels establishes closed seasons and closed areas for use of certain gears. Strengthened logbook and monitoring procedures are also introduced.

3. Following changes to the management measures applied by the CCAMLR (Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources), the EC has responded by modifying information requirements for licensing of fishing vessels, introducing a notification requirement for intention to develop krill fisheries, new requirements for exploratory fisheries, toothfish tagging requirements for vessels participating in exploratory fishing, and catch and effort data transmission requirements to CCAMLR (now monthly).

4. Following adoption of the Community action plan for the conservation of eel stocks, the Council has passed a regulation which requires 60% of catches of eel that measure less than 12cm long to be retained for restocking; Member States with eel resources are required to develop eel management plans for their river basins, to indicate limits on commercial activity, habitat conservation, restocking measures, structures to facilitate migration and aquaculture measures. Plans have to be submitted to the Commission by the end of 2008. Full traceability on eel catches shall be implemented before end of July 2009. 5. The European Commission closed the fishery for bluefin tuna in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean for the remainder of 2007, due to the exhaustion of the annual quota of 16,779.5 tonnes. The closure affects Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Portugal and Spain (Italy and France, closed their fisheries in July and August respectively) and follows the introduction of reduced quotas by ICCAT in January 2007. The Commission also noted failings in the reporting of real time catch data and intends to introduced tighter controls for 2008, and countries which had not fished in excess of their 2007 quota at the time of closure will be compensated in 2008 quotas. The European Commission opened infringement procedures against the seven Member States concerned for exceeding their annual quotas and/or failing to send catch data to the Commission.

6. In addition to the bluefin tuna measures, stop fishing notice were published for Spanish vessels fishing for blue ling and forkbeards; French vessels fishing for cod; United Kingdom vessels fishing for tusk; German vessels fishing for ling and haddock. All Member States vessels except Spain were prohibited from fishing for redfish in NAFO zone 3M effective from 21 September 2007.

7. The Commission has set out the limits of expenditure on Member State fisheries information systems eligible for Community support in 2008. For the minimum programme, eligible expenditure for all Member States is EUR59.1 million, of which the Community support will total up to EUR29.5 million. These amounts may be increased slightly for the extended information programme.

8. The Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs released a statement indicating that the Commission is considering ways to respond to the technical, economic and social issues raised by the application of the Maximum Sustainable Yield approach to fisheries management. He indicated that these could include financial support for the industry while stocks rebuild, and improved consultation, especially on mixed fisheries.

9. In a speech in la Réunion, Commissioner Borg emphasized the importance of fisheries in the economies of the outermost regions of the EC, and the importance of the regions to the EC, since they contribute large Exclusive Economic Zones, rich marine biodiversity and ecosystems, strong potential in marine research and a geo-strategic locations in three important maritime areas of the world, themes which are expressed within the proposed new Community Maritime Policy.

Fish hygiene

10. During the month of September, the Commission was notified of rapid alerts for failure to comply with health conditions in respect of 23 consignments of fishery products, including short fin mako shark from Uraguay, red salmon caviar from Lithuania, frozen pikeperch from Kazakhstan, fresh codfish fillets and lumpfish roe from Sweden and swordfish and frozen shrimp from China.

11. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Armenia regarding the health conditions for the export of fishery products to the EU, which took place in March 2007. The mission found that many recommendations from the previous FVO mission in 2003 had been implemented. Although storage conditions for live crayfish and HACCP systems in some establishments had not been improved, only minor deficiencies were noted in the one establishment exporting cooked crayfish. However severe deficiencies remained in the testing laboratories nominated by the Competent Authority. Despite being accredited by the Armenian National Council for Accreditation, the Ministry of Health laboratory did not have a quality manual or a quality team and did not participate in proficiency testing. The Competent Authority was considered to be not capable of delivering the necessary guarantees.

12. The Food and Veterinary office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Jamaica regarding the health conditions for the export of fishery products to the EU, which took place in April 2007. The mission found that although recommendations regarding HACCP in establishments from a previous mission in 2006 had been implemented, there were still deficiencies in the structures and maintenance. The mission also expressed concern regarding the continuing lack of validation of laboratory test methods for marine biotoxins. The mission considered that once the noted deficiencies were addressed the Competent Authority would be able to provide the necessary guarantees of compliance with the relevant EC regulations.

13. The European Food safety Authority announced that it will host a public Food Safety Summit in Brussels on 22 November 2007 to mark its 5 year anniversary. Key decision-makers from the EU Institutions, Member States, international organisations and stakeholders are invited to debate the future of food safety in Europe.

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