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FISHERIES POLICY AND FISH HYGIENE
TECHNICAL INFORMATION IN FOOD & FISHERIES POLICY & DEVELOPMENT
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November 2007

Common Fisheries Policy


1. Commission published its TAC proposals for 2008; 11% increase in TAC for North Sea cod
2. EU Total allowable catches to be applied to the Black Sea for the first time in 2008
3. Council of Ministers agree 2008 fishing opportunities (TACs and quotas) for the Baltic Sea
4. Following EC enlargement in 2007, new tariff quotas agreed with Norway and Iceland for shrimp and Nephrops
5. Commission announces 2008 guide prices for the Community market interventions for fishery products.
6. Commission extends the Falkland Islands derogation on rules of origin for fishery product exports to the EC
7. European Commission and Norway agreed on TACs for jointly managed fish stocks in the North Sea.
8. Commission announced agreements with Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway regarding 2008 fishing opportunities on shared stocks.
9. European Commission allocates additional days at sea to the German fleet
10. Council of Fisheries Ministers adopts recovery plan for Bluefin tuna.
11. European Commission welcomes ICCAT decision to keep the recovery plan for eastern bluefin tuna.
12. Council extended the CFP data regulation to cover 2007 and 2008, pending a new replacement in 2009
13. Stop fishing notices were published for many EC fleet segments.
14. Commission approves Operational Programme (grants of EUR39.5 million) for the Finnish Fisheries Industry for the period 2007-2013.
15. European Commission hosts conference on future strategy for European Aquaculture
16. Commission increases tariff quotas allocated for fish feeds imported from the Faroe Islands.
17. Commissioner Joe Borg undertook a 6 day visit to China
18. Commissioner Borg gives more details of the proposed annual European Maritime Day
19. European Commission expresses deep concerned regarding Japan's whaling plans
20. Committee of the Regions debates the EU maritime policy.

Fish hygiene


21. Thirty four rapid alerts notified for consignment of fishery products ion November 2007.
22. The FVO of DG SANCO reports on a mission to Belize; non-compliances but no risk to the EU consumers
23. The FVO of DG SANCO reports on a mission to Brazil; weak controls over primary production
24. The FVO of DG SANCO reports on a mission to Falkland Islands; finds wide range of non-compliances
25. The FVO of DG SANCO reports on a re-inspection mission to Madagascar; many improvements but still not fully compliant
26. The FVO of DG SANCO reports on a mission to Togo; too early to assess the effectiveness of the official controls.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Commission published its annual proposal on fishing possibilities and attendant measures for 2008, for consideration of the Council of Fisheries Ministers when they meet on 17-19 December. The proposal takes account of scientific advice on the state of fish stocks received in October from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Commission's own Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF), and input from stakeholders. The proposal will introduce further cuts in effort and/or Total Allowable Catches (TACs) in a number of fisheries, while generally respecting the rule that inter-annual variations should be limited to 15% increase or decrease, so as to provide a degree of stability for stakeholders. For cod, the Commission has agreed with Norway an 11% increase in TAC for North Sea stocks, but a cut in other EC cod fishing possibilities by 25%. For southern hake an increase of 15% is proposed. For North Sea herring a 41% cut is proposed, and for blue whiting a 32% cut is proposed.

2. The Commission has announced that in 2008, for the first time the EC will apply fisheries management measures to the Black Sea due to the accession to the Community in 2007 of Romania and Bulgaria. The Commission proposes a TAC of 90 tonnes for turbot, and 15,000 tonnes for sprat. The TAC for sprat is unallocated (between Romania and Bulgaria), while the TAC for turbot would be divided equally between the two countries. The proposal also sets out minimum mesh size of 180 mm (increasing to 200 mm) and a minimum landing size of 45 cm for the turbot fishery.

3. The Council of Ministers agreed to the 2008 Fishing opportunities for the Baltic Sea and their allocations between Member States.

4. Following the enlargement of the EC with the accession of Bulgaria and Romania, the Commission has passed a regulation amending the tariff quotas for certain fishery products imported from Iceland and Norway, under the terms of the EEA Treaty and the EC-Norway and EC-Iceland Free Trade Agreements. The amendment will provide for new annual duty free tariff quotas and for changes to existing annual duty free tariff quotas for certain fish and fishery products originating in Iceland and Norway. The measure will remove tariff quotas for frozen shrimp from Norway and extend tariff quotas for Nephrops from Iceland.

5. The Commission announced the new price basis for the Community market interventions for fishery products. Guide prices for whitefish and tuna species have increased, but those for small pelagic fishes and several species of frozen fish have fallen, in line with market conditions.

6. The Commission granted an extension of the derogation to the Falkland Islands from complying with the requirement for tariff free entry of fishery products to the EC, that they be originating products. This is based on the difficulty in obtaining crew with necessary skills from ACP and OCT countries. The derogation is granted in respect of annual quantities of 12,500 tonnes frozen fish, 5,100 tonnes of fish fillets, 34,600 tonnes for Loligo squid and 31,000 tonnes for Illex squid, up to November 2012.

7. The European Commission and Norway agreed on the fishing possibilities for 2008 for the seven jointly managed fish stocks in the North Sea. For those stocks which are in poor condition (herring, whiting), substantial cuts in Total Allowable Catches (TACs) were made. In the case of North Sea cod, however, the recent improvement in the stock allowed an agreement on an 11% increase in TAC, accompanied by a commitment by the EU to limit discards to 10%. Joint multi-annual management plans for cod, haddock, saithe and herring were confirmed and the plans for saithe and herring will be revised in 2008. The parties will seek to agree a joint long-term management plan for plaice in 2008. Norway and the EU also agreed on a series of exchanges of fishing possibilities in the North Sea and North-East Atlantic, giving extended opportunities to both Parties to fish in a sustainable manner on species of common interest.

8. The Commission announced that agreements were concluded with North Atlantic coastal states concerned regarding 2008 fishing opportunities on shared stocks of blue whiting, herring and mackerel. The agreements provide a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 1,250,000 tonnes for blue whiting (a reduction of 32% from 2007), 1,266,000 tonnes for Atlanto-Scandian herring (virtually unchanged), and 456,000 tonnes for mackerel (a reduction of 9%). The TACs are allocated between the parties according to agreed allocation keys. The TACs agreed by the coastal states also formed the basis for recommendations for the regulation of these same fisheries in international waters under the Northeast Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC).

9. The European Commission decided to allocating additional fishing effort, in the form of 3 additional days at sea to the German fleet, when trawl fishing in the Kattegat, Skagerrak, and ICES zones IV and VIId and EC waters of ICES zone IIa, ICES zone VIIa and Via, due to their participation in an enhanced observers scheme.

10. The Council of Fisheries Ministers meeting in Brussels adopted into EU law the recovery plan for Bluefin tuna. The decision implements the ICCAT recommendations made in November 2006 in Dubrovnik, Croatia, and also requires Member States to submit annual fishing plans in advance of the fishing season in order to ensure that the allocated fishing effort is compatible with the quota limits. The Commission welcomed the Decision of the Council of Ministers.

11. The European Commission welcomed the decision at the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to continue with the implementation in 2008 of the fifteen-year recovery plan for eastern bluefin tuna which was adopted in 2006. However the plan will be reviewed when new scientific advice is available at the end of 2008. A new catch document will be introduced to ensure traceability. At its meeting, ICCAT also adopted a reduction in the Total Allowable for northern albacore tuna to 30 200 tonnes for 2008 and 2009, a one-month closed season for Mediterranean swordfish, and measures to mitigate bird by-catch in longline fisheries in the southern Atlantic.

12. The Council passed a regulation extending the period of application of the Community framework for collection and transmission of data on the Common Fisheries Policy (the CFP data regulation), to cover 2007 and 2008, pending a new planned regulation to apply in 2009, which will address information needs for a fisheries management approach which will take into account the transition from fish stock-based management to a fleet and area-based management as well as the ecosystem approach.

13. Stop fishing notices were published for Spanish vessels fishing for Greenland halibut, haddock and red seabream; Polish, French, Dutch, Swedish and German vessels fishing for cod; French vessels fishing for herring and tusk; German vessels fishing for Norway lobster; Portuguese vessels fishing for anglerfish; Belgian vessels fishing for plaice and French vessels fishing for redfish. The fishery for forked seabream was re-opened for Spanish vessels with effect from 30 October 2007, and that for cod in Skagerrak reopened for Swedish vessels, effective 2 November 2007 (but was stopped on 7 November 2007).

14. The Commission announced that it had approved the Operational Programme for the Finnish Fisheries Industry for the period 2007-2013. The total eligible public expenditure of the programme amounts to € 91,848,827 , with EU assistance through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) amounting to € 39,448,827. The programme will help the entry of young fishers into the sector, improve the safety of fishing vessels, the quality of fish, hygiene conditions and the selectivity of fishing gear, and protect fishing gear from the damage caused by wild predators.

15. The European Commission hosted a conference in Brussels on "European Aquaculture and its Opportunities for Development" with the objective of launching a debate on policies for the sustainable development of European aquaculture, and the role that public authorities can and should play. The conference was attended by 200 delegates, including professionals from a number of sectors, representatives of national and regional authorities, scientists, NGOs and other stakeholders.

16. The Commission passed a regulation increasing the tariff quotas allocated for fish feeds imported from the Faroe Islands.

17. Commissioner Joe Borg undertook a 6 day visit to China, where he discussed fisheries and maritime cooperation between the European Union and China, presented the EU's new Maritime Policy to Chinese ministers in Beijing and discussed measures to eliminate illegal fishing and to protect ecosystems from destructive fishing practices. He also delivered speeches at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao and Shanghai Fishery University.

18. Commissioner Borg gave a speech at an international conference on the implications of the state of the oceans for women and youth, at which he announced that the proposed annual European Maritime Day will bring together high-profile events, award ceremonies, and awareness campaigns on maritime careers and on Europe's maritime heritage. In addition, the Commission will produce a European Atlas of the Seas so that young people can get to know more about the maritime world.

19. The European Commission expressed deep concerned regarding Japan's plans to kill up to 1000 minke, fin and humpback whales in a South Pacific whale hunt that will run until mid-April 2008. The Commission emphasised that adequate data for management purposes can be obtained using non-lethal techniques.

20. The Committee of the Regions, a political EU-wide assembly of local and regional authorities heard a speech by Commissioner Borg, and debated the EU maritime policy.


Fish hygiene

21. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 34 consignments of fishery products, including cooked prawns and IQF shrimp tails from India, smoked salmon from Bulgaria, frozen blue whiting from China, canned mackerel from Thailand, and canned sardines and fishmeal from Morocco.

22. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Belize in July 2007, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery and aquaculture products to the EU market. The mission found that there were some discrepancies between Belizean legislation and Community rules, and there were no procedures for inspection of aquaculture facilities, not any written sampling plan for monitoring of aquaculture products. Shortcomings were observed in HACCP plans, and hygiene conditions in some establishments were found to be non-compliant, including mouldy boxes used for handling shrimp. There were no official checks on levels of sodium metabisulphite, despite its extensive use. Testing laboratories were not accredited. Appropriate microbiological checks were not conducted on river water used by one fish processing establishment. Some shortcomings in certificate security were also observed. The mission did not consider that the non-compliances presented a risk to the EU consumer and accepted a plan of corrective actions. The mission also discussed the issue of inspection of Belizean flagged vessels, which neither dock nor land in Belize,

23. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Brazil in May 2007, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission was a follow up to one conducted in 2006 which found numerous and serious deficiencies in food safety conditions, resulting in the imposition of safeguard measures. The mission found that legislation had been updated satisfactorily; improved controls were implemented by the CA, but some staff had still not been adequately trained. Fishery products from non-approved establishments in other third countries were still admitted for processing; controls over primary production were limited, especially aquaculture establishments and freezer vessels supplying shore based processing establishments. There was also a lack of official analyses for fishery products for several important environmental contaminants. The mission concluded that despite significant improvements, the CA was not yet in a position to certify the conditions prescribed in the export certificate. An action plan was submitted to address the outstanding deficiencies.

24. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Falkland Islands in February 2007, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that quality criteria for water used in fish processing were not established in the legislation; that many provisions related to out of date Community legislation; although the CA employed qualified veterinarians, the inspection of establishments did not identify major non-compliances (including dead flies in flake ice, and no HACCP plans, and serious hygiene deficiencies on some vessels). There was no written sampling programme for the detection of contaminants and the parameters analysed were too limited. Laboratory test results were considered unreliable, as unsatisfactory proficiency testing had not been followed up. It was also noted that reefer vessels transporting Falkland fishery products did not comply with the requirement to be listed by the country whose flag they fly, and for that country to be approved for export to the EC. Additional guarantees were sought, along with a plan of corrective actions, as a condition of continued access to the EC market.

25. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Madagascar in March 2007, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery and aquaculture products to the EU market. The mission was a follow up to one conducted in 2005 which found numerous and serious deficiencies in food safety conditions. The mission found that in spite of an upgrading and training of the inspection services, inspectors were still too focused on structural deficiencies in establishments rather than food safety conditions, HACCP plans did not reflect hazards and controls methods, and there were discrepancies in the certification records at central and local levels. The FVO was satisfied that the CA had acted to prevent the landing of tuna for canning, from other third country vessels not included in the list of approved vessels. A number of shortcomings remained in the processing establishments; overall the mission noted that despite the ongoing corrective measures, the Competent Authority was not yet able to guarantee full control and certification of the conditions. Additional guarantees were therefore sought, along with a plan of corrective actions, as a condition of continued access to the EC market.

26. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Togo in April 2007, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that new regulations were introduced during the inspection mission and it was too early to assess the effectiveness of the official controls. Shortcomings were identified in the landing sites and laboratory testing (including histamine testing and water analysis). Whilst standards in two processing establishments were satisfactory, HACCP plans were found to be deficient. The mission also found that the Competent Authority had withdrawn the list of approved vessels, following their owner's refusal to submit to the hygiene controls. The CA was requested to submit guarantees and an action plan to address the observed deficiencies.


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