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FISHERIES POLICY AND FISH HYGIENE
TECHNICAL INFORMATION IN FOOD & FISHERIES POLICY & DEVELOPMENT
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February 2008

Common Fisheries Policy


1. Commission complains that Member States send false information on catch declarations; controls to be tightened
2. EC Fisheries Data collection regulation to be extended, to allow ecosystem approach
3. Commission announces 2008 programme; new technical regulations to be published and drive for aquaculture development
4. Czech Republic gets EU fisheries subsidies of EUR27 million
5. Commission finds that UK Government gave illegal subsidies to Shetland fishers and processors
6. Negotiations open on renewal of EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement
7. EC - Côte d'Ivoire Fisheries Partnership Agreement ratified by EC; tuna and long line opportunities for EUR595,000/year
8. European Commission accuses Japan of undermining international efforts to conserve and protect whales

Fish hygiene

9. Thirty three rapid alerts were notified during February 2008 for fishery products found not to comply with health conditions
10. Commission amends the list of third countries and territories which imports of fishery products for human consumption are permitted
11. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Senegal in April 2007; serious shortcomings in health conditions for fishery products
12. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Guinea in November 2006; likelihood of serious contamination of fishery products
13. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Azerbaijan in September 2007; not fully compliant but no serious risk to consumer health
14. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Ecuador in August 2007; several deficiencies and action plan of corrective measures required
15. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Gabon in September 2007; significant shortcomings and alarming contamination
16. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Saint Pierre and Miquelon in June 2007; required to suspend certification of bivalve molluscs
17. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Vietnam in October 2007; insufficient sampling of bivalve molluscs; action plan requested
18. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Bangladesh in October 2007; laboratories not accredited and poor follow up of positive residue results
19. EFSA published an opinion on the risks regarding okadaic acid (OA) in bivalve molluscs: test method and current limits inadequate
20. Commission announces amendments to maximum level for fluorine in fish feed
21. Commission announces consolidation and updating of regulations on sampling and analysis of feedingstuffs
22. Commission unable to decide whether animal feed laws should apply to fishing baits
23. New legislation on health claims and nutritional labelling of foods to be introduced.
24. Commission proposes maximum histamine levels be specified in the Codex Standard on fish sauce
25. Commission proposes that MRLs for benzo(a)pyrene be applied only to the final ready to eat product in the case of smoke-dried fish.
26. EU Council delegates power to Commission to amend laws on health claims and fortification of foods with vitamins or minerals.
27. EFSA provides scientific advice regarding the nutrient profiles for foods

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Slovenian Presidency of the European Union organized an informal meeting of EU Fisheries Ministers on control of fisheries activities, at which Commissioner Borg complained to the Member States that despite spending EUR400 million a year on control, of which EUR200 million go to controls at sea, the registration of catches remained unreliable, that little verification or cross checking of data was carried out, and that false catch declarations were forwarded by EU Member States to the Commission. The European Commission has started a consultation exercise on its initiative to reform the system. A detailed consultation paper has been published and stakeholders and citizens have until 5 May 2008 to provide the Commission with their views and will launch a new initiative in October 2008 to strengthen detection of infringements and stiffen penalties by cross checking declarations at auctions, markets and imports.

2. The European Council adopted the Commission's proposal for a regulation extending the EU framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector. The new data framework introduces provisions to support the move towards fisheries or fleet-based management as opposed to managing individual stocks, the integration of environmental data, and the shift towards an ecosystem-based approach. The Commission will shortly introduce a proposal for detailed implementing rules.

3. At a speech at Europeche Commissioner Borg announced that 2008 would be a priority year for improved fisheries controls and aquaculture development in the European Union. He also assured the meeting that the much delayed new technical measures regulation would be published, that the Commission will report on the functioning of the Regional Advisory councils and multi-annual management plans will be implemented for anchovy, northern hake and for salmon in the Baltic Sea. He also announced that the work of the Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) is being evaluated by an external consultant, who will report later in 2008. 4. The Commission announced that it had approved the Operational Programme for the Czech Fisheries Industry for the period 2007-2013. The measure will provide subsidies for the Czech fisheries industry from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) amounting to EUR27.1 million.

5. The Commission has published a decision following an assessment of grants made by the Government of the UK in respect of the 'Fishing Vessel Modernisation Scheme' and the 'Fish factory improvement scheme' both operated by the Shetland Islands Council. The Commission found that the United Kingdom unlawfully granted state aids and was in breach of the EC Treaty in respect of some of the grants made. The Commission has required that the UK take steps to recover the aid from the beneficiaries, including GBP 92,007 from Shetland Fish Products Limited.

6. The Commission has announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mauritania on the review of the current fisheries Protocol under the EU/Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The aim is to commence technical negotiations and conclude a new Protocol to run from the expiry of the current one in July 2008. 7. The Council of Ministers approved the terms of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EC and the Government of Côte d'Ivoire, backdated to 1 July 2007 and to run until 30 June 2013. The first Protocol provides for fisheries access for 25 EC freezer tuna seiners and 15 EC surface longliners. The EC will pay an annual amount of EUR455,000 equivalent to a reference tonnage of 7,000 tonnes per year and a specific amount of EUR140,000 per year for the support and implementation of Côte d'Ivoire's sectoral fisheries policy. The EC has allocated the fishing opportunities for purse seiners to France and Spain, and for surface longliners to Spain and Portugal, for the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2013.

8. The European Commission expressed concern over Japanese scientific whaling and called on EU Member States to agree on a unified position against all whale hunting. The Commission accuses Japan of undermining international efforts to conserve and protect whales and states that there is no need to use lethal means to obtain scientific information about whales.

Fish hygiene

9. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 33 consignment of fishery products during the month of February 2008, including products from Spain (swordfish, oysters, fresh chilled mackerel, vacuum packed sliced smoked salmon, frozen swordfish, canned tuna steak in brine), France (oysters), Denmark (fish soup) United Kingdom (salmon), Netherlands(frozen prawns) and France (crab spring rolls).

10. The Commission has amended the list of third countries and territories which comply with EC health conditions and from which imports of fishery products for human consumption are permitted, to account for the addition of Armenia, Montenegro, and Bosnia Herzegovina to the list, and the removal of Romania and Bulgaria (as they are now EC Member States).

11. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Senegal in April 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found a number of serious shortcomings, including lack of staff training, lack of accredited laboratories, and poor conditions in the supply chain. However, given that most exports are of fresh minimally processed fishery products, the FVO considers risk to consumer health to be very unlikely. Undertakings, in the form of an action plan, were sought that the deficiencies would be addressed.

12. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Guinea in November 2006 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found numerous shortcomings regarding checks on water, lack of control over fishing vessels supplying fishery products for export to the EC, lack of conformity with hygiene and HACCP conditions throughout the supply chain, poor control over signature of health certificates and lack of adequate laboratory facilities. The FVO concluded that the situation is likely to give rise to serious contamination of fishery products and that Guinea is not able to guarantee compliance with the health requirements. The Competent Authority has since provided guarantees that remedial measures are being implemented.

13. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Azerbaijan in September 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that standards of water quality were not compliant with EC legislation; inspectors knowledge of HACCP needed to be improved since HACCP plans were not compliant and only limited official analyses had been carried out by the Competent Authority. Testing laboratories were not accredited and did not apply EC methods for heavy metal analysis. The mission concluded that although official controls were in place, the system was not fully compliant. Given that only caviar is exported from one establishment, the mission concluded that no serious risk to consumer health was likely to occur.

14. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Ecuador in August 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery and aquaculture products to the EU market, following up from a previous mission in 2005. The mission found that several canneries sourced raw material (frozen tuna) for products destined to the EC market from Vanuatu (not an approved country) and from non-listed reefer vessels and from fishing vessels from authorized countries but not themselves listed. Shrimp were de-headed in establishments which did not meet EC requirements. The Competent Authority also requires that fishery business operators pay for laboratory testing in nominated laboratories. Testing laboratories were accredited to national standards, which were not established as compliant with ISO17025. Deficiencies were found in the food safety conditions on board fishing vessels, and some deficiencies were detected in HACCP plans of some shore based establishments. The Competent Authority was required to submit an action plan of corrective measures.

15. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Gabon in September 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found some significant shortcomings in the food safety controls in relation to high storage temperatures for fishery products, lack of traceability, non-existent and/or ineffective HACCP plans, and very poor and un-auditable follow up of negative findings by the Competent Authority, with potentially alarming impacts in relation to chemical contamination (sulphites and heavy metals). There was a lack of qualify management system in the testing laboratories used for the analysis of fishery products and export certification procedures were not secure. The Competent Authority was requested to inform the commission of the steps intended to address the shortcomings.

16. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Saint Pierre and Miquelon in June 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of bivalve molluscs to the EU market. The mission found that the control system is defective in respect of unrepresentative sampling points, and that bacteriological analysis was conducted only water, not on finished products. Long delays in identification of marine biotoxins undermined real time area controls and the testing laboratory was not accredited. The competent authority was required to suspend certification of bivalve molluscs and submit an action plan of corrective measures.

17. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Vietnam in October 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products and bivalve molluscs to the EU market. The mission followed up a previous visit in 2005, and 38 rapid alerts during 2006 and 2007. The mission found that the sample numbers and frequency in some areas for the harvest of bivalve molluscs was insufficient and the monitoring of some biotoxins was not undertaken. The inspectors also found a lack of follow up of inspections at landing sites, lack of compliance of fishing vessels. One establishment was also identified with major hygiene deficiencies and the mission concluded that some aspects of official control need to be further improved. These were to be addressed within an action plan to be submitted to the Commission.

18. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Bangladesh in October 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for monitoring of residues in fishery products consigned to the EU market. The mission found that since the last visit testing laboratories had been upgraded to test for residues of veterinary medicines with the result that a residue monitoring programme had been implemented. However there were insufficient samples and little progress had been made towards the accreditation of testing laboratories. The mission found that there was insufficient follow up of positive results and of RASFF notifications. The mission also identified that controls over the distribution and use of veterinary medicines were extremely weak.

19. EFSA published the first in a series of nine opinions on the risks and limits associated with various marine biotoxins following a request by the European Commission. The opinion assessed the toxicological data regarding okadaic acid (OA) and related toxins. The Panel noted that the dietary exposure of a 60 kg adult consuming a large portion of shellfish meat (400g) contaminated at the current EU regulatory limit would be close to a level at which the toxins could lead to illness. The panel also found that the live mouse bioassy had serious shortcomings and recommended work should advance on validation of biochemical method of analysis. The assessment could lead to a reduction in the maximum permitted limit of okadaic acid in shellfish.

20. Following the publication of the EFSA scientific opinions and risk assessment relating to animal feeds the Commission announced that it has decided to amend Annex I to Directive 2002/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on undesirable substances in animal feed. Amongst other measures this proposal will raise the maximum level for fluorine in fish feed from 150 ppm to 350 ppm.

21. The Commission notified the Member States that it is preparing a draft Commission Regulation laying down the methods of sampling and analysis for the official control of feedingstuffs. This will replace, update and consolidate18 existing Commission directives several of which have been amended substantially over the years.

22. The Commission considered the status of fishing baits and the question whether they should be considered as animal feed materials. It deems that further discussion on this issue is necessary.

23. The Commission has announced that it will proposed new legislation on food labelling to replace Directive 2000/13/EC on health claims and nutritional labelling. The new proposal will take into account the changes in consumer demands and marketing practices, and will reflect the new ways in which food is packaged and sold. Under the draft Regulation, front-of-pack nutrition information would become mandatory for nearly all pre-packaged processed foods. There would be on the front of the packaging the energy, fat, saturated fat, carbohydrates with specific reference to sugars and salt content of the product, expressed in terms of per 100ml/100g or per portion.

24. The Commission has suggested a number of amendments to the Proposed Codex Standard on fish sauce. It is proposing a maximum histamine level be adopted, but does not suggest a level.

25. The Commission has suggested a number of amendments to the Proposed Codex Standard on smoked fish, smoked-flavoured fish and smoked-dried fish which are all defined. The Commission proposes that the standard requires that the MRL for benzo(a)pyrene of 5µg/kg of fish muscle be applied to the only to the final ready to eat product in the case of smoke-dried fish.

26. The European Council amended the Regulation of nutrition and health claims, to delegate to the Commission the powers to adopt Community measures concerning the labelling, presentation and advertising of health and nutritional characteristics of foods and concerning the fortification of foods with vitamins or minerals.

27. The Nutrition Panel of EFSA has provided scientific advice regarding the nutrient profiles for foods bearing nutrition and health claims. The Panel advises that the main scientific consideration in establishing nutrient profiles is the potential of a food to adversely affect overall dietary balance.


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