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

Common Fisheries Policy


1. Commission proposes further cuts under amended cod recovery plan
2. Black Sea excluded from Community measures for eel conservation
3. Commission publishes Communication on the ecosystem approach to marine management.
4. EU claws back overfished cod quotas from Poland, over three year period
5. Commission sets tight control and inspection programme for bluefin tuna

Fish hygiene

6. Forty consignments of fishery products subject to rapid alerts during April 2008
7. DG SANCO finds Croatia (an EU accession candidate) has major deficiencies in hygiene controls; veterinary inspectors have conflicts of interest
8. DG SANCO finds fish hygiene conditions in Mozambique to be globally satisfactory; no major deficiencies detected.
9. European Commission chooses to provide dietary advice on mercury, instead of tighter regulation:

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Commission proposed amendments to the 2005 cod recovery plan, following scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) showing that current measures have not been sufficient to allow the stock to recover. Of the four cod stocks concerned, only North Sea cod has shown some limited signs of recovery. The main changes proposed include new fishing mortality objectives, simplification of the fishing effort management system and a more flexible approach in adapting the rate of fishing pressure reduction to different stages of recovery. There will also be specific mechanisms to encourage the reduction of discards and to encourage the application of cod-avoidance programmes. The plan would also be extended to cover the Celtic Sea cod stock for the first time. The plan will need to be approved by the EU Council.

2. The Commission has decided that Community measures for the development of eel conservation plans by member states, should not apply to the Black Sea and its catchment area. Although European eel is found in these waters numbers are low and it is not clear that the region constitute a natural habitat.

3. The Commission published a Communication on the role of fisheries management in implementing an ecosystem approach to marine management. The document suggests that the key objectives should be to minimise the impacts of fishing on the marine environment by reducing the overall level of fishing pressure, and to ensure that fisheries measures support the cross-sectoral approach defined by the EU's Marine Strategy and Habitats Directives to ensure protection for vulnerable habitats and sensitive species, prevent disruptions to the food chain, and safeguard the integrity of key ecosystem processes.

4. Following the over fishing of Baltic cod by Poland in 2007 (catching three times the amounts declared and continued fishing after the prohibition of fishing in July 2007) the Council has passed a regulation which deducts the quantities fished in excess from the future annual quotas. However, to minimise socioeconomic impacts on Polish fishers, this is to be spread over the period 2008-2011, with just 10% reduction in 2008. Poland is also required to adopt a national action plan which addresses the IUU fishing by its fleet in the Baltic Sea.

5. The Commission has passed a Decision setting out the specific control and inspection programme involving France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Greece, with the objective of ensuring that conservation and control measures for bluefin tuna are implemented effectively. The decision requires specific control plans to be submitted, sets common rules and benchmarks for the control and inspection activities to be carried out by the competent authorities, sets framework for joint inspections. It also allows for inspections to be carried out by Commission inspectors without the assistance of inspectors of the Member States.

Fish hygiene

6. During the month of April 2008, rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for fishery products with respect to 40 consignments of fishery products. These included four consignments from Thailand (frozen octopus, frozen raw freshwater head-on shell-on shrimps, canned squid and canned mackerel), two from Vietnam (frozen cuttlefish and frozen cooked clams), two from China (frozen shrimps and frozen sliced octopus) and consignments from Indonesia, Malaysia and Myanmar.

7. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Croatia (an EU accession candidate) in October 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products, bivalve molluscs and aquaculture products to the EU market, following a previous mission in 2005. The mission was not provided with the latest legislation and therefore could not evaluate it, however maximum limits for lead in fishery products were not in line with EU requirements. Although private veterinarians were delegated authority for official controls, most had not received training to inspect HACCP systems. Private vets continued to have a conflict of interest by being responsible for issue of health certificates, as well supplying commercial services to fishery businesses. Three out of seven establishments selected by the mission team had never been inspected by the Central Competent Authority. Only one out of six establishments visited was compliant. Laboratory testing of marine biotoxins and phytoplankton was satisfactory, subject to final accreditation. A number of non-compliant processing establishments were found to be approved, and there were no formal procedures for follow of non-conformities. No fishing vessels are inspected. Plans for classification of harvest zones for bivalve molluscs had not been adopted. Given the major deficiencies found the FVO has asked for an action plan to be provided, along with a six-monthly report on progress in its implementation.

8. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Mozambique in November 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products, bivalve molluscs and aquaculture products to the EU market, following a previous mission in 2006. The mission found that new inspection procedures had been implemented and 19 additional inspectors recruited and trained. Deficiencies notes in establishments and vessels were given written deadlines for correction. However one establishment closed still remained on the approved list and non-Mozambican-flagged vessels were inspected and listed. A number of inconsistencies were also identified in certification procedures (e.g. backdating of certification, certification of product caught by non-authorised vessels). Fishing vessel inspection frequency (yearly) was insufficient. There were some deficiencies in HACCP plans (especially sulphite hazard). There was no formal organisation of sampling and testing for monitoring of fishery products. Testing laboratories were still not accredited, although 3 had commenced proficiency testing. Establishments and vessels visited were globally in a satisfactory condition with no major deficiencies detected. Out of 11 recommendations 7 have been satisfactorily addressed and the balance are subject to a revised plan of corrective actions.

9. Following the EFSA risk assessment on mercury in foodstuffs, the European Commission has assessed the potential for additional or stricter regulatory controls. It has concluded that whilst some groups of consumers may be exposed to an elevated risk, there is little scope for further reductions in the maximum residue limits given the levels of organic mercury found in many commonly consumed fish species. Therefore the Commission has decided to issue the following dietary advice: "Women who might become pregnant, women who are pregnant or women who are breast feeding should not eat more than one small portion (<100g) per week of large predatory fish, such as swordfish, shark, marlin and pike. If they eat this portion, they should not eat any other fish during this period. Also they should not eat tuna more than twice per week. Parents should be aware that this advice also applies to young children. Consumers should also pay attention to any more specific advice from national authorities in light of local specificities."


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