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

Common Fisheries Policy


1. EU prevents fishing for bluefin tuna due to non-compliance with conservation rules
2. EU proposes faster restructuring to help fishers cope with high price of oil
3. New regulation approved on market controls for IUU fish
4. Technical measures regulation adopted; includes real time fishery closures
5. New controls approved on trawling in fragile or unsurveyed marine habitats
6. All EU vessels fishing outside EU waters to be subject to harmonised regime
7. New regulation passed on measurement standards for nets and mesh sizes
8. Errors corrected in EU's regulations for fishing in NAFO
9. EU Marine protected area declared in Netherlands
10. EU to continue supporting whaling moratorium at IWC meeting in Chile
11. Stop fishing notices published for Portuguese, French, Spanish and Swedish vessels
12. Member States request Commission to transfer some 2008 fish quotas to 2009
13. Montenegro gets duty free access to EC market for fishery products
14. Commissioner Borg attends the 7th biennial Baltic Sea States Summit in Riga

Fish Hygiene Conditions

15. Rapid alerts notified for 31 consignments of fishery products
16. Commission proposes new health certificates for fishery and aquaculture products
17. Safeguard measures introduced on fish and shrimp imported from Gabon
18. Safeguard measures considered for fishery products from Bangladesh and Uruguay.
19. Safeguard measures re-considered for fishery products from Indonesia
20. DG SANCO reports on Guatemala; finds "deplorable hygiene conditions"
21. DG SANCO reports on Malaysia; most vessels and establishments not compliant
22. DG SANCO reports on Papua New Guinea; only limited progress on action plan
23. Commission updates list of third countries with approved residue monitoring plans
24. Commission publishes online database of veterinary drug residues
25. Commission introduces new MRLs for dioxins and PCBs in fish liver
26. Commission introduces more rules covering the introduction of alien fish species
27. Commission amends list of approved aquaculture zones and farms
28. Commission considers quarantine conditions for aquatic animals
29. Commission considers format of public information on individual aquaculture farms
30. List of derogated establishments in Bulgaria and Romania amended


Common Fisheries Policy

1. Despite requests from some Member States for the fishery to remain open, the Commission closed the purse seine fishery for bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic, on the assumption that quotas have been consumed. Vessels from Greece, France, Italy, Cyprus and Malta were prohibited from fishing from 16 June, and purse seiners from Spain were stopped fishing from 23 June. Explaining the closure, Commissioner Jo Borg said that in 2008, the fishery has been marred by continued failures by Member States to implement the agreed rules. Eight French purse seine vessels spent up to 21 days fishing but declared no catches whilst other vessels have caught over 90% of their individual quotas. Eight Italian vessels overfished by between 100 and 240% and up to 20 spotter planes worked illegally in coordination with EU vessels to help them identify bluefin tuna shoals. Given the total failure of the Member States concerned to respect fisheries management rules, the Commission therefore considered the request to keep the fishery open to be "very poorly based". The Commission affirmed that it is determined to use "all necessary means" to prevent a recurrence of the substantial overfishing by EU vessels seen in 2007.

2. The European Commission proposed an emergency package of measures to alleviate social and economic hardship in the fishery sector triggered by the rise in the price of oil, while also tackling the underlying structural problems of the European fleet. The measures will support more rapid decommissioning, with additional decommissioning aid for bigger cuts in fleet capacity, grants for temporary cessation of activities, and market measures to increase the value of fish. The EU Council of Fisheries Ministers agreed the Commission's plans and will consider concrete proposals in July 2008.

3. The Council of Fisheries Ministers adopted a new regulation on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing. This will require traceability throughout the market chain for all fish and fish products entering the EU market. It will also provide the legal basis for prosecution of EU nationals involved in IUU fishing outside Community waters. The measure will become law when formally adopted by the European Council.

4. The European Commission adopted a proposal for the long awaited regulation on technical measures to promote the conservation of fish stocks, to reduce discards and protect vulnerable marine habitats in EU waters. Specific measures include a) provisions for Member States to implement real-time closures of areas of up to 10 days to avoid excessive discards b) reduction in number of species subject to a minimum landing size c) requirement to stop fishing when juveniles are more than 10% of the catch d) flexibility in the application of by-catch rules to reduce discarding. More specific rules adapted to local conditions will be added in a series of Commission Regulations, each corresponding to the fisheries covered by the Regional Advisory Councils concerned. The Regulation will not apply to the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.

5. The Council of Fisheries Ministers also decided to ban bottom trawling in some areas to protect fragile marine habitats. No EU vessels will be allowed to carry out bottom fishing operations in uncharted areas, unless a proper scientific assessment of the situation has shown that no harm will be done. Any vessel encountering these vulnerable habitats will have to stop fishing and move on, and all vessels engaged in fisheries in these areas will have to carry scientific observers.

6. The European Council also approved a new regulation which requires fishing authorisations for EU vessels fishing outside EU waters. This will provide a single coherent framework for dealing with all EU vessels which operate in distant waters, whether under Fisheries Partnership Agreements, in waters managed by Regional Fisheries Organisations, or under private agreements with third countries.

7. The Commission updated the regulation specifying the methods for the measurement of mesh sizes, so as to determine compliance with minimum mesh size technical measures applied in Community legislation. The regulation defines new standard measures and provides a detailed specification of an EU standard mesh gauge for measurement of mesh size.

8. The Commission passed a Regulation correcting errors in the 2007 regulation introducing changes to the fisheries controls applied to EC vessels fishing within NAFO. The provisions amended included those relating to mesh size, transhipments, closed areas to ensure coral protection, catch reports, definition of serious infringement, product codes, the port inspection format as well as technical requirements for boarding ladders.

9. Acting on a request from the Dutch government, the European Commission designated a marine protected area in the Voordelta region of the Netherlands, which is threatened by habitat loss caused by enlargement of Rotterdam harbour. The measure will establish a rest areas for seals and birds, within which most fishing activities will be prohibited, and bans vessels of more than 191 kW with tickler chains from operating in the region.

10. The EU Council of Environmental Ministers adopted a common position on maintaining the whaling moratorium, in advance of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, held in Chile on 23-27 June 2008. The position called on the International Whaling Commission to fully adhere to the 1986 whaling moratorium, and maintains that whaling disguised as scientific research as carried out by Japan should be stopped, stating that adequate data for management purposes can be obtained using non-lethal techniques.

11. Stop fishing notice for were published for Portuguese vessels fishing for cod, haddock and saithe, French vessels fishing for cod, Spanish vessels fishing for blue whiting, roundnose grenadier and Greenland halibut, and Swedish vessels establishing a prohibition of fishing for saithe and cod, due to exhaustion of quota.

12. The Commission adjusted the 2008 fish quotas for Community waters, following requests by several Member States to transfer a part of their quotas to 2009 fishing opportunities.

13. Following the signature of the Stabilisation and Association Agreement between the EC and the Republic of Montenegro, the Commission has implemented duty free access to the EC market of fishery products from this country.

14. Commissioner Borg attended the 7th biennial Baltic Sea States Summit in Riga in early June to discuss reform of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS) and the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.


Fish hygiene conditions

15. Rapid alerts were notified to the Commission for failure to comply with health conditions for 31 consignments of fishery products, including products from Republic of Korea (dried seaweed), United States (frozen stewed monkfish liver), Myanmar (dried anchovy), Vietnam (frozen cleaned blood clams) and Croatia (chilled mackerel)

16. The Commission has proposed amending the certification requirements for import of fishery products, live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods intended for human consumption, and for the import of aquaculture animals and products, and laying down a list of vector species.

17. Further to the FVO inspection carried out in Gabon in 2007, which revealed serious deficiencies with regard to food safety conditions of fishery products exported to the European Community, the Commission introduced protective measures requiring all batches of fish and shrimp imported from Gabon to be sampled and tested for heavy metals and sulphites at the expense of the importer.

18. The Commission considered draft Regulations on protective measures applicable to shrimps imported from Bangladesh. The Commission voted in favour, and the measure will now be considered by the European Parliament. If passed, the measure will require the testing of shrimp imported from Bangladesh, to be conducted at importers' expense. A similar measure was approved from fishery products from Uruguay.

19. The Commission considered amending its safeguard measures under Commission Decision 2006/236/EC on special conditions governing fishery products imported from Indonesia and intended for human consumption, but no decision was made.

20. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Malaysia in April 2008 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market, and following up on a 2005 inspection. The mission found that two-thirds of the vessels and establishments visited did not comply with EC standards. The Competent Authorities (being the Ministry of Health, the Fisheries Development Authority and the Department of Fisheries) were not carrying out official controls in line with EC legislation. There was a particular lack of control over the use of sulphite additives in crustacea. The mission also found that the Competent Authority was unable to guarantee the animal health status of aquaculture fish exported for ornamental purposes, since there was no active surveillance of the disease status of farms. The mission concluded that the recommendations of the 2005 mission had not been addressed, and that the Competent Authority was not able to guarantee health conditions at least equivalent to the EC requirements. The Commission required that the deficiencies be addressed in an action plan.

21. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Papua New Guinea in February 2008 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market, and following a previous mission in 2007 which identified the need for a number of important corrective actions. The mission found that progress has been limited, with one establishment and many freezer vessels still presenting important deficiencies. The National Fisheries Authority, being the Competent Authority had not demonstrated capacity to enforce the legal standards; traceability systems were not reliable, and the list of freezer and reefer vessels was out of date. The Commission required that the deficiencies identified be addressed in an action plan, with additional guarantees to be provided by the Competent Authority.

22. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Guatemala in October 2007 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market, and following up from a previous mission in 2005. The mission found that legislation, although upgraded, still showed some gaps in relation to Community measures, particularly in relation to microbiological limits. Different Competent Authorities were responsible for raw and cooked fishery products in the same establishment, with no collaboration between the two. The mission also found that no samples of water or fishery products were ever taken from establishments by the Competent Authority, (Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganaderia y Alimentacion - MAGA) and there were no organoleptic checks undertaken. Shrimp vessels were unable to store frozen shrimp at the correct temperature, and did not have appropriate hygiene facilities. One of four establishments (which exported cooked shrimp to the EU) had serious shortcomings, including "deplorable hygiene conditions". Cooked shrimp was being certified by MAGA without authority, and the establishment concerned being de-listed by the relevant Competent Authority. The Commission considered that the health conditions could "not be deemed fully equivalent", and required that the deficiencies identified be addressed in an action plan.

23. The Commission updated the list of countries for which it has approved residue monitoring plans for foods of animal origin from farming. Aquaculture products from Costa Rica are added to the list, along with a number of changes in relation to non-fishery products.

24. The European Commission passed a regulation introducing a Maximum Residue Limit for dioxins and dioxin like PCBs in fish liver and its products (including canned fish liver).

25. The Commission passed a regulation providing detailed rules covering the introduction of alien and "locally absent" fish species for aquaculture, to ensure that adverse impacts on non-target species and on aquatic habitats are considered and minimised. Different "adverse effects" are defined. The Commission also extended the list of species exempted from the prohibition, to include additional tropical species farmed in the French Overseas Departments, such the Giant river prawn, the Mozambique tilapia, the Nile tilapia and Red drum.

26. The Commission amended the list of approved aquaculture zones and farms in the EC considered to be free of certain important diseases of fish.

27. The Commission discussed a Draft Commission Decision laying down quarantine conditions for aquatic animals, but no decision was made.

28. The Commission considered the detailed format for Member States' to present public information on individual aquaculture farms. The proposals were submitted to Member States for more detailed consideration.

29. The Commission passed a Decision amending the Act of Accession for Bulgaria and Romania in relation to the list of establishments processing products of animal origin which did not comply with EU requirements at the time of accession. The list is amended to take into account upgrading of a number of establishments and closure of others.

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