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September 2008

Common Fisheries Policy

1. European Commission proposes immediate and full review of the CFP
2. Commission publishes new strategy for marine and maritime research
3. Commission proposes 2009 TACs for fish stocks in the Baltic Sea
4. Commission launches multi-country Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013
5. Mediterranean Regional Advisory Council (RAC) declared operational
6. NAFO holds 30th Annual Meeting
7. Stop fishing notices issued for several EC fleet segments
8. Commission approves EUR34.8 million Community subsidies for Hungarian fisheries
9. Commission approves EUR137.6 million Community subsidies for UK fisheries
10. Commission approves EUR42.2 million Community subsidies for Irish fisheries
11. Commission announces intention to publish a Communication on the Arctic environment
12. Rules of origin derogation approved for tuna products from Madagascar

Fish hygiene

13. Thirty one rapid alerts for fishery products notified during September 2008
14. Food and Veterinary Office reports on Namibia; generally at least equivalent
15. DG SANCO announces introduction of new rules and MRLS for pesticide residues
16. Third country fish oil plants get extended derogation from EU food safety rules
17. European Food Safety Agency discusses animal welfare of farmed fish
18. EFSA announces results of risk assessment on okadaic acid shellfish toxins
19. EFSA updates scientific advice on risk from Listeria monocytogenes
20. European Commission removes exemptions from food plants in Bulgaria and Romania

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission published a discussion paper analysing the achievements and shortcomings of the Common Fisheries Policy, since its reform in 2002. The paper suggests that whilst the 2002 reform package has improved the way EU fisheries are managed it has not been successful in achieving a sustainable fishery sector. The Commission proposes that a full review of the CFP should be launched immediately, in order to prepare the ground for a major reform of the institutional framework of European fisheries management.

2. The European Commission published a Communication on the EU Strategy for Marine and Maritime Research and a coherent European Research Area Framework in support of a sustainable use of oceans and seas. This aims to ensure that research is directed at ensuring better management of human activities which exert environmental pressure on oceans and seas, and ensure a coherent engagement of stakeholders and follows the adoption by the Commission of the "Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union" in October 2007. The strategy focuses on a new approach to research cooperation across traditional sector-based boundaries. Some of the themes are: climate change and the oceans; impact of human activities on coastal and marine ecosystems and their management; ecosystem approach to resource management; continental margins and deep sea; operational oceanography and marine technology and exploitation of renewable marine energy resources.

3. The European Commission proposed the 2009 TACs for fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. Following scientific advice cuts in catches of Western cod of 15% and in Western herring of 63% are proposed. For the Eastern cod stock the Commission is proposing a 15% increase in the EU quota, due to evidence of a recovery following the emergency measures implemented in recent years. The proposed cut in the Salmon TAC is a further 15%, and the Commission has announced that it is working on a recovery plan for this species.

4. The European Commission announced the launch of the multi-country "Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013", co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument. The programme will support a number of governance related initiatives in the Baltic region, including "Priority 3: Management of the Baltic Sea as a common resource" which will address environmental pollution in the Baltic Sea and support actions aimed at limiting pollution inputs and impacts in the marine environment. The priority also promotes the economic management of the Baltic Sea by means of best available technologies and practices in the context of climate change. The Managing Authority for the Programme is Investitionsbank Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany.

5. The Commission announced that the Mediterranean Regional Advisory Council (RAC) has become operational. This RAC is the seventh stakeholder-led body created to give the fishing industry and other interested parties a greater say in the way fisheries are managed at EU level, thus completing the governance framework set up by the reform of the Common Fisheries policy. The Mediterranean RAC includes representatives from the catching sector, aquaculture producers, processors, traders, recreational and sport fishermen, environmental NGOs and consumers.

6. The North West Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) held its 30th Annual Meeting held in Vigo, Spain and discussed recent progress made in the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems. The progress was welcomed by the European Commission.

7. Stop fishing notices were issued for Portuguese vessels fishing for deep sea sharks and anglerfish, German vessels fishing for cod and ling, Danish vessels fishing for ling, French vessels fishing for tusk, United Kingdom vessels fishing for cod, Swedish vessels fishing for cod, and Dutch vessels fishing for hake and blue whiting.

8. The European Commission approved the Operational Programme for the Hungarian fisheries industry for the period 2007-2013. Under the programme the total eligible public expenditure amounts to EUR46.8 million, with the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) contributing a subsidy of EUR34.8 million. Priorities include aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products.

9. The European Commission approved the Operational Programme for the UK fisheries industry for the period 2007-2013. Under the programme the total eligible public expenditure amounts to EUR246.9 million, with the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) contributing a subsidy of EUR137.8 million. Priorities include adaptation of the EU fishing fleet, aquaculture, inland fishing, processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products and socio-economic measures related to quality of life in fisheries areas. 10. The European Commission approved the Operational Programme for Irish fisheries industry for the period 2007-2013. Under the programme the total eligible public expenditure amounts to EUR66.3 million, with the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) contributing a subsidy of EUR42.3 million. Priorities include adaptation of the EU fishing fleet, environmental management schemes and socio-economic measures related to quality of life in fisheries areas.

11. At the Arctic conference in Greenland on 9th September 2008, hosted by the Nordic Council of Ministers, Dr. Borg, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced that the Commission will be publishing a Communication on the Arctic later in 2008. This will examine issues ranging from climate change to governance and discuss how Europe can best contribute towards sustainable development of the region and the global economy, while protecting the Arctic from environmental changes resulting from increased human activity.

12. Following low catches of tuna in the Indian Ocean in early 2008, the Commission has approved a request from the Government of Madagascar to derogate 500 tonnes of tuna loins and 2,000 tonnes of canned tuna exported to the EU from the requirement to comply with the rules of origin required to qualify for the ACP tariff preference for these products.

Fish hygiene

13. During September Community Rapid Alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions in 31 consignments of fishery products, including live clams from Italy, live crabs from France, canned tuna in tomato sauce and swordfish from Spain, and fresh chilled sliced monkfish from United Kingdom.

14. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Namibia in May 2008, with regard to assessing the sanitary conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that some of the shortcomings identified in a previous mission in 2005 had been satisfactorily addressed by the Competent Authority (the Ministry of Trade and Industry) and the nominated (foreign) inspection body (the South African Bureau of Standards). However, conditions in government-owned establishments remained unsatisfactory, HACCP and hygiene deficiencies were not always correctly identified by inspectors, and there was an inadequate follow-up of deficiencies found. Although generally, the conditions are considered to be at least equivalent, the deficiencies are considered to somewhat undermine the reliability of the system, and appropriate recommendations are provided.

15. DG SANCO issued a press release to mark the entering into force of new rules for the setting of harmonised Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs) for pesticides under Regulation (EC) No 396/2005. This regulation harmonises Europe-wide Maximum Residue Limits for 1,100 pesticides in 315 agricultural products (including processed products, adjusted to take account of dilution or concentration during processing). The Commission also announced the launch of a new online database of MRLs applicable to each crop and pesticide, available via:

16. The Commission once again discussed the Draft Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2076/2005 as regards a transitional period for imports of fish oil for human consumption. This would extend until 30 April 2009 a derogation from the requirement for approval and listing of fish oil establishments in third countries, according to conditions set out in Regulation 853/2004. Despite concerns expressed by Finland, Sweden and Spain, the measure was approved by a qualified majority.

17. The European Food Safety Agency held a technical meeting in Parma on the animal welfare of farmed fish in order to exchange views with stakeholders and experts from Member States on welfare issues relevant to all finfish species, and in particular Atlantic salmon. The meeting discussed fish farming practices which may have an impact on fish welfare, including high stocking density, feeding distribution, handling and grading and inadequate disease treatment. The meeting will help to develop EFSA's response to the Commission's request for advice on the welfare of most common farmed fish species: Atlantic salmon, trout, carp, sea bass, sea bream and European eel.

18. Following the request by the European Commission EFSA has commenced the risk assessment of the current European Union human health limits for various marine biotoxins and the methods used to detect them. The first group of toxins to be assessed was the okadaic acid (OA) group of toxins which can contaminate shellfish, notably bivalve molluscs, such as oysters, mussels, scallops, and clams, and can cause diarrhetic shellfish poisoning. The data on the chronic effects of OA in animals or humans was insufficient for a tolerable daily intake (TDI) to be established. However, in view of the acute toxicity of OA-group toxins, EFSA decided to establish an acute reference dose (ARfD), of 0.3 µg OA equivalents / kilogram bodyweight, based on the available human data. EFSA also highlighted shortcomings in current animal testing methods and made recommendations for future work on alternative biomolecular and chemical methods. The need for further toxicological data was highlighted.

19. EFSA announced that it has updated the scientific advice on how to reduce the risk from Listeria monocytogenes. EFSA recommends that industry pays particular attention to: food packaging and preparation practices in the food chain (such as the slicing of ready-to-eat meat products), storage temperatures, general industrial good hygiene practices, and the education and training of food handlers. EFSA advises that consumers should also observe recommended storage temperatures, keep food appropriately chilled at all times, and take note of the shelf-life of food in their refrigerators.

20. The European Commission passed a decision removing certain meat, fish and dairy processing establishments in Bulgaria and Romania from the list of those considered to be in transition, following their upgrading and subsequent compliance with Community hygiene requirements.

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