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

Common Fisheries Policy


1. EU requires all imported fish consignments to be certified for IUU from 2010
2. EU decides to participate in the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement
3. Commission adopts proposed TACS for deep-sea resources for 2009 and 2010
4. Commission adopts precautionary TACS for Black Sea for 2009
5. Commission provides EUR29.4 million grant for fishery data collection
6. Polish fisheries industry gets subsidies of EUR734 million.
7. EU and Norway reaffirm intention to reduce discards in the North Sea
8. Community Fisheries Control Agency adopts 2009 work programme
9. Stop fishing notices were published for many EC fleet segments.
10. UK beam trawl gets extended days at sea
11. The French Presidency of the EU launches Biomarine Forum
12. Commission launches policy consultation process for the Baltic Sea Region
13. Commissioner Borg visits Scotland

Fish hygiene

14. Rapid alerts were notified with regard to 32 consignments of fishery products.
15. Commission reports on rapid alerts for 2007; 218 related to unsafe fishery products
16. Council adopts changes to EU requirements for water quality and toxic fish
17. Council adopts changes to official controls for toxic fish and bivalve monitoring
18. Council adopts new limits for TVB-N limits in certain fishery products
19. Commission extends derogation for fish oil consignments from third countries
20. DG SANCO finds scallop controls from Greenland "not equivalent"
21. Commission considers new limits for arsenic in animal feeds
22. EFSA gives opinion on animal welfare aspects of farmed Atlantic salmon.
23. EFSA gives opinion on animal welfare aspects of farmed European eel
24. EFSA gives opinion on animal welfare aspects of farmed trout.
25. EFSA gives opinion on the azaspiracid toxins in mussels
26. Commission allows import of snails from Madagascar.
27. Commission suspends live fish imports from Malaysia
28. Commission suspends import of certain bivalve molluscs from Peru.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. On 29 September 2008 the EU Council of Ministers passed the new regulation to control illegal, unregulated and unrecorded fishing, and to prevent IUU products from being sold on the EU market. From 1 January 2010, imports of fishery products from outside the EC (except freshwater and aquaculture products, and some bivalves) should be accompanied by a catch document which certifies that the consignment was caught in compliance with the laws of the flag state of the catching vessel. Flag states will be obliged to make arrangements for verification of catch certificates, and ensure that consignments are traceable to the vessel of origin through transhipment and processing. It also introduces an EU "blacklist" of non-complying vessels, together with detailed rules for compiling that list, the implications of being blacklisted, and the consequences for third countries which harbour such vessels. The Commission has commenced a programme of information seminars for third countries. In a speech on 13 October, Commissioner Joe Borg introduced the new IUU regulation, emphasising its importance in seeking to improve sustainability of global fisheries, he promised a "serious response" to the need to assist implementation by less developed countries.

2. The Council adopted a decision approving the EC participation in the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA), following the adoption of that Agreement during a Diplomatic Conference held in Rome on 7 July 2006. The Agreement will govern high seas fishing in the Southern Indian Ocean. Six countries (the Comoros, France, Kenya, Mozambique, New Zealand and Seychelles) and the European Community will be the founder members.

3. The European Commission adopted a proposal for deep-sea fishing opportunities for 2009 and 2010, reflecting agreements for progressive reduction of catches of deep sea sharks and orange roughy to zero over four years, and further reductions in TACs for roundnose grenadier, red seabream and black scabbardfish in line with scientific advice.

4. The European Commission adopted a proposal for fishing opportunities for turbot and sprat in the Black Sea for 2009. The Commission proposed a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 100 tonnes for turbot, unchanged from 2008, as well as introducing mesh size limits. The TAC is shared between Bulgaria and Romania. A TAC of 12,750 tonnes for sprat, representing a 15% reduction compared to 2008. The TAC for sprat is unallocated. Due to the lack of adequate data, the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF) was unable to provide new advice on appropriate catch levels for 2009 and the scientific advice of October 2007 is applied as precautionary measure.

5. The Commission passed a Decision establishing for 2008 the amount of the eligible expenditure for each Member State for the collection and management of the data required for the operation of the Common Fisheries Policy, and the amount of support from Community funds. Member States can spend up to EUR58.8 million on data collection, with EUR29.4 million financed from the EU.

6. The Commission announced that it had approved the Operational Programme for the Polish Fisheries Industry for the period 2007-2013. The measure will provide subsidies for the Polish fisheries industry from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), amounting to EUR734 million. Priority axes are fleet restructuring, development of aquaculture and fish processing, and sustainable development of fisheries regions.

7. At a meeting in Brussels of scientists, administrators and control experts, the EU and Norway reaffirmed their determination to reduce discards in the North Sea, through the introduction of real-time closures of fishing grounds and improved gear selectivity. The EU has proposed a new regulation on fishing gears allowed in the North Sea, to reduce catches of young fish. Commissioner Borg described the situation as "a major environmental scandal".

8. The Administrative Board of the Community Fisheries Control Agency adopted its work programme and budget for 2009. The programme provides for the extension of the coordination of control to Western Waters and NEAFC area. Work will start on the implementation framework for the new regulation against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as well as horizontal approaches to the harmonization of control rules under the Common Fisheries Policy. The agency will establish a new monitoring centre for assessment of controls, a training and development centre, and a data monitoring centre. Serge Beslier, formerly acting director of ''External Policy and Markets'' in DG Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, was elected as the new Chairman of the CFCA Administrative Board.

9. Stop fishing notices were published for Belgian vessels fishing for common sole, German vessels fishing for cod and sandeel, Portuguese vessels fishing for redfish, French vessels fishing for forkbeards and cod, British vessels fishing for red seabream and for all Member State (except Germany, Spain, Estonia, France, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom) fishing for black scabbardfish, Polish vessels fishing for cod, Irish vessels fishing for common sole and cod, Swedish vessels fishing for ling, and all Community vessels fishing for sprat. 10. The Commission extended the number of days at sea permitted for the UK beam trawl segment, by 28 days (to 220 days in 2008) due to reductions in fleet capacity following further withdrawals of vessels.

11. The French Presidency of the European Union launched the Biomarine Forum ("the World Marine and Maritime Forum") in Toulon and Marseille, France. The objective of the Forum, which is managed by the Lyon Scientific Foundation, is to provide an international platform for dialogue bringing together business, science, government, civil society and media to advance ocean sustainability. The forum plans a series of interactive conferences, debates and business conventions open to scientists, industrialists, financial partners and other "key actors" working with marine issues. The State Secretary for Defence and Maritime Affairs of Portugal said that the forum could become "a kind of Davos meeting of the sea".

12. The Commissioner announced the launch of a policy consultation process, with the aim of preparing an "EU strategy for the Baltic Sea Region" by June 2009. The strategy will aim at a stronger and more coordinated policy in relation to environmental conditions and sustainable economic development.

13. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Joe Borg visited Scotland for meetings with Government and stakeholders to discuss the weak economic situation of the fishing fleet, and the role which restructuring can play in bringing the industry back to profitability. He also addressed the annual conference of the European Fish Processors and Traders Association (AIPCE-CEP).


Fish hygiene


14. Rapid alerts were notified with regard to XX consignments of fishery products, for failure to comply with health and hygiene conditions for fishery products. These included consignments from Spain (mako shark and swordfish), Bangladesh (fresh water headless shell-on shrimps), Brazil (chilled swordfish fillets), Vietnam (frozen swordfish fillets and pangasius fillets ) and United Kingdom (fresh porbeagle shark).

15. DG SANCO of the European Commission has published its annual report regarding the system of Rapid Alert for Food and Feed (RASFF) for 2007. In 2007, a total of 2976 original notifications, classified as 961 alert and 2015 information notifications, were received through the RASFF. About 21% were in relation to fishery products. The number of notifications referring to consignments of fishery products with mercury above the legal limit increased to 124, compared to 71 in 2006. There were fewer notifications for residues of antibiotics in fishery products than the year before: 58 in 2007 compared to 80 in 2006. As before most were related to nitrofurans and metabolites (35 notifications) in aquaculture products from Asia. Twenty notifications related to high levels of dioxins and in particular dioxin like PCBs in canned fish liver (17) from Denmark (7), Poland (8) Norway (1) and France (1).

16. The Council passed important changes to the regulations concerning the quality of water used in the production and processing of fishery products for human consumption, as set out in the Annexes of Regulation 853/2004. The amendments will allow clean seawater to be used for the handling and washing of fishery products, the production of ice used to chill fishery products and the rapid cooling of crustaceans and molluscs after their cooking. Clean water, as well as clean seawater and potable water, may also be used for external washing of live bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods, providing that appropriate measures are applied to prevent contamination. The amendments also a) clarify requirements for raw material conditions for production of fish oils for human consumption and b) allow fishery products belonging to the family Gempylidae to be placed on the market providing that they are appropriately labelled regarding possible adverse health impacts.

17. The Council adopted a Regulation amending several of the detailed provisions regarding the hygiene conditions applicable to the official control of fishery products for human consumption, set out in Annex III of Regulation 854/2004. The amendments provide for a) checks on frozen fishery products belonging to the family Gempylidae, and for adoption of tolerances for numbers of E.coli detected in bivalve molluscs from Class B collection areas,

18. The Council also adopted amendments to the TVB-N limits (up to 60mg/100g) for landed fishery products when they are to be used for production of fish oils for human consumption. The regulation also provides that Member States may apply different national limits for certain species, provided that the fish still meet the freshness criteria.

19. The Commission passed a regulation, renewing the derogation until 30 April 2009, of the requirement that establishments consigning fish oils for human consumption to the EU comply with the hygiene requirements set out in the Annex to Regulation 853/2004.

20. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported the findings of a mission by to Greenland in April 2008, with regard to assessing the conditions for supply of frozen scallops to the EU market. The mission found that although a new monitoring system for scallops had been introduced, the sampling was not representative. The reference test methods for marine biotoxins, Salmonella and E.coli were not used by the testing laboratories, and the national reference laboratory did not have access to the relevant standards. The mission concluded that the Competent Authority (the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration) was not in a position to guarantee conditions at least equivalent to those defined in the EC regulations.

21. The Commission considered the requirement for specific controls in the total levels of arsenic in animal feeds and announced the intention to propose a maximum level of 25 mg/kg in fishmeal obtained from the processing of fish or other marine animals and a level of 10 mg/kg in complete feedingstuffs for fish and fur animals. In the meanwhile the requirement for inorganic arsenic content in fishmeal to be lower than 2 mg/kg remains applicable.

22. The European Food Safety Authority delivered a scientific opinion on the animal welfare aspects of husbandry systems for farmed Atlantic salmon. Given the lack of evidence, findings were based on expert opinion. No major differences in welfare outcomes were found concerning overall welfare risk among the different production systems used for each life stage. Concern was expressed over grading systems, disease control and vaccinations, and the need for additional research was emphasised.

23. The European Food Safety Authority delivered a scientific opinion on the animal welfare aspects of husbandry systems for farmed European eel. Major welfare issues were identified in relation to capture of glass eels, with high levels of recorded injury and mortality. Weaning and infectious diseases were the major risks in grow out operations. The opinion stated that contingency plans should be developed to protect fish from exposure to rare and brutal hazards. The finding indicated that more research is required towards completion of the eel life cycle under artificial conditions, since this would have a high potential impact on recovery of endangered stocks and sustainability of an important aquaculture sector.

24. The European Food Safety Authority delivered a scientific opinion on the animal welfare aspects of husbandry systems for farmed trout. Several factors affecting trout welfare were identified: abiotic and biotic factors, feed and feeding, husbandry, genetic, disease and disease control measures. Predation is also significant welfare issue, along with the lack of available veterinary medicines. However overall the risk assessment found no major differences concerning overall welfare risk between the different production systems used for each life stage.

25. EFSA also delivered a scientific opinion on the azaspiracid group of marine biotoxins, originally detected in mussels consumed in Netherlands, and which cause the AZP shellfish poisoning. Mussels have been found to be the most frequently affected species. The panel concluded that a 400g portion of shellfish should not contain more than 12 µg AZA1 equivalents, i.e. 30 µg AZA1 equivalents/kg shellfish meat. However the panel also noted that the reference test method, the mouse bioassay, has severe shortcomings, and that more work is required to validate a chromotagraphic testing method.

26. The Commission decided to allow the import of snails for human consumption from Madagascar.

27. The Commission decided to suspend the imports into the Community from Malaysia of consignments of certain live fish.

28. The Commission decided to implement emergency measures suspending the import from Peru of certain bivalve molluscs intended for human consumption.


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