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December 2008

Common Fisheries Policy


1. Commission fines France EUR77 million for illegal fuel subsidies to fishermen
2. EU Council decides 2009 TACS and quotas; observer scheme to be established
3. European Union promises Norway on discards and real-time area closures
4. Marketing standards for preserved sardines amended to allow Strangomera bentincki
5. EC designation "Scottish farmed salmon" extended to include organic salmon
6. European Council approves 2009 price support for fishery products
7. Commission defines data requirements for scientific analysis of fisheries
8. EU allows more time for renewal of fishing capacity in Outermost regions
9. Commission approves EUR8.3 million subsidies for Maltese fishery sector
10. Commission approves EUR21.6 million subsidies for Slovenian fishery sector
11. EC limits number and capacity of vessels targeting tuna, swordfish in Indian Ocean
12. Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission adopts tuna management plans
13. Quota for 2008 increased for turbot in the Black Sea
14. Kattegat cod fishery reopens for Swedish vessels
15. Stop fishing notices published for several EC fleet segments

Fish hygiene

16. Nineteen rapid alerts notified for non-compliant fishery products
17. DG SANCO reports on a mission to Russia; certification procedures criticised
18. Commission publishes guidance shelf life studies for Listeria monocytogenes
19. Commission also publishes a guidance for food businesses on L. monocytogenes
20. Commission comments on several draft CODEX standards on fishery products
21. Commission publishes detailed guidelines on analytical methods for residue testing
22. Commission establishes regime for quarantine of imported aquaculture species
23. Commission amends model health certificates for the import of fishery products
24. Commission extends ban on imports of Cyprinidae originating in Malaysia
25. EFSA reports of welfare conditions of farmed carp (Cyprinus carpio)
26. EFSA reports that common husbandry practices minimise welfare risks to farmed fish

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Commission passed a Decision regarding state aid granted by France to fishermen to compensate for the rise in the price of fuel since 2004, by using oil futures options purchased on behalf of the sector. Although the objective of the fund was to even out variations in the price of fuel, the Commission decided that it was in practice an illegal subsidy incompatible with the common market. Following legal representations by the parties, France is held to be in breach of the EC Treaty, and the Commission is seeking to recover up to EUR 77 million from the fund and the fishery sector beneficiaries, with interest.

2. The EU Council of Fisheries Ministers decided the 2009 TACS and quotas for EC fisheries. There is a 25% reduction in TACs for most cod stocks, except for in the North Sea where a 30% increase is provided, due to the effects of the recovery plan. For the whitefish fishery west of Scotland, despite zero catch advice for haddock and whiting, Council agreed on to reduce TACs by 25% for cod, 42% for haddock and 25% for whiting, along with increased mesh sizes, and a discard reduction programme for the Nephrops fishery. An observer scheme will also be established to ensure these provisions can be monitored.

3. Norway and the European Union reached agreement on the management of their shared fisheries, including the setting of fishing possibilities for 2009 for the seven main jointly managed fish stocks in the North Sea (cod, haddock, saithe, whiting, plaice, mackerel and herring). The EU committed to minimise and ultimately eradicate discards in these fisheries and the Agreement provides for real-time area closures to protect juvenile and undersized fish concentrations, and a ban on 'high grading'.

4. The Commission passed a Regulation amending the common marketing standards for preserved sardines and trade descriptions for preserved sardines, to add the sub-tropical species Strangomera bentincki (Araucanian herring) to the list of species authorised for the preparation of preserved sardine-type products, and requiring the region of origin to be stated.

5. The Commission approved changes to the specifications associated with the use of the protected designations of origin "Scottish Farmed Salmon". This allows for organically reared Scottish Farmed Salmon to be included within the specification.

6. The European Council approved regulations setting the parameters for 2009 for the EC's system of price support for fishery products subject to withdrawal from the market (guide prices, selling prices and conversion factors, reference prices, storage aid, processing aid etc).

7. The Commission set the detailed rules for specific data to be collected by Member States as part of their multi-annual programmes for the collection and management of data for scientific analyses of fisheries.

8. The EU Council passed a Regulation extending until 31 December 2011the derogation allowed to member States in relation to the entry/exit scheme for fishing vessels registered in outermost regions of the Community. This will allow more time for replacement of existing capacity with new vessels in these regions.

9. The Commission announced that it had approved the Operational Programme for the Maltese Fisheries Sector for the period 2007-2013. The measure will provide subsidies for the Maltese fisheries sector from the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) amounting to EUR8.3 million. Priority axes include adaptation of the EU fishing fleet, aquaculture, processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products, and technical assistance.

10. The Commission also announced that it had approved the Operational Programme for the Slovenia Fisheries Sector for the period 2007-2013. The measure will provide subsidies for the Slovenian fisheries amounting to EUR 21.6 million. Priority axes include adaptation of the EU fishing fleet, and aquaculture, processing and marketing of fishery and aquaculture products.

11. Following the decisions of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to adopt a number of management and control measures, the European Council has passed a regulation limiting the number and capacity of EC vessels fishing in outside EEZs in the IOTC region for tropical tuna, swordfish and albacore, and allocating opportunities among the Member States concerned. In future 44 EC vessels may target tropical tunas, and 82 may target swordfish and albacore.

12. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted a three-year management plan for yellowfin and bigeye tuna. Key elements include a 30% reduction over three years in catches of bigeye tuna, and a two-month prohibition on fishing with floating platforms. The plan also contains control and monitoring measures, as well as a ban on discards. The moves were welcomed by the European Commission.

13. The EU Council amended the 2008 quota and conditions for the catch of turbot in the Black Sea.

14. The cod fishery in Kattegat was reopened for Swedish vessels for two weeks at the end of 2008.

15. Due to exhaustion of quota, stop fishing notices were published for French vessels fishing for herring and cod, Bulgarian vessels fishing for turbot, Dutch vessels fishing for hake, Estonian vessels fishing for Greenland halibut, Portuguese vessels fishing for forkbeards, and Spanish vessels fishing for black scabbardfish forkbeards, saithe and spurdog/dogfish.

Fish hygiene

16. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 19 consignments of fishery products, including those from Netherlands(vacuum packed tuna slices), Portugal(tuna fillets in olive oil), Republic of Korea(wild frozen baby clams), Bangladesh(raw block frozen freshwater headless shell on shrimps, Spain (frozen frigate mackerel and frigate tuna), and USA (chum salmon).

17. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Russia in June 2008, with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that although the Competent Authority (the Federal Service of Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) had strengthened the official controls, there were still longstanding deficiencies in place with regard to follow up of deficiencies and enforcement plans, insufficient monitoring of contaminants, testing for histamine in non-accredited laboratories, and certification fishery products by officers who have no means to verify the data being certified. The mission concluded that the Competent Authority was not in a position to guarantee conditions at least equivalent to those define in the EC regulations and was required to submit a plan of corrective actions.

18. The Commission published a Technical Guidance Document on the design and conduct of challenge tests and durability studies to ascertain safe shelf life in relation to growth of L. monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods.

19. The Commission also published a guidance document for food business operators on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. It provides advice on how to undertake studies to that show food is safe to the end of its shelf life, how to control growth conditions for L. monocytogenes and how to classify products into different risk categories.

20. The Commission has commented on the detailed content of the proposed CODEX Documents, including Draft Microbiological Criteria for Listeria monocytogenes in Ready-To-Eat Foods, Draft Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products, Draft Standard for Smoked Fish, Smoked-Flavoured Fish and Smoked-Dried Fish, and Draft Standard for Quick Frozen Scallop Adductor Muscle Meat.

21. The Commission published guidelines for the implementation of Commission Decision 2002/657/EC, concerning the performance of analytical methods for residues in foods, and the interpretation of results. Aimed at laboratory staff, the document provides explanations in support of assessment of recovery of substrate, performance criteria, method validation and assessment of compliance where a sum MRL is applied, with examples and specific advice regarding mycotoxins, dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs and heavy metals.

22. The Commission established a new regime for the control of fish diseases introduced by imports from third countries. It defines species of fish and aquaculture products which may be vectors of specific diseases, and the measures to be implemented to prevent their introduction to the Community through imports. Requires quarantine conditions to be applied with regard to certain species and origins (including minimum of 30 days quarantine for vector species); revises the model animal health certificate for the import of aquaculture animals for farming, relaying and open ornamental facilities, and sets out approval conditions for quarantine facilities in the third country and the EC.

23. The Commission passed a regulation amending the model health certificates for the import of fishery products into the Community from third countries, in order to harmonise the certificates for animal health conditions for aquaculture products, and extend the scope of certification to echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods.

24. The Commission extended the existing ban on imports of Cyprinidae originating in Malaysia, within the framework of the new regime for quarantine of aquaculture animals.

25. Following the request from the Commission, the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare of the European Food Safety Authority has issued a scientific opinion on the welfare conditions of farmed carp (Cyprinus carpio). Some of the main welfare problems identified are predation by cormorants, disease during the early life cycle stages, and in the case of eggs and fry, rapid temperature changes.

26. Having completed a series of risk assessments with regard to welfare of several species of commonly farmed fish (salmon, trout, carp, bass and bream and eel), the EFSA has published a summary document. The studies have highlighted the lack of scientific data available for risk assessment. The opinion notes that common husbandry practices aim to minimise risks to welfare from disease, predation and environmental hazards. The report concludes that intensive systems give producers a better opportunity to manage biological risks, but may present higher risks than extensive systems.


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