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FISHERIES POLICY AND FISH HYGIENE
TECHNICAL INFORMATION IN FOOD & FISHERIES POLICY & DEVELOPMENT
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March 2009

Common Fisheries Policy


1. EU proposes strengthening of regional fisheries management for the Mediterranean
2. EU establishes strict control and inspection programme for bluefin tuna
3. NEAFC considers additional measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems.
4. Commission adopts long-term plan for the management of the northern hake
5. Commission rejects Ombudsman's finding of error in UK fish quotas
6. Commission specifies electronic data standards market intervention systems
7. Stop fishing notices were published for some quota species
8. Commission revises species and areas codes for catch reporting outside Community waters
9. EU seeks tighter controls on Indian Ocean fisheries for tuna, shark and swordfish

Fish hygiene

10. Rapid alerts notified for 34 consignments of fishery products in March 2009
11. DG SANCO reports on mission to India; deficiencies in aquaculture and landing sites
12. DG SANCO reports on mission to Israel; significant and extensive non-compliances found
13. DG SANCO reports on a mission to Korea; bivalve mollusc controls satisfactory, but not those for fishery products
14. DG SANCO reports on mission to South Africa; abalone controls still not compliant
15. DG SANCO reports on mission to Thailand; processing in non-approved establishments
16. EFSA gives opinion on cadmium; vegetarians most at risk
17. Netherlands allowed to contravene EC labelling law for smoked eel
18. Commission published FAQs on new animal health and welfare arrangements for imports from third countries

Common Fisheries Policy

1. At the annual meeting of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, in Tunis, the EU proposed the introduction of a GFCM fishing fleet register, a vessel monitoring system for all vessels above 15m, and improved data collection, as well as measures for improved selectivity of trawl gears.

2. Following the ICCAT decisions of November 2008, the Commission has decided to establish a specific control and inspection programme for bluefin tuna fisheries, during the period 15 March 2009 to 15 March 2011, involving Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Portugal. The objective is to ensure that conservation and control measures are implemented effectively. The programme specifies control and inspection priorities and procedures, as well as monitoring benchmarks for implementation.

3. The North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) met in London to consider measures to implement the UN General Assembly resolution on vulnerable marine ecosystems. The Council considered proposals to expand areas currently prohibited to bottom gear fishing activities, expand closed areas in the Mid Atlantic Ridge and Hatton Bank regions, and to strengthen NEAFC procedures in case of detection of vulnerable marine ecosystems during fishing operations.

4. The Commission adopted a long-term plan for the management of the northern hake stock in EU waters. This plan will replace the recovery plan in place since 2004, which has helped the stock recover from almost collapse to a safe target size.

5. The Commission rejected last month's finding by the Ombudsman, that an administrative error concerning fishing quotas in the West of Scotland for the year 2007, had resulted in an under-allocation to the UK. The Commission claimed that the analysis was based on a "non-paper" which cannot be considered as an official proposal, and was therefore not valid.

6. The Commission passed a regulation setting out the detailed requirements for the future transmission of information in electronic format from Member States to the Commission regarding fisheries producer organisations, and their activities in market intervention and price support. Annexes set out the data formats for electronic data transmission.

7. Stop fishing notices were published for French vessels fishing for anglerfish in CECAF waters

8. Following the accession of the European Union the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, the EU has revised the statistical areas for the reporting of fish catches made in areas other than the North Atlantic, by vessels of the EC Member States. It has also revised species codes, area codes and measures of fishing effort to be used for reporting of fisheries activity in the North west and North east Atlantic.

9. The Commission has announced its intention to seek new measures to protect shark and tuna stocks, at a meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), due to take place in Bali at the beginning of April. The proposed measures include catch limitations for yellowfin and bigeye tuna and swordfish, a ban on large-scale driftnets, a regional observer programme and an obligation to land all shark bodies together with fins

Fish hygiene

10. During March 2009, rapid alerts were notified to the Commission for failure to comply with health conditions by 34 consignments of fishery products, including consignments from Turkey (frog legs, clams and cockles), Morocco (octopus, squid, ray's bream), Bangladesh (fresh water shrimp), Croatia (smoothhound shark) and Peru (frozen dolphinfish fillets).

11. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to India in November 2008, following up a previous mission in 2006 regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of fish and fishery products including aquaculture products. The mission found that there had been significant improvements in laboratory testing and official controls. However, deficiencies were identified in respect of controls on aquaculture veterinary residues and hygiene conditions on vessels and landing sites. The Competent Authority was requested to submit an action plan to the Commission setting out steps to enhance the relevant elements of the control system.

12. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Israel in November 2008, regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of fish and fishery products. The mission found a number of significant deficiencies in the official controls. Local veterinary inspectors were not aware of EC requirements, legislation could not be considered equivalent in respect of water quality, histamine sampling and testing, additives and use of hypochlorite to decontaminate fishery products. There was no official control of hygiene conditions on board fishing vessels, and no records of inspections at landing sites. HACCP plans were not compliant with EC conditions and there was no comprehensive structured follow up of non-compliances detected by inspections. Consignments of imported raw material were used for fishery products exported to the EC without official verification of the sanitary conditions of their origin. Not all of the laboratory tests were within the scope of accreditation of testing laboratories. Conditions in two out of five processing establishments were found to be non compliant with EC requirements. The Competent Authority, Veterinary Service of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development acknowledged its failures and was required to submit a plan of corrective actions, subsequently approved by the Commission.

13. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Korea in November 2008, following up a previous mission in 2005 regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of fishery products and bivalve molluscs. The mission found that the negative findings of the previous mission in respect of bivalve mollusc controls have been largely addressed by the Competent Authority, the National Fishery products Quality Inspection Service. However in respect of controls for fishery products, the mission found that HACCP plans were still not required on freezer vessels and there were no official controls at landing sites. The Competent Authority had issued EU health certificates for products which did not originate from approved sources. Sampling and testing methods for histamine did not follow EC requirements. One out of six establishments visited was found to have a major deficiency not identified by inspectors. The mission concluded that conditions could not be considered at least equivalent, and requested the submission and implementation of a plan of corrective actions.

14. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to South Africa in October 2008, following up a previous mission in 2005 regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of fish and fishery products including bivalve aquaculture (abalone). The mission found that most of the recommendations have been addressed satisfactorily in relation to fishery products, where the Department of Food and Associated Industries has achieved accreditation of its inspection system to ISO 17020. However with regard to aquaculture products the mission found a number of deficiencies in the testing for marine biotoxins in abalone, include the use of non-standard weights of white mice for bio-assay, lack of follow-up on variances arising from proficiency testing and lack of structured approach to phytoplankton monitoring for toxic algal species, with identification of threshold values. The Competent Authority was requested to submit and implement a plan of corrective actions by the Commission.

15. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Thailand in September 2008, following up a previous mission in 2005 regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of fish and fishery products including bivalve molluscs. The mission found that the Competent Authority, the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Division of the Department of Fisheries had largely addressed all of the deficiencies found by the previous mission in relation to fishery products. However, it found that fishery products were being "pre-processed" in establishments which did not meet EC requirements in relation to HACCP, traceability. The mission also found that the CA did not check that the origin of tuna imported for canning was not from a source authorised to supply the EC. In relation to bivalve molluscs the mission found that the testing laboratories for algal toxins did not participate in international proficiency testing. There was no national scheme established for algal toxins and tests were not accredited to ISO17025. The mission concluded that the controls could not be considered fully compliant with the EC requirements and requested the submission of a plan of corrective actions.

16. The European Food Safety Authority adopted a scientific opinion on cadmium in the food chain, following a request by the European Commission. Seaweed, fish, seafood and chocolate were among the foods with highest levels of cadmium, but those foods which contributed most to high dietary intakes of cadmium in the EC were cereals, vegetables, nuts, pulses, potatoes and meat. Vegetarians therefore are the group with highest exposure, but regular consumers of bivalve molluscs and wild mushrooms could also consume similar quantities. Tobacco smoking increases exposure significantly. Using a model, the study estimated a tolerable weekly exposure to cadmium, and found that the average consumption by European adults is close to, or slightly exceeding, this exposure. The panel concluded that the current exposure to cadmium at the population level should be reduced.

17. The Government of Netherlands notified the Commission of a mandatory indication of the date of packaging on the label of pre-packed smoked eel. This is additional to the requirements of EC regulations on labelling of foods. No objections were raised due to the limited impact on intra-community trade.

18. Following the revision and update of animal health and welfare conditions for imported animals and products of animal origin from third countries, the European Commission has published a list of frequently asked questions, several of which relate to conditions for aquaculture products, fish oils and fishfeeds.


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