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June 2009

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Council debates aquaculture, fisheries controls and 2010 TACs
2. European Commission hosts meeting of five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) in Spain
3. Commission publishes press release criticising tuna RFMOs
4. EU Fisheries Council recommends European aquaculture strategy
5. Commission presents action plan for simpler implementation of fisheries policy
6. EU ratifies Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Guinea
7. EU Council cancels large number of obsolete decisions, directives and regulations
8. EU Council lifts tariff exemptions on shark and dogfish fillets
9. Commission extends suspension of rules of origin for tuna from Indian Ocean countries
10. Commission adjusts 2009 TAC and quotas for sandeel in the North Sea
11. Commissioner Dr.Joe Borg speaks on EC aquaculture policy
12. Commissioner Dr.Joe Borg has structured dialogue with Committee of the Regions
13. Commissioner Dr.Joe Borg welcomes purchasing from certified sustainable fisheries.

Fish hygiene

14. Rapid alerts notified by the Commission for 66 consignments of fishery products
15. DG SANCO reports on Dominica; "no control system"
16. DG SANCO reports on El Salvador; in principle equivalent, but compromised
17. DG SANCO reports on Malaysia; equivalent controls, some concerns
18. DG SANCO reports on Sri Lanka; undermined by weak testing laboratories
19. Commission decides to introduce emergency measures for crustacea from India
20. Commission publishes guidance on EC animal health requirements for aquaculture
21. Commission proposes new list of third countries allowed to supply ornamental aquatic animals
22. Commission discusses approval of several zones free of fish diseases
23. Commission considers derogation of Pacific countries supplying ornamental fish to EU
24. Commission warns of oyster diseases in France
25. Norway notifies Commission of outbreak of Bonamia ostreae
26. Denmark declares some areas free of Bonamia and Marteilia diseases

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU's Agricultural and Fisheries Council held a policy debate on i) the need to stimulate the Community's aquaculture sector and to simplify administrative burdens and ii) the reform of the control system under the Common Fisheries Policy. The debate focused on the harmonization of sanctions, the implementation of a penalty point system and the extension of the powers of the Commission, Community inspectors and the Fisheries Control Agency. The Council also had an exchange of views on the 2010 TACS and quotas, with a view to a making a decision in October.

2. The European Commission hosted the Second Joint Meeting of the five tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) in San Sebastian, Spain. The meeting followed on from the first such event held in Kobe, Japan, in 2007. The objectives of the five day meeting included a review of the action plans, a workshop on reducing over-capacity in the global tuna fleet, and the agreement of a new plan of action for improved sustainability of large pelagic fisheries for the next two years.

3. The Commission published a press release on common questions and answers regarding Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs), highlighting some of the reasons why progress with the tuna RFMOs has been disappointing in recent years. Follow through on agreed measures has been disappointing and there is a need for the adoption of meaningful political targets.

4. The Agricultural and Fisheries Council set out its conclusions on a strategy for the sustainable development of European aquaculture, endorsing the Commission's Communication "Building a sustainable future for aquaculture, A new impetus for the Strategy for the Sustainable Development of European Aquaculture". The Council intends to simplify and improve coherence in the licensing procedures, recognises that the sector is a rightful user of water resources, and invites the Commission to develop measures to address fish diseases and predation by cormorants.

5. The Commission presented to Council its "Communication on the implementation of the 2006-08 Action Plan for simplifying and improving the Common Fisheries Policy". This sets out the progress made. The Commission claims that EU fisheries legislation has become clearer, that implementation costs for operators have been reduced, and that the EU is a world leader in applying cutting-edge technology to fisheries management.

6. The Council passed a Decision ratifying the new Fisheries Partnership Agreement negotiated between the EC and the Republic of Guinea, which was initialled on 20 December 2008. The Decision sets out the fishing opportunities allocated to EC vessels. The Agreement will benefit tuna seiners from Spain (15 vessels), France (11 vessels), Italy (2 vessels), pole-and-line vessels from Spain (8 vessels) and France (4 vessels).

7. As part of its drive for improved governance the EU Council approved a decision and a regulation repealing a number of obsolete regulations, directives and decisions regarding structural elements of the Common Fisheries Policy, capacity adjustments, expired derogations regarding hygiene capacity, interim common measure for restructuring the inshore fishing industry and aquaculture, compensatory indemnities in respect of sardines, measures relating to the accession to the Community of Spain and Portugal, coordination and promotion of research in the fisheries sector and other measures.

8. The EU Council passed a regulation lifting the suspension of the autonomous common customs tariff duties fishery products under TARIC codes 0304 29 61 10 (fillets of dogfish Squalus acanthias and Scyliorhinus spp.) and 0304 99 99 31 (fillets of sharks), since it is considered no longer in the interests of the Community to suspend import tariffs on these products.

9. The Commission decided to extend the temporary suspension of rules of origin which allows Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar to export specified quantities of from non-originating preserved tuna and tuna loins to the EC duty free, pending the coming into force of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the eastern and southern Africa States and the European Union later in 2009.

10. The Commission passed a Regulation amending the 2009 TAC and quotas for sandeel in the North Sea, following scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). The new TAC is set at 376,920 tonnes.

11. Commissioner Dr.Joe Borg gave a speech setting out the future plans in relation to EC aquaculture policy, following the Conclusions of the Council (above). He announced that the Commission will not be developing a community wide management plan for cormorants, due to lack of agreement between Member States.

12. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Dr.Joe Borg gave a speech on the reform of the CFP as part of a "structured dialogue" by the Committee of the Regions. He presented some of issues outlined in the recent Green Paper on CFP reform and highlighted how ecological sustainability has been compromised so as to cushion short-term economic or social difficulties. He indicated that this approach is no longer sustainable.

13. Dr.Joe Borg gave a speech to the German Bundestag in Berlin, 17 June 2009. He outlined a number of current issues relating to the EC's maritime and fisheries policy, including the current CFP review and emphasised the need to address excess capacity in EU fisheries (2 or 3 times greater than the resource can sustain). He said that CFP reform can help fishermen regain trust in the market, and welcomed the switch of some retailers to products from certified sustainable fisheries.

Fish hygiene

14. Rapid alerts were notified by the Commission for failure to comply with health conditions for 66 consignments of fishery products during June 2009, including consignments from Spain (frozen mako shark), Croatia (canned salted anchovies, chilled greater amberjack, chilled hake), China (fish oil capsules), Tunisia (chilled John Dory), Panama (escolar and fishmeal), France (gurnard fillets), and Denmark (shrimp powder).

15. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Dominica in February 2009, regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of fish and fishery products. The mission found that there was no control system in place at all. There was no legislation in place concerning fishery products, fishing vessels, landing sites, cold stores, establishments or aquaculture. The Competent Authority CODOPESCA had no technical competence in matters of hygiene of fishery products. Staff did not have legal powers to carry out inspections. No official control were carried out, there was no monitoring system in place, no sampling and testing of water supply, the Central Veterinary Laboratory was not accredited. The Competent Authority expressed its commitment to address the deficiencies. In the meanwhile Dominica will remain unable to export fishery products to the EC.

16. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to El Salvador in March 2009 regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of fish and fishery products, following a previous mission in 2002. The mission found that the control system can in principle be considered to deliver standards equivalent to those required in the EC. However, controls were comprised by a number of deficiencies including use of imported raw materials (tuna loins for canning) from non-eligible sources, lack of follow up on non-compliances noted in inspections, lack of sanctions against refusal to admit inspectors, and severe hygiene and structural deficiencies in an approved processing establishment. The Competent Authority submitted undertakings to address the deficiencies identified.

17. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Malaysia in March 2009 regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of aquaculture and fishery products, following up a previous mission in 2008. The mission found that the control system can offer guarantees equivalent to those foreseen under Community legislation. However a number of areas of concern were identified, including lack of information regarding withdrawal periods for permitted antibiotics used in aquaculture, storage of shrimps in ice slurry, and delayed implementation of the national residue monitoring plan. These were addressed in an action plan submitted by the Competent Authority.

18. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Sri Lanka in January 2009, regarding health conditions for the imports by the EC of aquaculture and fishery products and monitoring and controls of contaminants in aquaculture products, including residues of veterinary medicines. The mission found that the residue control system offers guarantees equivalent to those provided by EC legislation. There was an effective system of on-farm controls. Some deficiencies were noted, particularly technical weakness of testing laboratories (not accredited for the specific tests and substrates) and unsatisfactory proficiency test results not fully addressed.

19. The European Commission decided to introduce emergency measures with regard to crustacea imported from India and intended for human consumption. Safeguard measures will be introduced forthwith.

20. The Commission published a new Guidance Document on the EC Animal Health Requirements for Aquaculture Animals. The document aims to help competent authorities and aquaculture production businesses, exporters and importers of aquaculture animals and products in the Member States and in third countries. It explains the issues to be addressed in compliance with Council Directive 2006/88/EC of 24 October 2006 on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1251/2008 of 12 December 2008 as regards conditions and certification requirements. It includes a set of frequently asked questions.

21. The Commission held an exchange of views with Member States regarding a draft Commission Regulation to amend the list of third countries and territories from which crustaceans and ornamental aquatic animals may be imported into the Community. A new list will be published shortly.

22. The Commission discussed the declaration and approved of two areas in Italy and one in Spain as being free of VHS/IHN viral diseases of salmonids. The Commission considered a Danish application for Denmark to be declared free from Koi carp disease. A number of applications from various Member States were submitted to the Commission for the same issue, but there was insufficient information to declare them as free from that disease.

23. The Commission considered the proposal of Pacific countries to be exempt from the requirement for World organisation for animal health (OIE) membership for the export of ornamental fish to the EU. The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) has proposed the use of the OIE's, World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS) system, which demonstrates progress made by non-OIE member countries regarding the strengthening of aquatic health reporting systems. The Commission asked the Member States to send any comments on the functioning of the system, with a view to the modification of the Community legislation on the import of aquatic animals.

24. Concern was expressed regarding increases in mortality in young oysters (mainly Crassotrea gigas) due to infection, noted in France since April 2009. The source of this mortality is still unknown. The French National Reference Laboratory and the French Food Safety Authority (AFFSA) are carrying out an epidemiological study to find out the cause of the mortality. Member States were requested to be vigilant.

25. The Norwegian representative provided information on an outbreak of Bonamia ostreae in wild flat oysters detected on 3 June in Southern Norway.

26. Denmark informed the Commission of its declaration of an area free of Bonamia and Marteilia diseases in Limfjord.

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