FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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August 2009

Common Fisheries Policy

1. FAO concludes international agreement on port state control measures
2. EU makes a number of adjustments to the 2009 TACs and quota regulation
3. EU excludes certain Swedish and Spanish fleet segments from cod effort limitations
4. Stop fishing notices published for many EC fleets segments

Fish hygiene

5. Rapid alerts were notified for 44 consignments of fishery products in August 2009
6. Commission sets detailed rules for EU organic aquaculture and seaweed production
7. DG SANCO publishes report on Egypt; generally safe, but weak implementation
8. EFSA says some limits on marine biotoxins are too low; mouse test not suitable
9. Commission extends list countries allowed to export ornamental aquatic animals to EU

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Members of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concluded an international agreement on port state measures as part of the global fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The agreed measures set minimum standards for the anti-IUU steps to be taken by Port States, and include establishment of a list of designated ports, prior notification by the flag state to confirm the legality of the catches held onboard before a vessel is granted access to port facilities, procedures for inspection of foreign vessels when at port, and for follow-up of any infringements detected, a legal basis for denying IUU-listed vessels access to port facilities, and provisions for the enhanced exchange of information between countries. The Agreement, welcomed by the European Commission, is the first major international instrument on fisheries management to be established since the adoption of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement in 1996.

2. The European Council passed a regulation making a number of adjustments to the 2009 TACs and quota regulation to account for changes in fishing effort limits for cod in the North Sea and Baltic, community effort and quotas for bluefin tuna, quotas for krill, additional quota exchange with Norway, TACs and quotas for several species, labelling of fish caught from NEAFC area, and strengthened controls on mackerel catches by third country vessels.

3. The European Council passed a regulation excluding certain Swedish vessels (targeting Nephops in Skagerrak and the Kattegat when using sorting grids) and Spanish vessels (targeting hake in West of Scotland) from the cod fishing effort limitation regime, due to their proven low level of cod bycatch (<1.5%) in these fisheries.

4. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission for Spanish vessels establishing fishing for Greenland halibut, all vessels fishing for Norway pout, Portuguese vessels fishing for deep-sea sharks, forkbeards and anglerfish, Polish vessels fishing for herring, United Kingdom vessels fishing for Greenland Halibut, Swedish vessels fishing for cod, and Dutch and French vessels fishing for cod.

Fish hygiene

5. During August 2009, rapid alerts were notified by Member States for failure to comply with health conditions for 44 consignments of fishery products, including frozen black tiger shrimps, frozen pangasius fillets and frozen clams from Vietnam, razor fish from the United Kingdom, fresh yellow fin tuna vacuum packed sashimi loin, chilled tuna, fresh tuna, swordfish loins from Sri Lanka, and salted carp roe from the USA.

6. The Commission set the detailed rules extending the implementation of the Council organic production and labelling regulation to aquaculture production and seaweeds. The regulation sets conditions for the aquatic production environment, for impacts on other species of animal, plants and birds, separation of organic and non-organic aquaculture units, allows the use of non-organic fish broodstock, and requires animal welfare conditions in husbandry and slaughter to be addressed (including maximum stocking densities). It specifies that biodiversity should be respected, and does not allow the use of induced spawning by artificial hormones. Organic feeds should be used where they are available. There is a requirement for fish feeds to be derived from sustainably managed fisheries; feeds must also meet animal health requirements regarding protection against spongiform encephalopathies. Astaxanthin is permitted as a feed additive within the limit of physiological needs. Special provisions are made for bivalve molluscs. Veterinary interventions to protect animal health should follow a regime which provides for an order of preference in applications and extended withdrawal periods.

7. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for fishery products in Egypt, following its mission in April 2009. The mission was a follow up to a previous visit in 2003. Whilst in general the control system could be regarded as providing guarantees equivalent to those defined in EC legislation, legislative deficiencies identified previously had not been addressed. Controls were undermined by weak implementation, and in particular a low level of knowledge regarding HACCP, lack of temperature controls throughout the cold chain and lack of testing for heavy metal contaminants by fishery business operators. There was no inspection of fishing vessels at landing sites, and traceability was not established.

8. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) summarised the outcome of the various opinions on marine biotoxins that are currently regulated in European Union legislation. Based on the established acute reference doses set by EFSA, the opinions conclude that the current EU regulatory limit values for okadaic acid (OA), domoic acid (DA). azaspiracid (AZA), saxitoxin (STX)-group toxins are not sufficiently protective for heavy consumers of bivalve molluscs and their products. For yessotoxin (YTX)-group toxins and pectenotoxin (PTX)-group toxins, the EU limit values are sufficiently protective. EFSA has also commented that the official test, the mouse bioassay, has shortcomings and is not considered an appropriate tool for control purposes because of the high variability in results, the insufficient detection capability and the limited specificity.

9. The Commission passed a regulation extending the criteria for countries from which crustaceans and ornamental aquatic animals may be imported to the Community, to account for countries which are not members of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) but which have established an agreement with the OIE to submit data on animal health status. This extends the list of countries which can supply to 22 Pacific Island countries and territories, and Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and Northern Mariana Islands.

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