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September 2009


1. Item 6 of Fishfiles Lite, August 2009; rules on feeds for organic aquaculture

Common Fisheries Policy

2. FAO to establish international agreement on port state measures against IUU fishing
3. Commissioner Borg describes how transferable fishing rights might be applied in the EU
4. European Commission proposes 2010 TACs for Baltic fisheries; cod quota up
5. NAFO agrees conservation measures; Commission disappointed with compromise on Greenland halibut
6. Commission's support for CITES listing of Atlantic bluefin tuna over-ruled by EU Member States
7. EU initials new Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the Solomon Islands
8. The Community Fisheries Control Agency starts using electronic mesh gauge
9. EU and Norway agree on implementation of the EC's IUU catch certification scheme
10. Stop fishing notices were published for several fleet segments
11. Commissioner Borg defines future tasks for science in the marine environment

Fish hygiene

12. Thirty rapid alerts notices issued for fishery products in September 2009
13. The EU publishes new regulation on the food additives
14. Commission criticises draft CODEX food additives provisions
15. DG SANCO reports on Fiji; significant improvements but industry still not compliant
16. DG SANCO reports on Greenland; overall in line with EC requirements
17. DG SANCO reports on Benin; controls not equivalent to EC requirements
18. DG SANCO reports on Morocco; improvement in official controls but need for better documentation
19. DG SANCO reports on Togo; lobster controls satisfactory but smoked fish still not adequate
20. DG SANCO reports on Vietnam; overall controls adequate; some concerns regarding bivalve molluscs
21. DG SANCO reports on China; has not yet achieved equivalence with EC requirements
22. Commission publishes advice on actions following detection of nitrofurazone in shrimp.
23. Commission passes regulation allowing the use of probiotic bacteria in fish feeds
24. France organises conference on alternatives to live mouse bioassay
25. Commission launches external evaluation of inspection fees systems in Member States


1. Item 6 in August 2009 Edition of Fishfiles Lite should read as follows: 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.

Common Fisheries Policy

2. Member States of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) agreed in Rome to establish an international agreement on port state measures as part of the global fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The measures set minimum standards for port state control measures. The Agreement, which is the first major international instrument on fisheries management to be established since the adoption of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement in 1996, was welcomed by the European Commission.

3. Commissioner Borg delivered a speech to the EU Parliament's Fisheries Committee, outlining some of the possible features of a market-based approach to fisheries management of fishing effort and catches, based on transferable fishing rights. These could replace TAC and quota controls, with a system based on effort limits. He suggested a need to differentiate the approach for small scale fisheries, and to address concerns over relative stability by creating transferable rights in the first place by using existing stability keys. He also discussed the need to move management decision making closer to the fishery, perhaps by delegation of decisions to groups of Member States concerned with each fishery basin.

4. The European Commission proposed total allowable catches for Community fishing possibilities for the Baltic Sea in 2010. Cod stocks are recovering, and the Commission proposes an increase of 15 % (Eastern stock) and 9 % (Western stock). The Western herring stock still gives rise to concern and the Commission is proposing a 21 % reduction in fishing opportunities. The proposals will discussed at the October meeting of the EU Fisheries Council.

5. The annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) took place in Bergen, Norway. The parties agreed to extend conservation measures for several stocks, including cod, redfish, shrimp, Greenland halibut, white hake and skates. Whilst general satisfied with the decision, the Commission was disappointed that the precautionary approach was not applied to the management of the NAFO Greenland halibut stocks.

6. The Commission announced its support for Monaco's proposal for a CITES listing of the Atlantic bluefin tuna which will ban trade in this species. However, it then announced that EU Member States could not agree to back the proposal. The Commission continued to express concerns about the state of stocks of the fish and the great importance of ICCAT in assuming its responsibility to ensure the recovery of the stock. The proposal will considered by CITES, but without EU support, in March 2010.

7. The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, initialled a new Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the Solomon Islands. The new Partnership Agreement covers a period of 3 years and provides fishing possibilities for tuna for up to 4 EU vessels fishing in the waters of the Solomon Islands. No fishing possibilities for longliners are included. The annual reference tonnage is 4,000 tonnes of tuna species. The EU's annual financial contribution is EUR400,000, half of which is earmarked for support to responsible and sustainable fishing in Solomon Island waters.

8. The Community Fisheries Control Agency published an information notice to the fishing industry regarding the use of a new electronic tool (the omega gauge) for mesh size measurement of fishing nets. The new gauge allows for an objective measurement of the actual mesh size of fishing gear free of human influence. The CFCA has announced that in cases where the mesh size is only marginally below the applicable legal minimum, this might be attributed to a possible difference in measurement between the old manual and the new electronic mesh gauges. In these cases, as an interim measure, an official warning should be issued to the master of the inspected fishing vessel.

9. The Commission announced an agreement between the European Community and Norway regarding the implementation of the EC's IUU Regulation (1005/2008/EC). The parties agreed specific administrative arrangements concerning the catch certification scheme, and administrative cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing.

10. Due to expiry of quota, stop fishing notices were published for United Kingdom vessels fishing for blue whiting, Belgian vessels fishing for saithe, skates and rays, and common sole, Danish vessels fishing for ling, Spanish vessels fishing for roundnose grenadier, Dutch vessels fishing for red seabream, cod, and spurdog/dogfish, French vessels fishing for hake. Stop fishing notices were issued for all Member States except Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland establishing a prohibition of fishing for northern prawn in the NAFO area.

11. Commissioner Borg delivered a speech at the opening of the ICES Science Conference, setting out the importance of scientific evidence for the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy. He considered some of the issues related to the environmental pillar of the Integrated Maritime Policy and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, including how does one assess the current status of Europe's seas, and what is required to achieve a good environmental status. He outlined the important role of science in answering these questions and in identifying options for solutions, and monitoring progress.

Fish hygiene

12. In September 2009, rapid alerts notices issued by EC Member States for failure to comply with health conditions for bivalve molluscs and products in relation to 30 consignments of fishery products. These included consignments from China (frozen clams, frozen pink salmon, frozen Atlantic cod fillets), Vietnam (frozen squid, pangasius fillets), Bangladesh (frozen black tiger prawns), Indonesia (escolar fillets) and Sri Lanka (swordfish, fresh yellow fin tuna loin).

13. The EU has published the final version of the new framework Council Regulation on the use of additives in foods. The regulation sets the criteria for classifying compounds as permitted food additives, it harmonises the use of food colours in the Community, and provides for a risk-based approach to the inclusion of additives in a permitted lists. It also covers processing aids, provision for purity specifications and allows Member states to retain bans on the use of additives in certain foods. The regulation requires the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health to review all the existing food additive authorisations for technological necessity during a transitional period up to 20th January 2011, when the Community list of food additives will be finalised. However, existing additives will not be re-assessed for food safety risks.

14. The European Commission published its comments on the draft food additives provisions in the CODEX Standards for Fish and Fishery Products, to be discussed at the Codex Committee on Fish and Fishery Products (30th Session) Agadir, Morocco at the end of September 2009. Amongst other points raised, the Commission expressed concern that a technical justification for use of an additive should always be shown. The EU remains strongly opposed to the inclusion of authorised colours in unprocessed fish (including bivalve molluscs), and does not agree with the proposed use of certain anti-oxidants in frozen fish.

15. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for fishery products in Fiji, following its mission in June 2009. The findings indicate that there have been significant improvements in the system of official controls since the last SANCO mission in 2007. However, national legislation still did not describe requirements regarding contaminants, and there were remaining gaps in the knowledge of officials regarding Community requirements. There were significant non-compliances found in establishments and fishing vessels, including lack of temperature recording devices, structural deficiencies and inadequate HACCP plans. The report concludes that the Competent Authority is still not in a position to provide guarantees regarding equivalence with Community requirements.

16. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for bivalve molluscs products (scallops) in Greenland, following its mission in June 2009. The findings indicate that a new control system has been put in place by the Competent Authority (the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration) since the previous mission in 2008, which had highlighted major deficiencies. Legislation has been updated and is now equivalent to EC requirements. The biotoxin monitoring programme was upgraded and is considered to provide adequate guarantees. The use of a non-standard (but humane) methodology for the mouse bioassay was considered to be non-compliant, but with no impact on food safety, since the only risk was of false positive results. The control system was considered to be overall in line with EC requirements.

17. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for fishery products in Benin, following its mission in June 2009. This follows a previous mission in 2002. The findings indicate that there have been significant improvements in the organisation and functioning of the Competent Authority, the Direction de Peches. However a number of deficiencies had not been addressed in relation to the conditions at landing sites, application of HACCP conditions and controls on the use of additives. The mission team could not consider the controls equivalent to the EC requirements, and recommended that the CA submit a plan of corrective actions before it can be considered for listing under Annex 1 of Commission Decision 2006/766/EC.

18. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for fishery products in Morocco, following its mission in June 2009. This follows a previous mission in 2005. The findings indicate improvements in official controls in relation to legislative texts, improvements in infrastructure, particularly testing laboratories at the National Marine Research Institute, and installation of an information system for improved controls over the octopus fishery and exports. Generally, the controls for fishery products and bivalves are considered equivalent to the EC requirements, although there is a need for better documentation of procedures and corrective actions. There is also a need to ensure completion of the plan for accreditation of the laboratory testing methods for the bivalve monitoring programme.

19. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for fishery products in Togo, following its mission in June 2009. The findings indicate that there have been significant strengthening of official controls in relation to export of fresh lobster, but that suitable controls for smoked fish exports to the EC are not yet in place. There is a need to perform routine monitoring of drinking water quality, and introduce monitoring of heavy metals in crustacea and carcinogens in smoked fish. The CA is also recommended to ensure an improved control of imports from Ghana for re-export to the EC, and to ensure that hygiene standards in the production of smoked fish are maintained.

20. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for fishery and bivalve mollusc products in Vietnam, following its inspection mission in April 2009. The findings indicate that since the previous SANCO mission in 2007, there has been a significant strengthening of the system of official controls for fishery products. Legislation was found to be in line with EU requirements. Although the classification of bivalve production areas was considered to be equivalent, but some deficiencies were found in the monitoring programme, especially in relation to sampling in multi-species fisheries and sampling frequency. Previous recommendations regarding conditions at landing sites and on fishing vessels were not fully addressed, along with some shortcomings found in establishments. The Competent Authority (NAFIQAD) was found to be unable to guarantee that imported fishery products met Community requirements if they were to be re-exported to the EC. However, overall, the controls were considered adequate, albeit with some concerns regarding the heat treatment of bivalve molluscs and monitoring frequencies. The Commission requested the submission of a plan of corrective actions.

21. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published its report on the control system for wild and farmed fishery products in China, following its mission in May 2009. The findings indicate that the system of controls operated by the General Administration of Quality Supervision and Inspection (the central CA) is satisfactory in many aspects. However the controls in relation to inspection and listing of approved freezer and factory vessels and certification of products from them were inadequate. Also the mission found that there were no adequate controls on imported raw and semi-processed materials for re-processing for export to the EC, and that approved establishments were supplied with raw material from non-approved domestic sources. The mission concluded that China has not yet achieved full equivalence with EC requirements and requested the submission of plan of corrective actions.

22. The Commission published a flowchart to guide Border Inspection Posts in the Member States on how to proceed in case of findings of semicarbazide (the marker residue of nitrofurazone) in freshwater shrimp.

23. The European Commission passed a regulation allowing the use of the probiotic bacteria Pediococcus acidilactici as a feed additive in shrimp and salmonid feeds. This follows the EFSA finding that the bacteria does not have an adverse effect on animal health, human health or the environment. It also found that the use of the preparation can have beneficial effects, increasing the number of well-conformed salmonids and improving survivability and growth performance in shrimps.

24. The French Minister of Agriculture announced that it was organising a conference in September 2009 to examine the possibilities for alternative methods of shellfish toxin testing, other than the live mouse bioassay. The Commission indicated that it will rely on the opinions of the European Food Safety Authority on marine biotoxins:

25. The Commission reported on its launch of an external evaluation of inspection fees systems used by Member States. The findings will provide an insight to how fees are used by different Member States, and will be used to assess the future policy options in this area.

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