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October 2009

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU rejects EU-Guinea Fisheries Partnership Agreement following massacre
2. Commission passes detailed implementation rules for the IUU fishing regulation.
3. Commission also publishes handbook on implementation of the IUU fishing Regulation
4. Community Fisheries Control Agency adopts 2010 work programme; high priority on IUU fishing
5. Commission proposes the 2010 TACs for Atlantic and the North Sea
6. Commission proposes 2010 TACs for the Black Sea
7. EU Fisheries Council agrees 2010 TACs and quotas in the Baltic Sea
8. EU and NE Atlantic coastal states agree TACS for shared stocks of blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring
9. Commission publishes information note methods for setting total allowable catches and quotas
10. Commission grants EUR30 million to support Member States' fisheries control plans in 2009
11. Stop fishing notices published for a number of fleets
12. France Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries holds "Les Assises de la mer" on CFP reform
13. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries visits Sweden
14. Commission publishes Progress Report on Integrated Maritime Policy
15. Commission publishes proposals for strengthened maritime surveillance activities
16. EU grants a derogation for Greenland regarding origin of Northern shrimp exported to the EC
17. Commission agrees to contribute EUR50 million to the Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme

Fish hygiene

18. Rapid alerts notified for 40 consignments of fishery products during October 2009
19. SANCO holds conference on the RASFF system; greater transparency and involvement of stakeholders required
20. EFSA finds it is not able to establish safety of a new smoke flavouring material
21. Commission introduces emergency measures on import of crustacea from India; nitrofuran testing required
22. Commission discusses tighter rules for nitrites in fish meal
23. Commission discusses the import of fishery products from Indonesia

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Following a recommendation from the Commission, the EC Fisheries Council rejected a draft EU-Guinea Fisheries Partnership Agreement after the Guinean government's massacre of civilians in Conakry. The four year deal would have provided EUR450,000 a year in EU funding to develop Guinea's fisheries sector, and allowed EU vessels to fish in Guinean waters. An additional €1.6 million would also have been available to strengthen the monitoring, control and surveillance system in Guinea's fishing zone. Commissioner Borg said that it would have been "politically unacceptable" for the EU to proceed with a financial transfer to Guinea.

2. The Commission set the detailed implementation rules for the 2008 IUU fishing regulation The European Commission passed the much anticipated rules setting out the implementation arrangements for Council Regulation 1005/2008 on IUU fishing. The Regulation provides for a simplified catch certificate for fishery products consigned to the EC from a third country and validation at the time of export, when supplied by small scale vessels. Risk assessment criteria are set for the verification of catch certificates. RFMO certificates are recognised and shorter notice deadlines provided for consignments exported to the EC by air, road or rail. Conditions are set for the recognition and control of approved economic operators. The Regulation also amends the list of products exempted from the requirements for catch certification.

3. The Commission also published a handbook providing guidelines to the implementation of Regulation 1005/2008 on a community control system to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing. It explains the background to the Regulation, describes how the third country vessels are to be controlled when landing in the EC, and how the catch certification system should be operated, both by EC Member States and third countries supplying the Community market. Many of the points are explained in the form of questions and answers. The guide is clear in stating that unless a third country notifies the Commission of its Competent Authority responsible for validating catch certificates, then trade in fishery products with the EU would not be possible after the 1st January 2010. The Commission has also indicated that needs of third countries for specific assistance in the implementation of the regulation should be communicated to the Commission and will be assessed on their merit.

4. The Community Fisheries Control Agency adopted its work programme and budget for 2010, with a high priority on the fight against Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing using the new tools provided by the IUU fishing Regulation 1005/2008. An increased staff of five will work with Member states on the implementation of the Regulation. The Agency will also continue to coordinate control, inspection and surveillance activities and will participate in several Joint Deployment Plans (cod in the Baltic Sea, North Sea and Western Waters, bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic and NAFO and NEAFC RA).

5. The Commission proposed the 2010 total allowable catch (TAC) and fishing effort for fish stocks available to Community fishing vessels in the Atlantic and the North Sea, in line with scientific advice from the STECF and following discussions with Member States and the fishing sector on how to mitigate the economic impacts of the measures. The Commission points out that while 32 out of 34 assessed fish stocks were overfished in 2005, in 2009 the figure fell to 30 out of 35. However the state of some 57 stocks is unknown due to poor data. TACs for sole in the North Sea and Bay of Biscay will increase as will those for herring in the W. of Scotland. Continuing concerns regarding cod in the North Sea, eastern Channel and Skagerrak mean that TACs for this species will be reduced further. Reductions are also proposed for spurdog (spiny dogfish), haddock, Norway lobster, southern anglerfish, whiting, blue ling, are also proposed. The 2010 TACs and quotas will be decided by the Council of Ministers in a forthcoming meeting.

6. The European Commission proposed the fishing opportunities for the Black Sea for 2010, including a with a 25% reduction in the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for turbot, and an unchanged TAC for sprat (12,750 tonnes). The recommendations are based on scientific studies and the advice of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF).

7. The Fisheries Council of the EC met on 19 and 20 October and agreed on the fishing possibilities in the Baltic Sea for 2010. There will be a TAC increases of 15% and 9% for the eastern and western cod stocks respectively, but there will be reductions of 16.5% for the western herring stock, 12% for the central herring stock and 5% for sprat and for salmon. Council also passed the new fisheries control regulation, which will now come into force on 1st January 2010.

8. The Commission announced that Coastal States in the North East Atlantic had agreed on management measures for shared stocks of blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring for 2010. The TAC for blue whiting for 2010 will be reduced to 540,000 tonnes. (11% reduction) and the Community's final quota will be 162,000 tonnes. The parties also agreed on the TAC of 1,483,000 tonnes for the Atlanto-Scandian herring, of which the Community will receive a quota of 96,543 tonnes.

9. The European Commission published an information note setting out how total allowable catches and quotas for fishing opportunities are set in the European Union. Explains the role of scientific advice and the role of multi-annual and long term fisheries management plans.

10. The Commission has published a regulation setting out the financial support to be provided by the EU to Member States in implanting their fisheries control plans for 2009. Out of a total planned expenditure by Member States of EUR73 million, the EC will provide EUR30 million. Activities include investment in information systems and IT, vessels and aircraft, automatic localisation devices, electronic recording and reporting systems and pilot inspection and observer schemes.

11. Stop fishing notices were published for German vessels fishing for cod, French vessels fishing for tusk, Estonian vessels fishing for herring, Spanish vessels fishing for saithe and forkbeard, Swedish vessels fishing for saithe, spurdog/dogfish and common sole, French vessels fishing for herring and ling, and Portuguese vessels fishing for alfonsinos.

12. As part of the public consultation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Ministry for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries in Paris held "Les Assises de la mer", a one day conference attended by political leaders, fishermen's representatives, NGOs and scientists. The Conference was attended by Dr.Borg, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. In early 2010, the European Commission plans to produce conclusions on the general direction that the CFP reform could take, and following an impact assessment and further consultations with stakeholders, intends to produce a proposal for a new regulation to be presented to Council and the European Parliament in 2011, with a view to adoption before 2013.

13. Dr.Joe Borg, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, undertook a visit to Sweden, where he participated in the signature of a ministerial declaration - the Stockholm Declaration on the Management of Baltic Sea Fisheries, attended a conference "Baltic Sea Fisheries: Lessons Learned and Future Perspectives", and discussed the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy with the Swedish Parliamentary Committee on Fisheries and the Swedish Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries.

14. The European Commission published its Progress Report on the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP) since its inception two years ago. Six strategic axes are identified for the future; continued integration of maritime governance; development of cross-cutting policy tools; definition of limitations to maritime activities to guarantee sustainability; development of sea-basin regional strategies; development of the international dimension of the Integrated Maritime Policy; renewed focus on sustainable economic growth, employment and innovation. Alongside this, the Commission has also proposed greater integration of maritime surveillance and the international dimension of Europe's maritime policy.

15. The Commission published a press release setting out questions and answers regarding its proposals for strengthened surveillance of activities carried out at sea that impact the security, safety, economy, or environment of the EC and its Member States. The proposals set out the principles regarding an integrated approach to maritime transport, fisheries, border control, fight against illegal immigration, law enforcement at sea, defence, and protection of the environment.

16. The Commission passed a decision granting a request by Greenland for a derogation which will allow it to export to the EU at preferential tariff rates, an annual quantity of 2,500 tonnes of prepared and preserved shrimps and prawns of the species Pandalus borealis, which are derived from origins other than Greenland. The derogation will last until 31 December 2013.

17. The European Commission agreed to jointly fund a proposal on a Joint Baltic Sea Research Programme which will strengthen environmental research capacity for sustainable development of the region. The Commission proposes to contribute EUR50 million, with an equal sum to be allocated by eight EU Baltic Sea Member States (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden).

Fish hygiene

18. Rapid alerts were notified to the Commission for failure to comply with health conditions in 40 consignments of bivalve molluscs, cephalopods and other fishery products during the month of October 2009. They included consignments from Madagascar (frozen whole raw shrimps), India (frozen raw prawns, fresh shrimps), Gambia (frozen crustaceans), Namibia (frozen blue shark fins), Tanzania (Nile perch) and New Zealand (whole chilled snapper).

19. DG SANCO held a conference on the 30th Anniversary of the RASFF system. The Director General offered a number of conclusions to be adopted for the future, including the need for greater transparency, greater involvement of all stakeholders, and the need for regular high level meetings with other trading groups such as ASEAN, and MERCOSUR.

20. The Scientific Panel on Food Contact Material, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids of the European Food Safety Authority gave an opinion on the safety of a new smoke flavouring material "Fumokomp1" derived from distillation of pyrolised beech and hornbeam woods. The material gave a negative result in bacterial reverse mutation and mammalian chromosome aberration assays, but positive results in the mouse lymphoma test. The panel concluded that the substance is genotoxic in vitro, but not in vivo. However since the panel was not able to derive a NOAEL (No Observable Adverse Effect Level) for Fumokomp, no margins of safety could be determined. The panel concluded that the toxicological data do not enable the safety of Fumokomp to be established.

21. The Commission introduced emergency safeguard measures with regard to the import of shrimp and other crustacea from India, following the detection of nitrofurans and their metabolites in crustaceans from this source. Member States may only allow importation of crustaceans of aquaculture origin from India if accompanied by a test certificate (or if they are tested on arrival) to show that the concentration of nitrofurans or their metabolites is not in excess of the limit. All testing and storage during detention shall be at the cost of the importer.

22. The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health of the European Commission discussed the maximum levels for nitrites in fish meal, and agreed to modify the levels in a Commission Regulation.

23. The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health of the European Commission also discussed the import of fishery products from Indonesia following a number of RASFF notifications in recent months.


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