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November 2009

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Council of Fisheries Ministers approves new fisheries control regulation; new points system for serious infringements
2. EU to include new technical measures on the 2010 TACs and quotas regulation
3. ICCAT approves sustainable TACs for Eastern bluefin tuna and new measures for Mediterranean swordfish
4. CCAMLR to establish a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in international waters near the South Orkney Islands
5. Commission indicates possible exemptions for small scale fisheries in potential future rights based fisheries
6. EU revises autonomous customs tariffs for the import of wide range of fishery products
7. European Commission and Norway seeking agreement on access arrangements for mackerel
8. Council of Fisheries Ministers approves TACs for turbot in the Black Sea
9. Commission signs four administrative IUU cooperation agreements with New Zealand, Canada, Iceland and the United States
10. Stop fishing notices published for several fleet segments
11. Commission adopts reduced guide prices for 2010
12. New RFMO to be established for non-tuna fish stocks in the South Pacific
13. Commission suspends fisheries payment of EUR 1.5 million to murderous regime in Guinea
14. EU bans import and sale of seal products, other than from traditional hunts

Fish hygiene

15. Rapid alerts were notified for 32 consignments of fishery products in November 2009
16. EFSA publishes a study on aquatic environmental safety of plant protection products
17. Commission approves alternative to the live mouse bioassay for biotoxin test

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Council of Fisheries Ministers, on 20th October 2009, approved the new fisheries control regulation, which will now come into force on 1st January 2010. This replaces the current regime which dates back to 1993 and has been much amended. In advance of the publication of the final text of the regulation to reflect the agreements of the Ministers, the Commission has published questions and answers regarding the new Regulation. The new approach features a requirement for systematic risk analysis in determining control activities, greater reliance on use of modern data-processing and communications technologies, and harmonised sanctions between Member States to encourage a culture of compliance. The powers of the Community Fisheries Control Agency will be extended, allowing its inspectors to carry out inspections on their own initiative without prior notification to Member States. Where failings are detected, the Member State will be given the opportunity to remedy the situation through an action plan drawn up in collaboration with the Commission. A points system for serious infringements will be established, which can result in suspension and withdrawal of fishing licences for persistent offenders. In the course of discussions the EU Fisheries Ministers agreed that, under the new Regulation, catches by recreational fishermen will not be counted against the national quota of Member States.

2. At the Fisheries Council meeting of 20th November, Ministers agreed to retain the revised technical measures contained in the draft 2010 TACs and quotas regulation, despite demands from some Member States for more time to assess their impacts. These measures include closed areas, the obligation to use sorting grids and square mesh panels, a ban on high-grading in the North Sea and the Atlantic, provisions to protect elasmobranchs and additional controls on gillnets. Following the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty from 1st December 2009, the finalisation of the 2010 TACs and quota measures will now be subject to a co-decision procedure with the European Parliament, under the Spanish Presidency.

3. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT), which met in Brazil, adopted a number of new multiannual management plans including a recovery plan aimed at Eastern bluefin tuna, whose total allowable catch (TAC) for 2010 has been reduced to 13,500 tonnes (as compared to 22,000 tonnes in 2009), for the first time in line with scientific advice. In addition, the fishing season for purse seiners will be reduced to one month (15 May to 15 June) and the option to extend the fishing season by derogation for bad weather will be abandoned. The EU has asked other Contracting Parties to reduce capacity by 50% by 2011. The option will also remain to suspend the fishery in case new scientific assessments show in the course of next year that there is a serious threat of fishery collapse. ICCAT also approved additional management measures to protect juvenile Mediterranean swordfish, and foresees the adoption of a long-term management plan for this species during the course of 2010.

4. Following a joint EU-United Kingdom proposal, the CCAMLR has agreed to establish a Marine Protected Area (MPA) near the South Orkney Islands, the first time that a regional fisheries management organisation has designated a Marine Protected Area on the high seas under its competence. The CCAMLR also adopted a conservation measure on systematic observer coverage for the krill fishery, but did not approve the EC's proposals for a stricter regime of controls against IUU fishing.

5. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Dr.Joe Borg gave a speech in the Canary Islands on how the CFP reform process will affect the outermost regions of the EC (Canary Islands, French DOM, and Azores and Madeira). He outlined the Commission's proposals for rights based management, but emphasized the need for safeguards to ensure the survival of small scale fisheries, and especially those linked to the social fabric of outermost regions. He indicated that the policy could consider a separate block of rights tradeable only within the outermost region concerned, or ring fence some fleet segments from the allocation of tradeable rights, or provide only time limited transferable rights in some fisheries.

6. Following further decreases in the EC self-sufficiency rate for fishery products, to 36 % in 2009, the EU has revised the autonomous customs tariffs for the import of reduced duty or duty free products from any origin, to ensure adequate supplies for processing and to market. The autonomous quotas include cod, herring, blue grenadier, hake, anchovies, squid, arctic shrimp, surimi, and Alaskan pollack.

7. The European Commission indicated that it has not so far been able to reach agreement with Norway, regarding Norwegian access to mackerel fisheries in EU waters for 2010. However further bilateral discussions will take place at the beginning of December.

8. Fisheries Ministers agreed on a TAC of 96 tonnes for turbot (Psetta maxima) in the Black Sea. This will be shared equally between Bulgaria and Romania, with fishing for turbot not authorised before 15 February 2010, a ban for turbot fishing from 15 April to 15 June, a minimum landing size of 45 cm and the use of a 400 mm minimum legal mesh size.

9. The European Commission signed four administrative cooperation agreements with New Zealand, Canada, Iceland and the United States, which aim to support efforts to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The accords ensure recognition of equivalence with the controls of these third countries laid down in the European Regulation on IUU fishing.

10. Stop fishing notices were published for Maltese vessels fishing for bluefin tuna, Danish vessels fishing for spurdog/dogfish, Dutch vessels fishing for anglerfish, United Kingdom vessels fishing for herring and porbeagle, Greek vessels fishing for bluefin tuna, and Spanish vessels fishing for deep-sea sharks.

11. The European Commission adopted its annual proposal on guide prices for 2010 for fresh and frozen fisheries products, as well as the EU producer price for tuna for processing. The guide prices determine the level at which market support will be provided for withdrawal of fishery products. In general, due to falls in fish prices at first sale in 2009, the Commission proposes to decrease guide prices for white fish and crustacean species, by between 1 % and 6 %.

12. The European Commission welcomed the adoption of a Convention for the setting up of a new regional fisheries management organisation (RFMO), to manage non-tuna fish stocks in the South Pacific. The fish species to be regulated under the new Convention are demersal and pelagic resources, including jack mackerel, orange roughy, oreos, alfonsino, and bluenose..

13. Following the decision last month by the European Commission not to ratify a fisheries partnership agreement with Guinea, the Commission proposed denouncing the agreement which, by virtue of a Council Decision of May 2009, has been in provisional force since 1 January 2009. The Commission has also decided to suspend the associated payment of EUR 1.5 million to Guinea, in response to a massacre of civilians by the military government.

14. The EU passed a Council Regulation restricting the sale of seal products on the EC market. As from August 2010, only seal products from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and other indigenous communities and which contribute to their subsistence will be allowed entry to the EC. Member States shall set dissuasive penalities for infringement.

Fish hygiene

15. Rapid alerts were notified during November 2009 for failure to comply with health conditions for 32 consignments of fishery products. These included consignments from Greenland (frozen snow crabs, chilled salted Atlantic cod), Namibia (blue shark, swordfish steaks), Croatia (fresh amberjack), China (frozen Alaska pollock fillets, red peeled shrimps) and Philippines (yellow fin tuna loins).

16. The European Food Safety Authority published a study by Cambridge Environmental Assessments regarding the methods of assessing impacts of pesticides on aquatic invertebrates (except crustacea). This reviews published methodologies and protocols for assessing acute and chronic toxicity of pesticides, and will help in the risk assessment of the environmental safety of plant protection products in future.

17. The Commission decided to approve a draft Commission Regulation which will amend Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005 as regards recognized testing methods for detecting marine biotoxins in live bivalve molluscs. This will allow the use of alternatives to the live mouse bioassay for the detection of certain biotoxins.

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