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April 2010

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission and the Spanish Presidency to hold conference on CFP reform
2. Commission strengthens bluefin inspection regime and sanctions
3. Tariffs eliminated for EC - Egypt fish trade
4. Commission and the Spanish Presidency to run seminars on fish marketing

Fish hygiene

5. Rapid alerts notified in April regarding 21 consignments of fishery products
6. Commission lifts heavy metal safeguards on fish products from Indonesia
7. Commission places veterinary drug safeguards on Indonesian fishfarm products
8. Commission discusses lifting safeguard measures on Albanian fishery products
9. DG SANCO publishes report on Gambia; complete absence of certain controls
10. DG SANCO publishes report on Japan; controls offer sufficient guarantees
11. DG SANCO publishes report on Nicaragua; cannot guarantee equivalence
12. DG SANCO publishes report on Bangladesh; significant improvements
13. Bangladesh lifts self-imposed export ban on aquaculture products to the EU
14. EFSA publishes scientific opinion on risks of Anisakis
15. Commission spends EUR15.4 million on Better Training for Safer Food
16. Commission holds food safety training in Peru
17. Commission introduces new certificates for trade in aquaculture animals
18. Commission approves measures for control of aquaculture diseases

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Commission and the Spanish Presidency announced a major stakeholder conference on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, to be held in Vigo in early May, along with a parallel informal meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers. At both events, the Commission will present the results of the public consultation on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and participants will discuss the options and fisheries policy orientations for the future.

2. The Commission passed a Decision amending the inspection regime established by the EU in response to the ICCAT Recommendation 08-05 regarding control and inspection of the Community's bluefin tuna fishery in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. The strengthened regime provides for more specific reporting details when infringements are detected, and requires that Member States act to prevent vessels which breach the regulations from continuing their fishing activity. New inspection report forms are also introduced.

3. The European Council ratified new reciprocal trade liberalisation measures between the EC and Egypt, in the form of new Protocols to the Association Agreement. The measures eliminate tariffs on all bilateral trade in fishery products, except for canned sardines and canned tuna.

4. The Commission and the Spanish presidency of the EU announced the presentation of two seminars for fishery sector stakeholders on the promotion of fishery and aquaculture products, to be held in Madrid. The seminars will deal with the promotion, image, and perception of fishery products in the EU, and the associated actions supported by the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), as well as investigating the trends and future prospects for fish supplies to the EU market.

Fish hygiene

5. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for one consignment of bivalve molluscs (Mytilus edulis from Denmark), one consignment of cephalopod molluscs (frozen Todarodes pacificus from China), three consignments of crustacea (frozen, peeled and cooked shrimps from India, prawns from Mozambique and cooked shrimps from Ecuador) and 17 consignments of other fish and fishery products (including fresh cod from Croatia, smoked salmon from Poland, tuna fillets in oil from Portugal, smoked sprats in oil from Latvia, and frozen sole from Netherlands. Two consignments of gastropods were also notified, from Nigeria and Togo.

6. The Commission passed a Decision lifting the remaining safeguard measures (regarding mandatory testing for heavy metals) applied to the import of fishery products from Indonesia. The Decision followed the provision by Indonesia to the Commission of appropriate guarantees and the favourable results of tests carried out by the Member States.

7. However, the Commission also passed a Decision applying new safeguard measures on Indonesian fishery products. This follows a mission by the DG SANCO to Indonesia in November 2009, which revealed shortcomings in the residue control system in aquaculture animals and farmed fishery products, and a lack of laboratory capacity for detecting residues of veterinary medicines. Member States are required to sample from at least 20 % of the consignments of Indonesian farmed fishery products presented for import, and test for chloramphenicol, nitrofurans, and tetracyclines, at the cost of the consignee or the importer. Consignments are to be detained pending satisfactory test results.

8. The Commission discussed the possibility of amending Commission Decision 2007/643/EC, which places safeguard measures on the import of certain fishery products implicated in histamine toxicity from Albania.

9. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to the Gambia in January 2010, with regard to official controls for fishery products exported to the EU. The mission found that whilst the Competent Authority had in place sufficient inspectors and an adequate legal framework (except for non-equivalent MRLs for some contaminants), there was an almost complete absence of controls on histamines, heavy metals and other contaminants. Microbiological testing was also limited and there was only limited monitoring of water supplies. There were significant deficiencies in hygiene conditions on vessels, at landing sites and in processing establishments. HACCP and traceability systems were also found to be inadequate. Laboratory testing facilities were not accredited and the results were considered to be not reliable. The mission concluded that the identified deficiencies severely compromised the control system, and recommended that the Competent Authority (Fisheries Department) submit a plan of corrective actions.

10. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Japan in January 2010, with regard to official controls for fishery products, fish oils and bivalve molluscs exported to the EU. The mission followed up on a previous inspection in 2005 which found serious deficiencies. The mission found that legislation was generally in line with EU requirements. However microbiological standards for E.coli in bivalve molluscs were not equivalent. A clear and auditable inspection and control system was in place, although 10 freezer vessels were found to be listed as approved without having been inspected. Furthermore no official controls were carried out on fishery products from freezer vessels. The mission concluded that the system of official controls in place offers sufficient guarantees regarding the health conditions of the products exported. However it also recommended a number of actions to be implemented to address the identified shortcomings and enhance the controls applied.

11. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Nicaragua in January 2010, with regard to official controls for fishery products exported to the EU. The mission followed up a previous inspection in 2006 which found a number of deficiencies. The mission found that legislation regarding sanitary conditions for fishery products was largely in line with EC measures, that the Competent Authority had introduced an auditable system of official controls, and that staff training and was adequate. However, the CA was not in a position to guarantee that imported raw materials used in fishery products for export were produced in conditions equivalent to the EC requirements. Some parts of the production chain were also found to be not in compliance with EC requirements. The CA was found not to have clearly defined procedures and deadlines for correction of non-compliances, and official controls were not carried out in relation to products from freezer vessels. Reliability of testing laboratories was undermined by the lack of accreditation to the ISO 17025 standard. The Competent Authority was recommended to supply the Commission with a plan of corrective actions to address the identified deficiencies.

12. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Bangladesh in January 2010, with regard to residue controls in aquaculture products. The mission found significant improvements since the previous mission carried out in 2008, with strengthened controls in primary production, and improved traceability conditions, including registration of shrimp farmers. There was still a need for further strengthening of controls at hatcheries and feed suppliers. Laboratory testing conditions were also found have major deficiencies in terms of validation of methods and lack of laboratory quality control and accreditation. The mission also found that the legal framework and controls for the distribution of veterinary medicines was still inadequate, especially at retail, feedmill and farm levels. These deficiencies undermined the control system, with the result that the conditions cannot be considered to offer guarantees at least equivalent to those expressed in EU legislation. The Competent Authority (Department of Fisheries of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock) was recommended to submit a plan of corrective actions.

13. Following the FVO findings, the Bangladeshi Competent Authority informed the Commission that it intended to lift the self-imposed suspension of exports of fishery products of aquaculture origin to the European Union.

14. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) Panel published a Scientific Opinion regarding food safety concerns due to allergic reactions to parasites in fishery products. The report concludes that the only parasite likely to cause allergic reactions is Anisakis, a parasitic worm whose larvae can be found in marine fish. Risk of allergy is considered to be higher in products containing live Anisakis larvae, with reactions which include gastroenteritis, rheumatological and dermatological symptoms. Freezing is found to be an effective measure to kill parasites (as required by EU regulations), but traditional marinating and cold smoking methods are not sufficient. No sea fishing areas can be considered free of Anisakis larvae. In farmed fish the risk that this fish may become infected is negligible (providing they are not fed feedstuffs containing live parasites).

15. The Commission published a Decision setting out the Community financial allocations to the Better Training for Safer Food Programme for 2010 (a total of EUR15.4 million).

16. The Commission held training courses on EU legislation for fishery and aquaculture products under the "Better Training for Safer Food Programme" in Lima and Paracas, Peru. Around 60 participants attended from across Spanish-speaking Latin America, drawn from national authority control staff as well as representatives of private sector organisations.

17. The Commission passed a Regulation introducing new certification requirements for intra- and extra- Community trade in live fish, eggs and gametes of aquaculture animals intended for farming, relaying areas, put-and-take fisheries, open ornamental facilities and restocking of wild fisheries.

18. The Commission passed a Decision approving national measures implemented by EC member States for limiting the spread of some important aquaculture diseases, and associated declarations of disease free territories.

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