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July 2010

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission counters EU Parliament claim that CFP reform does not address unfair competition from third countries
2. New EC and Solomon Islands Fisheries Partnership Agreement ratified
3. EU joins South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation
4. Commission report on news species potentially to be subject to fisheries management
5. EU adopts revised bluefin tuna catch documentation system, in line with ICCAT
6. Commission doubles 2010 allowable catch for sandeel to 400,000 tonnes.
7. Commission increases 2010/2011 allowable catch for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay to 15,600 tonnes
8. Commission allocates additional days at sea to Portuguese vessels
9. Commission modifies technical measures applied to trawl gear in the Baltic Sea
10. Commission passes regulation amending data structure for electronic logbooks.
11. Commission sets requirement for weighing of catches of southern mackerel and horse mackerel.
12. CFCA hosts seminar to strengthen Joint Deployment Plans
13. Commission contributes EUR29 million to fisheries data collection
14. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, visits Poland
15. New chairman of the EU's Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture

Fish hygiene

16. Thirty three rapid alerts notified in July 2010 for fishery products.
17. FVO reports on a mission to Denmark; some fundamental deficiencies detected
18. FVO reports on a mission to Chile; appropriate guarantees but some defects
19. FVO reports on a mission to Malaysia; significant improvements, but still with shortcomings
20. Commission extends testing safeguards on aquaculture products from India
21. Commission amends safeguard measures on shrimp from Bangladesh
22. DG SANCO updated its website on veterinary medicine controls
23. Commission launches new webpage OSHV-1 virus in oysters
24. EFSA publishes study on non dioxin-like PCBs; fish implicated and limits are being considered
25. EFSA publishes opinion marine brevetoxin; emerging risks but need analytical methods
26. EFSA considers red food colour Amaranth (E123); reduction in ADI recommended
27. EFSA gives green light for "Sardine Peptide Product"
28. Commission commences publication of animal welfare newsletter

Common Fisheries Policy

1. In a speech to the European Parliament, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs. Maria Damanaki defended the Commission's proposals for the reform of the Common Fisheries policy against Parliament's allegation that they did not take sufficient account of concerns expressed about unfair competition from third countries and the absence of a level playing field in terms of social conditions, environmental and sustainability requirements, and health protection laws in the fishery sector. Mrs Damanaki indicated the EU had changed the rules of international trade to help eliminate IUU fishing, and was working to actively promote the adoption of international principles and instruments of good maritime and fishery governance. She also indicated that the new market policy of the CFP should aim at strengthening producer organisations in their ability to better link supply to demand in terms of quality and volumes. She also indicated that requirements for marketing standards and information to consumers (for example in labelling) should be reviewed.

2. The European Council passed a decision ratifying a new Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol between the EC and Solomon Islands, which was initialled on 26 September 2009. Fishing opportunities are provided for up to 4 EU purse seine vessels. In return the EC provides an annual amount of EUR 260,000, equivalent to a reference tonnage of 4,000 tonnes per year, and a specific amount of EUR 140,000 per year for the support and implementation of Solomon Islands' sectoral fisheries policy. Fishing opportunities are allocated between Spain (with 75 % of fishing opportunities available) and France (with 25 %).

3. On behalf of the European Union, the Commission signed the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources of the South Pacific Ocean in Wellington, New Zealand. The Convention establishes the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) with a mandate to manage non-highly migratory fish species in the region, including deep sea fish stocks such as orange roughy. The Convention fills one of the remaining governance gaps for high-seas fisheries. The EU is the seventh party to sign the SPRFMO Convention (after Chile, Columbia, Cook Islands, Kingdom of Denmark in respect of Faroe Island, New Zealand and Peru).

4. The Commission has published the "NESPMAN" report "Improving the knowledge of the biology and the fisheries of the new species for management". The report presents the status of biological studies on species of increasing commercial importance in the ICES area. This includes sea bass, striped red mullet, red gurnard, tub gurnard, grey gurnard, John Dory, dab flounder, witch flounder, lemon sole, turbot and brill. The study considers the gaps in scientific knowledge that will need to be addressed if these species are to be brought within the scope of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the European Community (EC) and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) in 2004, regarding the species in the ICES fishing area for which recurring advice is requested by the Commission.

5. The EU passed a regulation implementing an ICCAT Recommendation from November 2009, which entered into force on 1 June 2010, and requires Member States to introduce a strengthened bluefin tuna catch documentation programme. Each consignment of this species placed on the market must now be accompanied by a completed bluefin tuna catch document validated by the relevant authority. Catch documents must be communicated electronically to the Commission and ICCAT within 5 days of issue.

6. The Commission adopted a Regulation to modify the 2010 fishing possibilities for sandeel in the North Sea and Skagerrak, following scientific advice that the North Sea TAC can be raised from 200,000 to 400,000 tonnes. The EU receives a 90% share of the North Sea TAC with the balance fished by Norway and Faroe Islands. A further 16,920 tonnes of sandeel can be fished from the EU waters of the Skagerrak.

7. Following the publication of new scientific advice which confirms that the stock is in a good state and above safe biological limits, the European Commission has increased the total allowable catch (TAC) of anchovy in the Bay of Biscay to 15,600 tonnes for the fishing season 1 July 2010 - 30 June 2011. The proposed TAC represents 30% of the estimated biomass, and will be available to fishermen from France (10%) and Spain (90%). The amendment has been made in close cooperation with stakeholders in the South Western Waters Regional Advisory Council (SWWRAC). The anchovy fishery in the Bay of Biscay was re-opened in December 2009, after a five-year closure.

8. The Commission has allocated additional fishing possibilities for Portuguese vessels over 10m in length operating in ICES Divisions VIIIc and IXa, in the form of an increase in days at sea (to 177 days/year). The increase is as a result of a reduction in fleet capacity since 2004 (by a total of 28 fishing vessels).

9. The Commission passed a regulation modifying the technical measures applied for the conservation of fishery resources in the Baltic Sea, the Belts and the Sound. New specifications are established for certain types of trawl gear.

10. The Commission has passed a regulation amending the requirements for the data structure and variables used in reporting of fishing activities by electronic logbooks.

11. Following discussions with Norway and Faroe Islands, the Commission has amended the requirements for the weighing of catches of mackerel and horse mackerel taken from the southern stock components. A requirement to keep a logbook of weighing events is also introduced.

12. The Community Fisheries Control Agency (CFCA) held a seminar on Joint Deployment Plans (JDPs) in which staff from different Member State fisheries control bodies participate in joint enforcement missions, with a view to finding ways to further improve their effectiveness. The Seminar concluded that regional control areas should be established, JDPs should be based on pre-agreed objectives, priorities and benchmarks, and that there should be a timely sharing and collection of data and intelligence.

13. The Commission set out the financial support to be provided by the community to EC Member States for the implementation of the fisheries data collection regulation. Out of a total eligible expenditure of EUR57.2 million by 18 Member States for 2009 and 2010, the EC will contribute EUR28.6 million.

14. On a visit to Poland, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs. Maria Damanaki set out proposed reforms in the Common Fisheries Policy and recognised the importance of the European Fisheries Fund in the modernisation of the Polish fisheries sector. She indicated that Poland will receive 40% of the overall EFF budget for Axis 4 (i.e. sustainable development of fisheries dependent regions). She also set out the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region and the implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy in that region.

15. Mr Gerard van Balsfoort was appointed as the new chairman of the EU's Advisory Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture (ACFA) until 2013. ACFA provides a forum for ongoing policy dialogue between the Commission and the industry.

Fish hygiene

16. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for three consignments of bivalve molluscs, including from France (oysters) and USA (scallops), four consignments of crustaceans including from Croatia (rose shrimps ), Bangladesh (frozen prawns, freshwater shrimps, frozen raw shrimps), and twenty five consignment of other fishery products including Morocco (alice shad fillets in sunflower seed oil), France(fresh red gurnard ), USA(anglerfish), Ivory Coast(tuna in olive oil), China (frozen Alaska pollock fillets). A non-compliant consignment of whelks from Netherlands was also notified.

17. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Denmark in March 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The mission found that the official controls undertaken by the Central Competent Authority (the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration) are in general performed in line with EC requirements and as described in the Danish Multi Annual National Control Plan. However there were some deficiencies detected. Sampling schemes for fishery products did not cover all parameters required under Community Regulations. There was no official testing of water in establishments, and there was only limited testing of ice used to chill fish. The food business operators own control programmes were not fully compliant with Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point principles, and did not cover all production. HACCP plans were not always fully implemented. The report makes a number of recommendations, aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified and enhancing the control measures in place.

18. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Chile in April/ May 2010, with the objective of evaluating the public health conditions for the production of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that the control system implemented by the Competent Authority offers appropriate guarantees concerning the sanitary conditions of bivalve molluscs and fishery products for European Union export. However, there were some areas in which the system was not fully compliant, in particular concerning the classification and frequency of monitoring of productions areas, and in the laboratory analysis methods used for assessing microbiological status. Organoleptic checks were not in line with EU requirements and one establishment (out of 11 visited) was identified with serious deficiencies. The Commission sought guarantees that the deficiencies would be addressed in a plan of corrective actions.

19. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Malaysia in April/ May 2010, with the objective of evaluating the public health conditions for the production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union. The mission followed previous missions in April 2008 (after which Malaysia voluntarily suspended exports of fishery products to the EU) and in March 2009 (after which a number of aquaculture product establishments were re-listed for supply to the EU market). The mission found significant improvements in the system of official controls. However, some shortcomings were still evident, especially in relation to vessel inspections, weak follow up on non-compliances detected during inspections, lack of adequate sampling for histamine testing and lack of adequately trained inspectors. The report makes a number of recommendations aimed at rectifying the shortcomings and requires the Competent Authority to submit a plan of corrective actions.

20. The Commission passed a Regulation setting out extended safeguard measures to be applied on the import by the Community of aquaculture products for human consumption from India. Following the results of a Commission inspection to India in September 2009 which revealed shortcomings as regards the residue control system in aquaculture products and a lack of appropriate laboratory capacity for detecting residues of veterinary drugs, as required by Directive 96/23/EC, a requirement to test all shrimp consignments from this source was introduced. Pending evaluation of a new residue monitoring plan, the Commission has now extended the requirement for mandatory testing for the presence of nitrofurans or their metabolites to all consignments of aquaculture products.

21. The Commission also passed a Decision amending the safeguard measures applied on shrimp products imported from Bangladesh. A Commission inspection to Bangladesh in January 2010 revealed that the previously identified lack of appropriate laboratory capacity for the testing of certain residues of veterinary medicinal products in live animals and animal products still persists. The import of consignments of this product, will be permitted providing they are accompanied by a test certificate which indicate that they have been tested for chloramphenicol, tetracycline, oxytetracycline, chlortetracycline, metabolites of nitrofurans, and malachite green and crystal violet and their respective metabolites. Member States are also required to ensure that 20% of the imported consignments are sampled and tested in Community laboratories (and are detained pending test results).

22. DG SANCO of the European Commission updated its website with regards to information about the controls for residues of veterinary medicines in consignments of foods of animal origin imported from third countries.

23. The Commission also launched a new webpage regarding the OSHV-1 virus, being a cause of increased mortalities of oysters in the EU in 2008 and 2009. The site includes links to EU Member State web pages in Ireland, France Netherlands and UK (the most affected states) where more information is provided regarding containment areas, areas where the absence of OsHV-1 µvar has been demonstrated, areas which previously have been subject to containment measures, and areas covered by programmes for the early detection of OsHV-1.

24. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a detailed study on non dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (NDL-PCBs) in foods. The study reviews data from tests on a total of 11,214 food and 1,349 feed samples collected from 18 EU Member States, Iceland and Norway between 1999 and 2008. The study shows that, as with dioxin- like PCBs, fishery products, fish meal and fish oils are the foods most implicated, and that NDL-PCBs can be present in levels up to 6 times higher than dioxin like PCBs. Furthermore, following recent studies, some non dioxin-like PCBs (which do not share the toxocological characteristics of dioxins) have been shown to elicit neurological, endocrine, immunological and carcinogenic effects. Several international agencies classify PCBs as probably carcinogenic to humans. Following scientific advice from EFSA, the Commission has announced that it is currently discussing setting maximum levels for the sum of the six indicator NDL-PCBs in food and feed.

25. The EFSA also published an opinion on the food safety risks associated with brevetoxin-(BTX) group toxins (marine biotoxins which can accumulate in shellfish and fish, primarily produced by a dinoflagellate Karenia brevis. The study found that to date BTX-group toxins have not been reported in shellfish or fish from Europe. However, BTX-group toxin producing algae have been discovered and the expansion of algal blooms suggests that BTX-group toxins could also emerge in Europe. Currently there are no regulatory limits and more work is required to assess what they should be. EFSA recommends that there is a need to validate a test method based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) methods.

26. The European Food Safety Authority's Scientific Panel on additives, the ANS Panel, has assessed the safety of the red food colour Amaranth (E123) which is sometimes used to colour fish roe preparations in the EU. The panel concluded that the colour is neither genotoxic nor carcinogenic, but recommended lowering the acceptable daily intake to a level of 0.15 mg per kg body weight per day.

27. Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) reported on its assessment of the safety of a "Sardine Peptide Product" (a food supplement derived from sardine muscle), as a food ingredient. The Panel considers that there is no evidence for safety concerns for adults, children or pregnant and lactating women.

28. The European Commission commenced publication of a new newsletter on animal welfare, following the introduction of animal's rights as "sentient beings" under Article 13 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which came into force last December. The EU is now obliged to take animal welfare fully into account in policies relating to agriculture, fisheries, transport, internal market, research and technological development.

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