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October 2010

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission announces open conference on CFP reform - 16 November 2010
2. Commission orders Ostend fish auction; repay EUR4 million in illegal subsidies
3. Commission investigates fishermen's insurance subsidies by Finland
4. EU to limit catches of deep sea species in international waters of NE Atlantic
5. EU to adopt "cautious approach" in 2011 EU-Norway fisheries negotiations
6. CFCA seeks budget of EUR8.85 million for 2011.
7. Commission updates IUU compliance guidance materials
8. EU to improve coordination of maritime controls
9. Commissioner Damanaki to seek better Greek-Turkish maritime cooperation
10. Commissioner Damanaki to seek EUR50 million for Maritime Policy up to 2013.
11. EU ratifies Coastal Zone Management Protocol for Mediterranean
12. Commission increases Cape Verde tariff quotas for 2010
13. Commission grants EUR15.5 million for fisheries data collection
14. Additional days at sea for Portuguese trawl vessels
15. Belgian vessels to stop fishing for common sole
16. EU Conference discusses research and policy needs for "blue future"
17. Commissioner Damanaki campaigns for EU observer status at Arctic Council.

Fish hygiene

18. In October 2010, SANCO issues 63 rapid alert notices for fishery products
19. DG SANCO reports on Bulgaria; National Veterinary Service fails to comply
20. DG SANCO reports on Gabon; deficiencies, but with limited impact
21. DG SANCO reports on bivalve controls in Canada; controls not fully equivalent
22. DG SANCO reports on Greenland; considered in line with EU requirements
23. DG SANCO reports on Poland; some deficiencies in controls
24. Commission removes restrictions on entry of Serbian fishery products to the EU
25. Commission de-lists several approved establishments in the Gambia
26. Commission extends restrictions on Peruvian bivalves until November 2011
27. EFSA reports on rancidity in fish oils; no information on negative health effects
28. Ireland, France experience outbreaks of Oyster herpesvirus
29. Spain and Italy report outbreaks of the oyster disease Bonamia
30. Commission works on revised list of species subject to aquatic animal diseases
31. EFSA reports on methodology for environmental risk assessment of pesticides

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission announced that an open conference on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy will be held in Brussels (Charlemagne building,) on 16 November 2010. The Commission will make presentations on CFP reform based on the themes of: stakeholders' involvement; individual transferable rights; discarding; innovation, greening and the social dimension; women and coastal area development; sustainable aquaculture; consumers; and the Mediterranean.

2. The Commission published its decision following its investigation into a state aid scheme launched by the Government of Belgium, which over several years subsidised the restructuring and recapitalising of the loss making Ostend Fish Auction. In a 36 page decision the Commission decided that subsidies of EUR4.0 million in the form of capital and loans, EUR 4.3 million in the form of free loan guarantees, and rent free use the Ostend fish auction were incompatible with the EU's internal market and distorted patterns of trade in fishery products. The Government of Belgium was instructed to recover the aid, with interest, within 4 months.

3. The Commission announced another investigation into a state aid scheme launched by the Government of Finland to provide subsidies from public funds for up to 90% of insurance claims paid out to fishers. The Commission has issued a public invitation for interested parties to submit evidence regarding the scheme.

4. The Commission announced that it will seek to prevent any increase in TACs for deep sea species in international waters of the North-East Atlantic during 2011-2012, pending scientific advice. The Commission also announced that it aims to phase out fishing for deep-sea sharks and orange roughy, at least until better evidence regarding by-catches becomes available.

5. EU Fisheries Ministers discussed the future of the EU-Norway fisheries relations and favoured a "cautious approach" on the level of TACs for jointly managed joint stocks in the North Sea and the use of EU stocks for the reciprocal exchange of quotas. The first round of consultations with Norway will take place from 17 to 19 November in Brussels.

6. The Community Fisheries Control Agency, based in Vigo, adopted its multi-annual workplan for 2011-2015. The plan focuses on "Operational Coordination" through the implementation of joint deployment plans and "Capacity Building" helping Member States develop systems for effectively sharing and collecting data and intelligence. The CFCA also adopted its budget of EUR8.85 million for 2011.

7. The European Commission has updated its web-based guidance materials on the implementation of the IUU Regulation 1005/2008. This includes a new edition of the "Handbook on the practical application of the IUU Regulation".

8. The Commission has announced steps to improve coordination of controls across all maritime sectors by relevant Member States' authorities, such as coast guards, traffic monitoring, environmental monitoring, pollution prevention, fisheries, border control, tax and general law enforcement authorities, as well as navies. A key first step will be to establish the legal and institutional basis for electronic exchange of maritime information across sectors and borders.

9. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech at Istanbul Technical University, in which she outlined the EUs integrated maritime policy and issues to be addressed in the reform of the CFP. She also set out the importance of stronger EU-Turkish cooperation for improved fisheries and maritime governance in the Mediterranean and Black Sea and announced the intention to press for future funding for maritime cooperation between Greece and Turkey in the framework of the EU's cross-border regional policy.

10. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech on the EU's Integrated Maritime Policy at 2010 General Assembly of the CPMR (Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions) held in Aberdeen. She announced a financial programme for implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy of EUR50 million during 2011-13.

11. The EU Council adopted a decision to ratify the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management under the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean. The Protocol will commit Member States to the design and implementation of measures laid down in the ICZM Protocol, such as the establishment of zones where construction is not allowed.

12. The Commission passed a regulation which modifies the terms of the derogation granted to Cape Verde regarding the rules of origin for fishery products applicable to GSP tariff preferences. In 2008 and 2009, the EU allowed import of non-originating mackerel fillets (1,000 tonnes) and frigate mackerel (350 tonnes) at preferential rates. Following a request from the Cape Verde Authorities, these quantities have been increased for 2010 only, to 2,500 tonnes and to 875 tonnes respectively.

13. The Commission passed a Decision allocating financial support of EUR15.5 million to France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, for the implementation of the EU's fisheries data collection regulation.

14. The Commission has decided to re-allocate additional days at sea to Portuguese trawl vessels >10m as a result of a permanent withdrawal of fishing effort from this fleet.

15. A stop fishing notice was published for Belgian vessels, establishing a prohibition of fishing for common sole in VIIIa and VIIIb effective from 31 October 2010.

16. The European Commission supported an international conference on 'EurOCEAN 2010: Grand challenges for marine research in the next decade' held in Ostend. The conference discussed the maritime research and policy needs for a "blue future" to act as "a trigger for smart growth and jobs". European Commissioners Maria Damanaki (Maritime Affairs and Fisheries) and Máire Geoghegan-Quinn (Research, Innovation and Science) participated with key note speeches.

17. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech at the Arctic Futures Symposium in Brussels. She outlined the strategic role of the EU in the Arctic region. The European Commission has requested that the EU becomes a permanent observer at the Arctic Council. The Commissioner considered that common interests in fisheries, trade, research and environmental policy make the EU a natural partner for the Arctic Council.

Fish hygiene

18. In October 2010, DG SANCO of the Commission issued rapid alert notices for failure to comply with health conditions in respect of 13 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 3 consignments of cephalopods, 5 consignments of crustacean, and 42 consignments of other fishery products. They included clams and mussels from Spain and Turkey, cuttlefish and prawns from India, and tinned anchovies and tuna from Peru.

19. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Bulgaria in June 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 Competent Authority (the Veterinary Public Health Directorate, under the National Veterinary Service) did not undertake any sanitary inspections on fishing vessels, at landing sites or at aquaculture farms. The mission also found that important food safety risks were not addressed in the system of official controls (establishments processing fish which can produce histamine were considered by the CA to be low risk). A non- standard method was used by the National Veterinary Laboratory for histamine testing. Many important parameters were not tested in the monitoring programme, and sampling and analysis methods were not in compliance. Several serious deficiencies were identified in establishments (and not recorded by the Competent Authority), including in relation to HACCP systems. One establishment, which produced canned fishery products, did not comply with the time/ temperature parameters established for sterilization. The mission concluded that the system of controls in this EU Member State could not be considered compliant with EU regulations.

20. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Gabon in July 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products, destined for export to the EU. The mission followed on from a previous inspection in 2007, which revealed several deficiencies in legislation, official controls and testing laboratories. The mission found that the system of official controls implemented by the Competent Authority (DG Fisheries and Aquaculture) could still not be considered fully in compliance with the conditions set out in EU legislation. Important defects in establishments and vessels were not identified by the Competent Authority and laboratory test results could not be considered reliable. However the impact of the deficiencies was limited by the restriction of exports to sea frozen whole shrimp.

21. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Canada in September 2009, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production of live bivalve molluscs for export to the and export the EU market. The mission found that the Canadian system differs from Community requirements, as regards classification of harvest areas (based on testing of quality of water quality rather than shellfish meat). There is no routine or universal monitoring of harmful phytoplankton. The routine sampling and monitoring of marine biotoxins does not extend to lipophilic toxins. The laboratory detection methods for E.coli, Salmonella and lipophilic toxins used in Canada are not in accordance with (or validated against) the Community reference methods. Therefore whilst a detailed control system is in place, the mission made several recommendations with regard to ensuring equivalence to conditions required by EU regulations.

22. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Greenland in June 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the export to the EU of fishery products. The Competent Authority is the Danish Veterinary and Food Authority. The mission found that there were a number of deficiencies in HACCP plans in some establishments and that in some cases raw material temperatures were not properly recorded and were not in compliance with EU requirements. Certifications procedures were found to allow officers to sign certificates for consignments which they had not inspected. The report concludes that apart from the deficiencies noted, the system of official controls of the fishery products production chain can be considered to be in line with the European Union sanitary requirements.

23. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Poland in June 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 Competent Authority functions are shared by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Health. The mission found that small fishing vessels were not regularly inspected Some deficiencies concerning hygiene of operations in processing establishments were noted, but HACCP plans were found to be correctly implemented. There was a lack of official controls for histamine and for Listeria monocytogenes in ready to eat smoked fishery products. The laboratories responsible for official analyses on fishery products, water and ice, were accredited and, other than histamine tests, performed analyses according to European Union requirements. The report concludes that the observed deficiencies should be addressed within the frame of an agreed plan of corrective actions

24. The European Commission passed a Decision amending the sanitary conditions attached to the entry of Serbian fishery products to the EU market. Following the findings of a DG SANCO mission, which found the controls to be equivalent to those described in EU legislation, the restriction which limits imports of whole fresh fish from wild seawater catches is removed. All fishery products may now be imported. The list of third countries under Commission Decision 2006/766/EC was amended accordingly.

25. The Commission decided to de-list several establishments approved for the processing of fishery products in the Gambia, following the findings of the FVO inspection mission in January 2010.

26. The Commission decided to extend, until 30 November 2011, its Decision 2008/866/EC, which prohibits the import of certain bivalve molluscs intended for human consumption from Peru. Although Peru has informed the Commission that it has put in place additional control measures, following the supply of bivalve molluscs which caused an outbreak of Hepatitis A in the EU in 2008, the Commission decided that it should verify these controls with an inspection mission in Peru before lifting the ban.

27. Following a request from the European Commission, EFSA published a scientific opinion on food safety of fish oil for human consumption, including consideration of rancidity factors. Biological food safety risks are considered to be negligible. The study found that due to lack of evidence, no qualitative or quantitative risk assessment of chemical hazards in relation to rancidity of fish oil intended for human consumption could be carried out. It indicated that peroxide and the anisidine values are the most reliable chemical methods for measuring rancidity. However there is no comprehensive information about the potential negative health effects of individual oxidation products originating from refined fish oil. Current knowledge does not allow setting or recommending maximum acceptable values for these two indexes. There is therefore no evidential basis for establishing rancidity limits in fish oils for human consumption.

28. Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and UK reported on the status of Ostreid herpesvirus outbreaks in oyster stocks. Ireland and France have experienced significant outbreaks in 2010.

29. Spain and Italy informed the Commission regarding recent outbreaks of the oyster disease Bonamia exitiosa in oysters from a farm in Italy.

30. The Commission informed Member States regarding the updating of the list of species susceptible to aquatic animal diseases as listed in Council Directive 2006/88/EC, and the ongoing collaboration on this matter with the World Organisation for animal health (OIE).

31. The European Food Safety Authority published a scientific opinion on the methodology for environmental risk assessment in the application of plant protection products, in advance of the expected revision of the Commission's Guidance Documents on Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecotoxicology. The opinion recommends that there should be clearer, explicit framework for deriving specific environmental protection goals, and that these should be based on the ecological entity that is to be protected, the attributes of that entity to be protected, the magnitude of effect that can be tolerated, the temporal scale of effect, the spatial scale of the effect, and the degree of certainty that the specified level of effect will not be exceeded.

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