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May 2011

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission consults Fisheries Ministers on Fisheries Partnership Agreements
2. Commission to apply MSY and precautionary approach in setting 2012 TACs
3. EU launches new control and inspection regime for EU pelagic fisheries
4. Commission inspects Italian drift net operations
5. CFCA launches Joint Deployment Plan for 2011 bluefin tuna fishery
6. Libyan tuna fishing in 2011 considered to be illegal by EU
7. DG MARE publishes updated list of IUU certification notifications
8. 2011 TACs and quotas amended
9. Mediterranean RFMO accepts Commission's proposals on coral and monk seals
10. Stop fishing notices published for sandeel, mackerel, and megrim.
11. Interim Evaluation of the European Fisheries Fund finds 33% of budget spent
12. Cape Verde gets quota tariff extension for non-originating frigate tuna
13. EU and São Tomé and Príncipe implement new fisheries access protocol
14. European Parliament sets conditions for renewal of EU Mauritania FPA
15. New Protocol adopted under the EU-Comoros Fisheries Partnership Agreement
16. European Parliament seeks measures to help fish sector with fuel price rises
17. Commissioner Damanaki speaks on the evils of discards
18. Commissioner Damanaki promises reformed CFP will be fit for the 21st Century.
19. Commissioner Damanaki speaks on sustainability during Brussels Green Week
20. Commission publishes Edition 51 of "Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe"
21. Official: "Zator Carp" is now a protected designation of origin!

Fish hygiene

22. Rapid alerts notified for 53 consignments of fishery products in April 2011
23. DG SANCO reports on fish product controls in Sweden; no control in some areas
24. DG SANCO reports on fish product control in Mauritania; significant deficiencies
25. Commission proposes new sanitary certificate for imports from freezer vessels
26. DG SANCO reports on smoked fishery products in Germany
27. Joint Research Centre publishes report on detection of fraud in fish products
28. Commission publishes list of approved smoke flavours
29. Commission proposes amendments to OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code
30. DG SANCO publishes videos promoting Better Training for Safer Food
31. Commission considers UK surveillance programme for Ostreid herpesvirus
32. Finland declares areas free of the VHS disease of salmonids

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commissioner Damanaki hosted a meeting of Fisheries Ministers from 17 countries and territories which have Fisheries Partnership Agreements with the EU, in Africa, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean and Greenland. The meeting discussed the future approach under a reformed CFP. The Commission indicated that despite some problems, these Agreements have provided a win-win deal for the parties, and that they will be retained in future. However, there is a need to improve scientific knowledge of fishery resources and transparency regarding other fishing activities in the countries' EEZ, and these conditions should be a strict requirement for each negotiation. In addition there is a need for better governance during their implementation. In particular it is proposed that sector support payments granted by the EU be more directly linked to the achievement of agreed results.

2. The European Commission published a report on the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and its approach to the setting of fishing opportunities in EU waters in 2012. The state of fish stocks in European waters is slowly improving, but there is still inadequate reporting by Member States. The Commission proposes to commence the application of maximum sustainable yield targets, and to apply the precautionary approach, thus cutting quotas in 2012 where insufficient data exist to guarantee sustainable fishing.

3. The Commission passed a Decision setting out a new regime for control and inspection in EU fisheries for herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, anchovy and blue whiting stocks. The measure requires Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Spain, France, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, and the United Kingdom to implement common rules for the control and inspection activities throughout the whole supply chain, including trade. It also requires joint inspection and surveillance activities between Member States, to be applied up to end of December 2012.

4. The European Commission announced that it has conducted inspections in Italy on four occasions, covering compliance with the EU drift net regulations (which ban driftnets larger than 2.5 km and their targeted use to catch bluefin tuna and swordfish). Although no findings were published, Mrs.Damanaki has said that it is time to "get serious" with non-compliance.

5. The Commission announced the details of the 2011 Joint Deployment Plan for control of the bluefin tuna fishery. Member States and the Community Fisheries Control Agency will mobilise 22 vessels and 9 aerial patrol craft to ensure that the bluefin tuna recovery plan is respected. In total, 232 days of sea activity, 150 days of ashore activity and 198 flight hours are scheduled to take place throughout the campaign. EU Commissioner Mrs. Maria Damanaki said that she expects that the Member States involved (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta, Cyprus) will take all of the necessary measures to ensure full compliance by their vessels.

6. Following Libya's withdrawal of its voluntary suspension of the bluefin tuna fishery for 2011, the Libyan authorities have made it clear that the Libyan purse seine fleet intends to engage in fishing activities for this species during this year. Since Libya will not be participating in the 2011 ICCAT Regional Observer Programme, the European Commission has written to Member States and ICCAT informing them it intends to regard catches from Libyan vessels to be illegal, and to take appropriate measures.

7. DG MARE of the European Commission has published an updated list of notifications made under the IUU Regulation 1005/2008, setting out the relevant Competent Authorities responsible for relevant functions in different third countries (e.g. catch certification, vessel registration).

8. The 2011 TACs and quota regulation was amended, refining the detailed reporting requirements for some catches, special conditions and zone definitions.

9. The 35th session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), took place between 9 and 14 May 2011 at the FAO headquarters in Rome. It was attended by delegates from 22 Members, as well as observers from non-GFCM Member nations and representatives from intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations. The European Union presented four proposals, resulting in the adoption of recommendations on red coral, reducing incidental by-catch of seabirds, by-catch of sea turtles, and conservation of the Mediterranean monk seal.

10. Due to exhaustion of quota, stop fishing notice were published by the Commission with regard to all EU vessels fishing for sandeel, Spanish vessels fishing for mackerel, and Portuguese vessels fishing for megrim.

11. The Commission has published the final report of the Interim Evaluation of the European Fisheries Fund (2007-2013) which supports structural adjustment in the EU fisheries sector. The report considers two main evaluation criteria (quality of implementation and effectiveness of the different priority axes supported by the EFF). It found that coordination procedures between the Commission and Member States were too formal, and that National Strategic Plans were largely disregarded once an Operational Programme was in place. It also found that only 33% of total budget had been committed by October 2010, largely due to lack of private sector funds for co-finance.

12. The Commission passed a regulation providing a one year extension of the derogation of the rules of origin for fishery products exported by Cape Verde to the EU, with respect to 2,500 tonnes for prepared or preserved mackerel fillets and 875 tonnes for prepared or preserved frigate tuna or frigate mackerel. The measure allows Cape Verde to maintain supplies to its processing sector during periods when raw materials are not available from national sources. The Regulation also requires Cape Verde to provide information regarding export certificates granted under the derogation.

13. The European Council also adopted the new Protocol under the EU-São Tomé and Príncipe Fisheries Partnership Agreement, for a period of three years. The protocol provides a financial compensation of EUR455,000/year and a contribution to sector support measures of EUR227,500. In return, fishing opportunities for 7,000 tonnes/year of tuna and highly migratory species are offered to EU vessels from Spain (16 purse seine vessels and 9 long liners), France (12 purse seine vessels) and Portugal (3 long liners).

14. Following a visit to Mauritania, the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament declared that the renewal of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the parties must be based on clearly identified surplus stocks. In addition, the Committee insists that data on catches by third countries in Mauritanian waters must also be provided, and recommends a reduction in the fishing opportunities for those stocks which are considered to be over exploited. It also recommends that the money paid as compensation for Access by EU vessels to fish stocks in Mauritanian waters must be uncoupled from financial support for the Mauritanian multi-annual fisheries programme, so that any reduction in fishing opportunities does not lead to a reduction in EU payments to the sectoral support programme. The Parliament also called on the Commission to provide Parliament with the ex-post evaluation report of the current protocol as an unclassified document.

15. The European Council adopted the new Protocol under the EU-Comoros Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which is currently only applied provisionally. The date of implementation is to be notified.

16. In response to a significant increase in the price of fuel in 2011, the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament asked the Commission to raise the ceiling on de minimis state aid from EUR 30,000 to EUR 60,000 per firm for a transitional period of three years, and called for the introduction of mechanisms to improve the first-sale price of fish.

17. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, gave a speech at an EU stakeholder meeting on discards, stating that "discards are bad for the stocks and bad for fishermen" and indicating that reducing discards is to be a top priority in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. She has also received a petition on discards with half a million signatures from UK consumers. 18. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki gave a speech to the European Parliament on the importance of effective resource management as the basis for the fishery sector, and the ecosystem approach. She promises that the reformed CFP will be fit for the 21st Century.

19. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki also gave a speech to the Roundtable on Food, at the Brussels Green Week, emphasising how reducing bycatches and discards in fisheries has a role to play in stock conservation, by ensuring that the maximum benefits are derived from catches.

20. The European Commission published Edition 51 of "Fisheries and aquaculture in Europe", with features on fisheries controls, women in fisheries and the European Marine Observation and Data Network.

21. The Commission approved the adoption of the term Zator Carp (Karp Zatorski often known as "Royal Carp") in the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications. This is the 27th Polish product to be so registered.

Fish hygiene

22. Rapid alerts were notified by the Commission in respect of failure to comply with health conditions for 3 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 2 consignments of cephalopods, 6 consignments of crustaceans, and 42 consignments of fish and fish products, including 2 consignments of frozen squid from Peru, 2 consignments of crabs and lobsters from Ireland, 5 consignments of chilled fish and sardines in oil from Morocco and 1 consignment of farmed yellowtail fillet from Japan.

23. DG SANCO published a report of a mission to Sweden in October 2010, with regard to assessing the sanitary conditions for fishery products. The mission found that whilst the responsibilities for control are clearly defined, and instructions and guidelines are provided, these are not legally binding on the Competent Authorities. The implementation of official controls varies among the municipalities and there is little or, in some cases, no legal power to enforce corrective actions. Some sections of the fishery sector were not subject to official controls. As a result it was concluded that controls were not carried out in accordance with European Union regulations. The report makes a number of recommendations to the Swedish competent authority, the National Food Administration, aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified and enhancing the implementation and control measures in place.

24. DG SANCO reported on a mission to Mauritania in January 2011, with regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products and live bivalve molluscs. The mission found that since the previous mission in 2006 a number of improvements have been implemented concerning legal framework, structure and organisation of the Competent Authority along with strengthening of financial, administrative and human resources. However, a number of remaining concerns were identified in relation to hygiene of freezer vessels and sampling and testing regimes. Although a system of quality control had been implemented in the fish testing laboratory, significant deficiencies were found in testing methods which undermined the reliability of the test results. The system of controls could not be considered equivalent to that required by EU regulations and the Competent Authority (Office National d'Inspection Sanitaire des Produits de la Pêche et de l'Aquaculture) was required to submit an action plan of corrective measures.

25. The Commission considered laying down a template for a harmonised sanitary certificate to be signed by the captain to facilitate imports when fishery products are imported into the Union directly from a freezer vessel. The objective is to keep the format parallel to the model health certificate for fishery products in order to fit into the electronic system for exchange of health certificates and import documents between the National Competent Authorities (TRACES). The Commission is considering whether the captain should have an authorisation from the flag state Competent Authority, and whether to require detailed specification of the fishing area. Further discussions are to be held.

26. DG SANCO published a report on a fact-finding mission to Germany in January 2011 to gather data on the production and official controls of smoked fishery products with special regard to their levels of contamination with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). The mission was conducted in the context of ongoing discussions on a possible amendment of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 to reduce the maximum limit for PAH and to include markers other than benzo(a)pyrene.

27. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission published a report "Deterring illegal activities in the fisheries sector". The report describes the kind of frauds encountered in the fishery products, in terms of incorrect declarations of origin and species, and describes the role of molecular technologies based on genetics, genomics, chemistry and forensics, which can help to detect them and provide evidence for traceability throughout the supply chain.

28. The Commission published a list of approved applications and commercial products for use as smoke flavours in foods.

29. The European Commission submitted recommendations for a series of amendments to the text of the Aquatic Animal Health code for consideration at the May 2011 meeting of the OIE. The Aquatic Animal Health Code will provide the future legal basis for the animal health controls for international trade in fish, and setting out established standards for control of fish health, veterinary medicines and related issues.

30. DG SANCO of the European Commission published a series of promotional videos setting out its Better Training for Safer Food Training activities in different areas such as Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, Laboratory controls, Health of fish and aquaculture animals, Rapid Alert System on Food and Feed).

31. The Commission considered an application from the United Kingdom for an approval of a surveillance programme on Ostreid herpesvirus 1 µvar disease of oysters, and approved measures for preventing the introduction of ostreid herpesvirus 1 µvar into Guernsey

32. Finland declared a part of its territory to be free of the VHS disease of salmonids

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