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December 2011

Common Fisheries Policy

1. European Parliament rejects extension of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement
2. EU considers limiting EU market for countries allowing non-sustainable fishing
3. EU Court of Auditors reports on failure of fleet decommissioning policy
4. EU and Norway agree on North Sea TACs, quotas and management measures
5. EU Fisheries Ministers agree on 2012 quotas; reduced days at sea for North sea cod
6. EU Fisheries Ministers agreed on the 2012 TACS and quotas for the Black Sea
7. EU publishes Regulation setting TACs and quotas for the Baltic Sea during 2012
8. EU strengthens legislation on conservation and management of Mediterranean fisheries
9. Commission asks for EUR 6.5 billion for the EU Maritime and Fisheries Fund
10. EU approves EUR 40 million over 3 years for Integrated Maritime Policy
11. EU & Guinea Bissau agree 1 year fisheries access agreement, worth EUR 7.5 million
12. DG MARE to spend EUR10.3 million of unused budget on fisheries data systems
13. Commission grants EUR 8 million subsidy to Spain for fisheries data systems
14. EU sets 2012 price support subsidies for fishermen
15. EU gives tariff breaks to imports of raw material for EU fish processors
16. Kenya allowed to supply EU with 2000 tonnes of non-originating tuna loins in 2011
17. Reductions in days at sea for 2011 revoked by Commission
18. Stop fishing notices published for several EU fleet segments
19. Community Fisheries Control Agency changes name
20. Commissioner Damanaki proposes seabed map of European waters by 2020
21. UN General Assembly adopts resolution on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems
22. EU strategy for Atlantic Ocean to focus on energy, biotechnology and aquaculture
23. DG MARE publishes study on Inland Fisheries
24. DG MARE publishes study on tuna supply chain

Fish hygiene

25. Rapid alerts notified for 71 consignments of fishery products
26. Gambia consigns potentially poisonous fish species to the EU
27. EU changes regulation on freezing treatment for parasites in fishery products
28. EU alters permitted levels of dioxins in fish; derogations extended in Baltic countries
29. Commission approves new authorisation regime for imported organic products
30. Commission sets multi-annual control programme for pesticide residues in foods
31. Commission proposes list of 222 permitted health claims for foods
32. EU limits scope of monitoring of radioactivity in Pacific fish and fishery products
33. EFSA to publish updated report on cadmium exposure from foods
34. DG SANCO updates web pages on chemical contamination in foods
35. Commission considers changes to dioxin and endosulfan limits in fish feeds
36. Commission considers 2010 report on veterinary medicine residues in foods
37. EFSA reviews risks of mycotoxins in animal feeds; fish feeds lowest risk
38. Commission allows Finland and Sweden to keep limits on movement of farmed fish
39. Commission publishes Edition 54 of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Parliament voted to reject a proposed extension of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement due to the low cost-benefit ratio for the EU, the excessive exploitation of demersal stocks, the very limited contribution of EU funds to the development of local fisheries policy and the lack of proof that EU money benefits the local population of Western Sahara. It called on the Commission to negotiate a new, more environmentally and economically beneficial deal, which should take account of the interests of the Sahrawi population. The current protocol, which has applied provisionally since 28 February 2011, will cease to apply immediately. The Decision over-rode a proposal from the Parliament's own Fisheries Committee to extend the Agreement. Following the decision the Presidency informed Morocco of the immediate termination of the protocol and EU vessels were required to leave the Moroccan zone at short notice.

2. EU Fisheries Ministers were briefed on a proposal from the Commission on market measures in relation to countries allowing non-sustainable fishing by taking unilateral decisions on shared fish stocks (aimed mainly at the Faroe Islands and Iceland). Several Member States supported this initiative. The Commission is preparing a draft regulation.

3. The European Court of Auditors published its report on the effectiveness of measures taken by the EU to reduce the capacity of EU fishing fleets to available fishing opportunities, on which the EU has allocated EUR 1.7 billion since the 1990s. The audit concluded that overcapacity of the fishing fleet continues to be one of the main reasons for the failure of the CFP in assuring a sustainable fishing activity. The ECA found important weaknesses in the framework: the design and implementation of measures is unsatisfactory; Member States have not done enough to ensure fishing capacity matches with opportunities; four of the seven Member States examined had set inadequate targets for reducing fishing capacity (France, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom); definitions of fishing capacity do not reflect the ability of fishing vessels to catch fish; ceilings do not impose real restrictions on fishing capacity; fishing overcapacity has not been defined or quantified; The report was also critical of the failure to withdraw fishing opportunities when vessels were scrapped with public funds.

4. The European Union and Norway concluded their annual agreement for the management of shared fish stocks in the North Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat, and also agreed the exchange of reciprocal fishing possibilities in each others waters was also reached. The level of that exchange will be significantly higher for 2012, compared to 2011. The parties also agreed to introduce a discard ban and harmonise technical measures. The TAC for North Sea cod was set at 26,475 tonnes.

5. Following the agreement with Norway, the EU's Council of fisheries ministers agreed on TACS and quotas for EU vessels for 2012, for the Atlantic, the Channel and the North Sea. The decision was based on scientific advice, provided by International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), which indicated an improvement in Celtic Sea cod, haddock and the southern anglerfish stock, allowing increases in catches from these stocks. For the majority of other stocks, quotas remained the same as last year or were decreased (e.g. mackerel, saithe, northern prawn, skate), although in many cases not as much as recommended by the Commission. The ministers agreed on an increase in quotas for blue whiting (by 800% in some areas), haddock (by 200% in some areas of EU waters) and for herring in EU and Norwegian waters (by 110%).

6. The Council of Agricultural and Fisheries Ministers, agreed on the 2012 fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks in the Black Sea. The Council agreed a TAC of 86.4 tonnes of turbot for 2012, slightly higher than the Commission's proposal. The proposed TAC for sprat of 11,475 tonnes was adopted.

7. The Commission proposed a new financial instrument for implementation of the EU's maritime and fisheries policies for the period 2014-2020. The new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) has a proposed envelope of EUR 6.5 billion for the period 2014 to 2020. It is proposed to eliminate scrapping subsidies, following the criticisms of the Court of Auditors.

8. The EU Council passed a Regulation consolidating within a single act all of the fisheries conservation measures agreed by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean during its Annual Sessions in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, and clarifying provisions regarding minimum mesh size in Mediterranean fisheries. The Regulation also introduces port state measures to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in the GFCM area, and strengthens the powers of the Commission to pass implementing regulations for management and conservation of Mediterranean fisheries.

9. The EU published the Regulation setting the TACs and quotas for the Baltic Sea during 2012, which were agreed last month. Total allowable catches (TACs) for eastern and western Baltic cod will be increased by 15% and 13% respectively. Fishing effort limits for Baltic cod stocks are also defined.

10. The EU passed a regulation establishing the rules concerning the programme of measures to be supported under the Integrated Maritime Policy. The financial envelope for the implementation of the Programme shall be set at EUR 40 million for the period from 1 January 2011 to 31 December 2013. The Regulation sets out the general and operational objectives, the eligible actions, which include (a) projects including professional training programmes; (b) public information and awareness raising (c) conferences, seminars, workshops (d) pooling, monitoring and ensuring public access to data and (e) actions relating to cross-cutting tools. At least 60 % of the finance will be dedicated to the development of cross-sectoral tools.

11. The EU and the Government of Guinea Bissau provisionally agreed on the Protocol to their Fisheries Partnership Agreement, for a period of one year from 16 June 2011, pending formal ratification by the parties. The Protocol to the Agreement sets out the fishing opportunities for EU vessels including a) freezer shrimp trawlers: 4,400 GRT per year; b) freezer, fin-fish and cephalopod trawlers: 4,400 GRT per year; c) freezer tuna seiners and longliners: 23 vessels; and d) pole-and-line tuna vessels: 14 vessels. The financial compensation provided by the EU is EUR7 million/year plus EUR 0.5 million/year for the introduction of a sanitary controls for fishery products. The EU Council passed a Regulation allocating the fishing opportunities for Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal.

12. The Commission passed a decision to employ EU budgets unused by Member States fisheries control, inspection and surveillance programmes for 2011. Unspent funds of EUR 10.3 million will be allocated to member States for automation and management of data, electronic recording and reporting systems (ERS systems), electronic recording and reporting devices (ERS devices) and vessel monitoring systems (VMS) activities.

13. The Commission published a Decision to grant a subsidy of EUR 8 million to the Government of Spain in 2011, for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector.

14. The EU introduced a regulation setting the 2012 guide prices for certain fishery products subject to subsidies for withdrawal from the market. The Guide prices determine the price level at which intervention subsidies to fishers are to be implemented.

15. The EU Council passed a regulation suspending import tariffs for 2 years for certain products including some fishery products to be imported as raw material for EU fish processing activities. Suspensions of import tariffs cover fresh chilled red snapper, Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) for manufacture into pastes, fish roes,and king crab (packed> 2 kg).

16. The Commission has granted a temporary derogation for the Kenyan tuna sector, which allows for the importation from Kenya to the EU of up to 2,000 tonnes of non-originating tuna loins in 2011. This is because of the low levels of Kenyan catches of raw originating tuna and the impacts of piracy on the supply of raw tuna, which render it impossible for Kenya to comply with the rules of origin.

17. Due to doubts regarding the factual basis for last months reduction in days at sea for certain segments of the EU fleets (targeting cod and scallops) to account for over-utilisation of fishing effort in 2010, the Commission has repealed Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1211/2011. The measure affects fleets from UK, Germany, France and Ireland.

18. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Dutch vessels fishing for anglerfish, skates and rays, and other species in Norwegian waters, Polish vessels fishing for herring, Norwegian vessels fishing for industrial fish in Norwegian waters, German vessels fishing for cod in Greenland waters and for herring in EU and international waters, all Member State vessels, except Danish and Irish, fishing for boarfish.

19. Following the Lisbon Treaty of 2010, the Community Fisheries Control Agency" has decided to change its name to "European Fisheries Control Agency" from 15 March 2011.

20. Mrs.Maria Damanaki, the European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech on the "Blue Economy" at the Seminar "The Future of Marine and Maritime Innovation in Europe" held in Brussels. She proposed that the EU supports the development of a seabed map of European waters to be ready by 2020. This will include water depth, marine sediments and marine life as well as real-time information on parameters such as temperature, salinity and sea-level.

21. The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution on sustainable fisheries. The resolution specifically addresses measures for the protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems from the impacts of bottom fishing and the long term sustainability of the deep sea fish stocks. States are also called on to make more progress within FAO on Flag State Performance. The resolution was welcomed by the European Commission.

22. At the Atlantic Conference in Lisbon, European Commissioner Maria Damanaki gave a speech on the EU's strategy for the Atlantic Ocean. She emphasised the role of the Ocean in providing zero-emission energy, with security of supply, and potential to provide 26,000 direct and 13,000 indirect jobs by 2020. Marine biotechnology and aquaculture are other areas for development. All will be considered by an Atlantic Forum to gather opinions and deliver an Action Plan for the beginning of 2013.

23. DG MARE of the Commission published a consultancy study on EU Interventions in Inland Fisheries. The study characterises inland fishing in EU member states, describes management approaches (including ownership and property rights), socioeconomic impacts (including recreational fishing) and assesses the appropriateness of EU policy instruments in addressing the needs of the sector. It recommends that the definition of inland fishing should specifically include those fishers who fish without a vessel and discusses the need to modify European Fisheries Fund to account for the needs of this sector.

24. DG MARE also published a consultancy study "Etude Sectorielle De La Filiere Thoniere Europeenne" undertaken by consultants in 2009. The study sets out the extent of EU involvement in the global tuna and large pelagic fisheries, and the associated supply chain. It considers the competitiveness of the EU operators and assesses the impact of the EU's tariff regime on the economics of supply. It concludes that the inclusion of Asian countries on the list of GSP countries (this benefiting from a preferential tariff) has brought about a significant increase in the market share of Asian products, in particular Thai products.

25. The Commission has published Edition 54 of Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe. Articles include: the ecosystem approach in the Baltic; the EU's Fisheries Control Agency, the use of DNA evidence in catching illegal fishers, and the European Fisheries Fund - the territorial approach.

Fish hygiene

26. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 71 consignments of fishery products, including 4 consignments of frozen clams from Chile, 2 consignments of frozen squid from the USA, 3 consignments of frozen prawns from Mozambique.

27. The rapid alerts included a notification regarding a consignment of potentially poisonous fish fillets derived from fish of the family Tetraodontidae (pufferfish) brought on the market with incorrect labelling (as angler/monkfish), originating from the Gambia.

28. The Commission passed a regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 regarding the minimum freezing treatment of fishery products to be consumed raw or uncooked, which is required to kill viable parasites. The amendment allows for some products to be exempted from this requirement (farmed fishery products and products from fishing grounds shown by the Competent Authority not to be subject to the parasite hazard).

29. The Commission approved a regulation adjusting the maximum permitted levels of dioxins and dioxin like PCBs in fish and marine oil products. The Regulation also extends the derogation regarding maximum limits in Finland, Sweden and Latvia. These countries may authorise the placing on their market of certain fishery products (salmon, herring, char, river lamprey and trout) originating in the Baltic region and intended for consumption in their territory with levels of dioxins and/or dioxin-like PCBs and/or non-dioxin-like PCBs higher than the limits set. A system must be in place to ensure that consumers are fully informed of the recommendations on consumption of these species.

30. The European Commission passed a decision strengthening controls on organic products imported from third countries. From 1st July 2012 claims of organic status for imports will only be authorised for products certified by the approved and listed control bodies and control authorities. The regulation sets out the duties of third country bodies (including submission of annual reports to the Commission, notification of investigations of irregularities etc.) The approval system includes a category for aquaculture products.

31. The Commission passed a regulation setting out the coordinated multi-annual control programme for 2012- 2014 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides in food of plant and animal origin, and to assess consumer exposure to pesticide residues. The regulation sets out the sampling and monitoring plan for pesticide residue controls. Until now, fishery products are not included in the monitoring programme, although meat and poultry are.

32. The Commission published detailed proposals regarding permitted health claims under Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 December 2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods. A list of 222 health claims are proposed for inclusion on the permitted list. Some 2,000 other claims are still awaiting evaluation. A Union Register of all permitted health claims and those not authorised is to be published online. Member States agreed on the proposals.

33. The Commission and Member States discussed the need to continue the monitoring for the presence of radioactivity in fish and fishery products from the Pacific region, following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station. Of 1,337 samples of feed and food produced in Japan and 358 samples of fish and fishery products from the Pacific region, only 2 samples (of tea) have shown non-compliant levels. No elevated radionuclide contamination of migratory species fish (including albacore, bluefin, bigeye and skipjack tunas and billfishes such as swordfish and marlin) has been observed anywhere in the Pacific. The EU's monitoring of imports should be limited to these species of fish caught in FAO Fishing zone 61.

34. The Commission was informed that in January 2012 EFSA will publish a scientific report presenting an updated exposure assessment on cadmium, using the detailed consumption figures from the new EFSA Comprehensive Food Consumption Database. The Commission presented a working document containing revised/new maximum levels for a number of foodstuffs, which may lead to a further revision of the limits for cadmium in foods set out in Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs.

35. The Commission and Member States discussed amendment of Directive 2002/32/EC setting maximum levels for undesirable substances in animal feeds. Specific measures may be introduced for dioxins in crustacea meal, and the limits for endosulfans in fish feed for Salmonids may be set at a higher maximum level (keeping the current maximum level for feed for other fish species).

36. DG SANCO of the European Commission has updated its web pages regarding chemical contamination in foods, and the measures in place to monitor and control potential risks to human health.

37. The Commission considered the presentation of the draft annual report for 2010 on residue monitoring of veterinary medicine products in foods.

38. The European Food Safety Authority published a scientific opinion on the risks associated with Fusarium mycotoxins in food and feed. The highest level of exposure based on the occurrence data in feed was for milking goats and the lowest was for farmed fish (at 0.19 µg/kg of body weight per day). This suggests that fish feeds are not likely to be a major animal health risk due to exposure to these mycotoxins.

39. The Commission passed a decision allowing Finland and Sweden, to continue national measures limiting the distribution of salmonid aquaculture species, to prevent the spread of infectious fish diseases. The authorisation is limited to two more years until 31 December 2013.

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