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January 2012

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Study on European Fisheries Fund critical of implementation by Member States
2. EU fisheries policy priorities set for 2012; CFP reform, market organisation and EFF
3. EU Council repeals legislation on EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement
4. EU approves FPA protocol with Mozambique and opens negotiations with Mauritius
5. Fisheries Partnership Agreement between EU and Cape Verde enters into force
6. EU Council passes Regulation on TACS and quotas for fishing in the Black Sea
7. European Commission sets reporting requirements for NEAFC Fisheries
8. EU grants formal access for Venezuelan vessels to EU waters off French Guyana
9. Study on bycatch of seabirds in EU fisheries finds Shearwater species at risk
10. Stakeholders' Workshop on Adriatic-Ionian Maritime Affairs to be held in Athens
11. EU Commissioner argues for discard ban "quota or no quota"

Fish hygiene

12. Rapid Alerts notified for 40 consignments of fishery products
13. EFSA BIOHAZ Panel finds high frequency of norovirus in oysters; proposes limits
14. EFSA publishes scientific opinion on dietary sources of cadmium
15. The EU Commission adopts new Animal Welfare Strategy; tougher laws proposed
16. EFSA publishes guidance on methodology for assessing animal welfare risks
17. EFSA advises against the use of isoeugenol as a flavouring in fish feeds

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission published the results of an interim study on the implementation of the European Fisheries Fund, a structural fund which provides subsidies for fishery sector investments in the EU (valued at EUR 4.3 billion during 2007 to 2013). The study concluded that the content and objectives of National Strategic Programmes and Operational Programmes remain relevant. However since their adoption in 2007, only one-third of EU Member States have introduced amendments to their Operational Programmes, even though the changes in the economic landscape have serious practical consequences for their implementation. Management of the Operational Programmes by Member States was found to have been adequate, as was stakeholder consultation (with the exception of gender issues). The report was critical of the quality and definition of progress indicators adopted, which were found to be not useful. It also concluded that the Fund's contribution to environmental sustainability of the fishery sector was not clear.

2. The Council of Agriculture and Fisheries decided on the priorities for fisheries policy during the Danish Presidency (due to run until June 2012). The reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is the highest priority, with a new basic CFP regulation, new common market organisation and new European maritime and fisheries fund 2014-2020 all expected in the next 6 months. Work will continue on diminishing unwanted catches and eliminating discards. More work is also proposed on ensuring the sustainability of the external dimension of the CFP, with the renewal of several bilateral protocols to Fisheries Partnership Agreements. Specific management conditions for fishing of deep sea stocks and further improvements to the procedure for setting annual fishing opportunities are also on the agenda.

3. Following the Decision of 14 December 2011 by the European Parliament not to adopt the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, the European Council has repealed the Decision provisionally adopting the Agreement on behalf of the EU, the Moroccan authorities ruled that EU vessels were required to leave the Moroccan zone immediately.

4. The Council of Ministers approved the provisional adoption of a renewed Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mozambique, and allocated the fishing opportunities to Member States. It also authorised the Commission to begin negotiations for the conclusion of a fisheries partnership agreement and protocol with the Republic of Mauritius.

5. The European Council gave notice that following ratification by both parties, the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Cape Verde entered into force on 17 January 2012.

6. The European Council published the Regulation bringing into force its decision on TACS and quotas for fishing in the Black Sea. The Regulation establishes a TAC of 86.4 tonnes of turbot for 2012 and a TAC for sprat of 11,475 tonnes. The quotas are shared between Romania and Bulgaria.

7. The European Commission passed a Decision implementing the 2010 Regulation on the strengthened control regime for the NEAFC Convention area. The Decision sets out the list of species whose catches must be reported by EU Member States on a monthly basis.

8. The EU Council passed a regulation formally granting Venezuelan vessels access to EU waters in the exclusive economic zone off the coast of French Guyana. The vessels have been supplying the Guyana processing sector for many years. Access is limited to the zone outside the 12 mile limit, and for an annual maximum number of vessels. Vessels fishing under the arrangement must comply with EU rules.

9. The European Commission published a consultancy report on the implementation in EU fisheries of the International Plan of Action (IPOA) for Reducing the Incidental Catches of Seabirds in Fisheries, adopted by FAO in 1999. The study surveyed the incidence of seabird mortality in a number of EU case study areas, as well the impact of mitigation measures. The study concludes that seabird bycatch are significant within the case study regions, with the potential to impact on bird populations. Both vulnerable and common bird species are impacted, at least two shearwater species in the Mediterranean are potentially impacted at unsustainable levels by longline fisheries. However mitigation measures are not regarded as cost effective, and have significant negative financial impacts for fishers.

10. The Commission announced that the first Stakeholders' Workshop on Adriatic-Ionian Maritime Affairs will be held on 14 February, in Athens. The Stakeholders will present their proposals on how to enhance benefits from maritime activities on employment, sustainable growth, accessibility and better quality of life. The workshop will discuss the maritime economy, protection of the marine environment, fisheries and safer seas. The conclusions of the workshop, as well as the most relevant and feasible proposals, will be included in a forthcoming EU Strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian macro-region.

11. At the Fish Summit, held at Fishmongers Hall in London, for leading chefs and caterers, Mrs.Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech setting out the arguments in favour of a sustainable fisheries policy, with particular focus on the issue of discards and the need to eliminate the practice "quota or no quota". She argued for the establishment of a stepwise discard ban, with fishers compelled to land every fish caught in the nets, with undersized fish destined for fishmeal production. Better gear selectivity and financial support for the industry will also be required. She also called for caterers and consumers to contribute by choosing sustainable fish for their menus.

Fish hygiene

12. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 40 consignments of fishery products, including 4 consignments with carbon monoxide treatment of chilled tuna products from Spain, 1 consignment of the same treatment of frozen amberjack from Japan and 1 consignment of irradiation in an unauthorised facility of dried and salted jack mackerels from Vietnam.

13. The EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ Panel) published a risk assessment on control options for norovirus in oysters. Norovirus is a major cause of acute gastroenteritis in Europe and bivalve shellfish are often implicated. Research in the UK, France and Ireland showed that norovirus is frequently detected in oysters in Europe which comply with existing EU control standards for bivalve molluscs. In the UK 98% of samples in the study were contaminated and in Ireland 88% (data for France was not reported). The EFSA considers that the most effective public health measures to protect consumers from exposure is to restrict harvest to areas which are not contaminated. Current methods used to remove norovirus in shellfish are not effective. The EFSA recommends that risk managers should establish an acceptable limit for norovirus in oysters. A limit of 100 copies/g would result in non-compliance rates among currently marketed oysters, of between 34% and 88% in the Member States studied. The PCR method is suitable for detection and quantification of this hazard.

14. The EFSA has published a scientific opinion on the dietary exposure to cadmium in the European population, following a request from the European Commission. Following the recommendation of the Contaminants Panel in 2011 that the Tolerable Weekly Intake of cadmium by the European population be lowered to 2.5 µg/kg body weight, the EFSA reviewed data from the EFSA Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database to identify major dietary sources of cadmium. Grains and grain products had the greatest impact on cadmium dietary exposure (26.9%) whilst aquatic molluscs contributed only 3.2%. The EFSA expressed concern that the margin between the average weekly intake of cadmium from food and the guidance values is small. Although the EFSA Panel concluded that adverse effects are unlikely to occur in an individual with current dietary exposure, they maintain that there is a need to further reduce exposure to cadmium at the population level.

15. The European Commission adopted a new Animal Welfare Strategy Paper, which sets out a four year strategy (2012-2015) which aims to further improve the welfare of animals in the European Union. The strategy aims to address gaps in the coverage and uneven implementation in current EU Animal Welfare legislation, with a new approach to take into account the diversity of EU climatic, terrain and farming systems. The strategy calls for a new comprehensive animal welfare law, focusing on actual welfare outcomes instead of inputs, and to increase the focus on the education and professional standards of all parties concerned. The proposals also include mechanisms to improve Member State compliance with legal requirements, boosting international co-operation and providing consumers with better information.

16. The EFSA published a scientific opinion providing guidance on the methodological approach to be used in risk assessment in animal welfare. It sets out the elements of problem formulation (description of the exposure scenario, the target population and the conceptual model linking the relevant factors of animal welfare concern) and a consistent approach to risk assessment (comprising exposure assessment, consequence characterisation and risk characterisation steps). The approach recognizes qualitative, semi-qualitative and quantitative assessments, and addresses the reporting and documentation requirements. The approach will be applied by the EFSA in the implementation of a risk-based approach to animal welfare anticipated within the EU's new animal welfare strategy.

17. Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP) delivered a scientific opinion on the safety and efficacy of isoeugenol when used as a flavour compound in feeds for all animal species. The compound, belonging to chemical group 17, is currently authorised for use as flavour in food, and is naturally found in various herbs and plants. Chemical formulations containing isoeugenol are used in water as an anaesthetic for fish, crustaceans and amphibians. In the absence of data on the correspondence between the exposure of fish via feed and the aquatic exposure, the FEEDAP Panel considered it prudent to exclude the use of isoeugenol as a flavouring agent in feed for fish and other aquatic species, but to permit it for other farmed animal species.

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