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March 2012

Common Fisheries Policy

1. European Parliament publishes report reforms of CFP external dimension
2. EU Fisheries Council adopts recommendations on reform of CFP external dimension
3. European Parliament Committee on Development opines on CFP reform
4. European Parliament discusses aquaculture development under the CFP
5. EU Parliament Economic and Social Committee expresses concerns on CFP reform
6. Commissioner Damanaki sets out role of European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
7. Commission presents proposals for Common Strategic Framework for structural funds
8. Commissioner Damanaki speaks to Italian Parliament on CFP reform
9. European Parliament Committee consider Baltic salmon management plan unrealistic
10. EU Council of Ministers supports EU ban on shark finning
11. EU ratifes Convention on fisheries management of in the South Pacific Ocean as
12. Commissioner Damanaki sets EU agenda for the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit
13. Commissioner Damanaki speaks on the blue economy and Maritime Spatial Planning
14. EU for Foreign Affairs Representative enters talks on Arctic region
15. Commission announces European Maritime event in Gothenberg (May 21/22 2011)
16. EU ratifies new Protocol to the EU-Guinea- Bissau Fisheries Partnership Agreement
17. Commission approves 2012 price support subsidies for fishery products
18. EU Fisheries Control Agency publishes annual report for 2011 and budget
19. Commissioner Damanaki visits Romania and Bulgaria; discusses Black Sea fisheries.
20. Commission appointing three new members to the STECF
21. Commission publishes Edition 55 of "Fisheries and aquaculture in Europe"
22. Commission publishes multi-lingual poster setting out the 2012 TACs and quotas.

Fish hygiene

23. Rapid Alerts notified for 45 consignments of fishery products
24. DG SANCO reports on inspection mission to Ireland; multiple deficiencies
25. DG SANCO reports on mission to France; some deficiencies with bivalve controls
26. DG SANCO reports on mission to Thailand; deficiencies but no immediate risk
27. DG SANCO reports on mission to Canada; previous commitments not met
28. DG SANCO reports on mission to Honduras multiple deficiencies
29. DG SANCO reports on mission to Turkey; most of EU requirements are covered
30. Commission relaxes restrictions on listing of establishments in Kazakhstan
31. Commission introduces new certificate for fishery products from freezer vessels
32. Commission amends rules for sampling and analysis for dioxins, and PCBS
33. Commission amends maximum levels of dioxins and PCBs in animal feeds
34. Commission relaxes safeguards on sampling and radiation testing of food from Japan.
35. Commission amends permitted levels of certain food colouring
36. EFSA provides scientific opinion on the use of clean seawater in contact with food
37. EFSA provides scientific opinion on bacteriophage for Listeria removal
38. EFSA provides scientific opinion on BHT anti-oxidants
39. EFSA reports on residues of veterinary medicines in foods; 37 cases of dyes in fish
40. EFSA reports on EU zoonoses trends; 5,262 food-borne outbreaks in 2010
41. EFSA proposes standardised default values for food safety risk assessments
42. Slovenia seeks disease free status for salmonid diseases VHS/IHN
43. Commission discusses changes in limits on endosulfan and arsenic in animal feeds
44. Commission and Danish Presidency co-host conference on animal welfare strategy

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament published its draft report on the Commission's proposals for reform of the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy, and set out a draft motion for a European Parliament resolution. The draft proposes that the Commission's approach is too concentrated on bilateral agreements and multilateral organisations, that there is a need for greater coherence between the fisheries policy of the Union and its policies with respect to development and the environment; it considers that bilateral fisheries agreements (or Sustainable Fisheries Agreements in the Commission's terms) should be maintained, but that they should be limited to resources that are scientifically demonstrated to be surplus to the coastal State's own catch capacity and should not target resources exploited by local fisheries. They should also contain stronger exclusivity arrangements, and respect for labour conditions. It also proposes that the EU should fund targeted scientific and technical cooperation, and fisheries research in countries where such agreements are established. The draft resolution also urges the EU to ensure that the external dimension also addresses international trade in fisheries and aquaculture products, private agreements between EU ship-owners and third countries, joint ventures by EU companies in third countries and activities by EU nationals on non-EU vessels. It also urges the Commission to propose the addition of fishing, as well as forestry, to the list of 'extractive industries' in the revision of the Transparency Directive.

2. Following the consideration of the report on the Commission's proposals for the reform of the external dimension of the CFP, the Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting on 19 and 20 March 2012 adopted its Conclusions. The Council is keen to strengthen international actions in the UN, FAO and other multilateral organisations with the aim of ensuring sustainable fisheries and preserving marine biodiversity and eliminating IUU fishing. It reaffirmed EU commitment to RFMOs and supports concluding and maintaining bilateral fisheries agreements, but stresses that the Union must contribute towards resource conservation and environmental sustainability and facilitate the integration of developing coastal states into the global economy. It sets out some specific requirements for Fisheries Partnership Agreements, including ensuring that access fees are fair, non-discriminatory and commensurate to the benefits, provided that an adequate financial contribution is made to assist the scientific and technical development of fisheries in the coastal state and that there are actions to improve the environment for fisheries businesses in the coastal state(s) in question. It also requires that ex ante and ex-post evaluations of such agreements be made available to Member States and the public.

3. The European Parliament Committee on Development published its opinion on the proposals of the Commission on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (to be considered by the Committee on Fisheries, which is formally charged with responding to the Commission). The opinion is highly supportive of fundamental reform, remains concerned regarding the EU markets heavy dependence on imports of fisheries and aquaculture products especially from less developed countries, and stresses that imported fisheries and aquaculture products should be subject to the same environmental and social standards as European domestic production. It considers that developing countries will need financial and technical assistance in order to reach these standards. The Committee also opposes the adoption of Transferable Fishing Concessions (TFCs) schemes in RFMOs, since they may disadvantage less developed countries.

4. The European Parliament Intergroup "Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development" hosted a conference in Brussels to discuss the aquaculture development measures in the proposals for the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Members of the European Parliament had an opportunity to hear presentations from senior industry representatives and to put questions to Mrs.Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. She put forward the proposal for an advisory council on aquaculture; there was also a debate on how to strengthen eco-labelling for aquaculture products

5. In advance of the debate on the CFP Reform proposals held the EU Parliament Economic and Social Committee set out its views opposing the application of MSY targets in mixed fisheries, calls for a more proportionate approach to the discard ban, and seeks clarification of the definition of "transparent and objective criteria" for the allocation of fishing concessions under the proposed transferable fishing rights regime.

6. At a hearing organised by European People's Party Group at the European Parliament, Mrs. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries described the vision for the future role of the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to be set up under reformed CFP. The fund has an important role to play in supporting the sector to achieve sustainability targets in terms of MSY and discard bans. Fishermen will get financial support for testing more selective gears and techniques and for purchasing already tested ones. As well as continued support for aquaculture, safety at sea, and improved quality, there will be support for investments, both onboard and in ports, to store and land those catches previously discarded. Fishers will be compensated for working with scientists on data collection. Higher levels of support (up to 75%) will be available to small scale fishers as well as some specific targeted measures such as advisory services on business and marketing strategies.

7. The European Commission presented its "Common Strategic Framework" (CSF) for all five of the EU's structural funds (including the new EMFF). This will be used to guide planning of EU investment subsidies by Member States and their regions during the period 2014 until 2020. Central to the new approach is the development of 'Partnership Contracts' between Member States and the Commission, with specific growth and jobs targets for 2020. A single programming approach will allow greater cohesion across measures, and permit introduction of multi-fund programmes, which will enhance the impact of EU investments. The Commission has called for comments.

8. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech to the Italian Parliament on "How to take the Common Fisheries Policy reform forward". She set out her vision for bringing sustainable fishing to the Mediterranean, with benefits of additional revenues for fishers. She argued that phasing-out discards was feasible in the Mediterranean, through the application of more selective fishing methods, with financial support from European Fisheries Fund.

9. The European Economic and Social Committee of the European Parliament provided an opinion on the Commission proposal for establishing a multi-annual plan for the Baltic salmon stock. The Committee welcomes the plan, but believes that the timetable is unrealistic for weak southern stocks in the light of current information. Neither does it agree with the proposal to prohibit compensatory restocking without strong scientific evidence that such restocking is harmful. It is also concerned that it may entail negative employment effects for commercial fishermen, the processing industry, sales, equipment, fishing tourism and aquaculture.

10. The EU's Council of Ministers adopted a motion supporting the Commission's proposal to require the landing of all sharks with their fins, by suppressing the derogation which allows removal of fins subject to certain weight ratios being maintained. It notes that the Scientific, Technical, and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) has confirmed the appropriateness of a finning ban, and has called for improving the accuracy of landings statistics on sharks.

11. The European Council ratified the EU's membership of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean as from 3 October 2011. The objective of the Convention is to ensure, through its effective implementation, the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources in the Convention area.

12. Mrs.Maria Damanaki, EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, gave a speech at the Symposium "A Blueprint for Oceans and Coasts" at the European Parliament. She set out an overview of the strategic approach to sustaining the EU's maritime economy which accounts for a production value of some EUR450 billion. She set out the Commission's agenda for the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Some of the issues to be promoted by the EU will be global zero tolerance on IUU, and seeking a multilateral agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to strengthen protection of the marine environment. At the session, the European Parliament passed a resolution welcoming the European Commission's October 2009 package on the integrated maritime policy (IMP), and its strategy for blue growth in a range of maritime sectors. The resolution calls on the Commission to come up with an overarching, cross-sectoral strategy for sustainable growth in coastal regions and maritime sectors by 2013.

13. At a Conference on Maritime Spatial Planning held in Brussels, Mrs. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech on the importance of the blue economy, covering maritime transport, energy generation as well as aquaculture and fisheries. She also highlighted the potential of deep sea mining and non-wind renewable energy. All require an integrate approach to maritime spatial planning to ensure a sustainable exploitation of maritime spaces and marine resources.

14. Ms.Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, travelled to the Arctic region for high level talks with leaders from Finland, Sweden and Norway regarding the EU's strategic, economic and environmental interest in the Arctic region.

15. The Commission has announced that European Maritime Day 2012 will be held on May 21 and 22. The main event will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a Conference "Sustainable growth from oceans, seas and coasts: Blue Growth" with discussions on the EU's strategy to boost growth and jobs in the maritime and coastal economy. At the event the EU will officially sign the ILO Convention 188 concerning work in the fishing sector.

16. The European Council ratified the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Guinea- Bissau, which sets out the fishing opportunities for EU vessel operators and the financial compensation to be paid. The Protocol has been applied on a provisional basis since 16 June 2011. The Protocol was published, together with the Decision on signing, December 2011.

17. The Commission passed a series of Regulation setting the level of subsidies under the common organisation of the market for fishery products during the 2012. The regulations set withdrawal and selling prices, being the prices at which fishery products become subject to market intervention subsidies. Minimum selling prices and intervention levels for a range of fish species subject to market intervention. They also set the level of private storage aid, and standard conversion factors for different presentations. Standard values were also specified for non-human consumption markets for different fishery products in different EU countries, to be taken into account in the calculation of price subsidies during 2012.

18. The EU's Fisheries Control Agency adopted its annual report for 2011 and workplan for 2012. The main achievements in 2011 were the implementation of five joint deployment plans, being for cod fisheries in the North Sea and Western Waters, cod fisheries in Baltic Sea, regulated species in NAFO/NEAFC, bluefin tuna, and for pelagic fishing in Western Waters. The proposed draft budget for 2013 remains the same as the final budget for 2012: EUR9.2 million.

19. Commissioner Maria Damanaki, undertook a visit Romania and Bulgaria on 29 and 30 March, respectively, to discuss maritime and fisheries-related issues and cooperation in the Black Sea basin. She met senior officials, Ministers, members of national parliaments and stakeholders with a focus on aquaculture and management of Black Sea fisheries. The Commissioner gave a speech at the Ministerial Seminar on the Black Sea during her visit to Bucharest in which she set out some pf the key issues of concern with regard to the maritime agenda of the Black Sea. She emphasised that the EU's maritime and fisheries policies with regard to the Black Sea are a good starting point for regional cooperation with non-EU coastal states. She explained the importance of the working group on the Black Sea within the General Commission for Fisheries in the Mediterranean as a basis for collaboration on assessing the status of fish stocks and set out some of the opportunities for economic growth linked to sustainable use of the Black sea and its maritime resources.

20. The Commission passed a Decision appointing three new members to the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, to replace members who resigned in 2011. Edmund John SIMMONDS, Guiseppe SCARCELLA, and Jenny NORD will hold office until 31 October 2013.

21. The Commission's DG MARE published Edition 55 of its magazine "Fisheries and aquaculture in Europe", with articles on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, a profile of the fishing port of Gothenburg, a review of the EU's Atlantic Strategy and a description of the 2012 TACS and quotas.

22. The DG MARE of the European Commission has published a poster in different official languages setting out the 2012 TACs and quotas.

Fish hygiene

23. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 45 consignments of fishery products, including 7 consignments of octopus, sepia and squid, from Indonesia, 5 consignments of frozen pollack fillets from China and 10 consignments from Spain consisting of 3 consignments of carbon monoxide treated tuna products and 7 consignments of tuna in oil, chilled monkfish, chilled and defrosted frozen mako shark, frozen blue shark from Spain.

24. DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on an inspection mission to Ireland in May 2011 to evaluate the controls systems for food safety of bivalves and related fishery products. The mission found that there were multiple deficiencies in the controls. Deficiencies were noted in the system of classification of bivalve production areas, and monitoring of phytoplankton and marine biotoxins in bivalves and marine gastropods was not comprehensively applied. In some cases the incorrect testing method was used for microbiological assay. Deficiencies identified in establishments were not always followed up and some requirements of EU legislation had not been officially controlled for a number of years. As a consequence, the system could not be regarded as providing necessary guarantees that live bivalve molluscs and fishery products for human consumption comply with EU food safety requirements. The Central Competent Authority (the Food safety Authority of Ireland) was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions.

25. DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on an inspection mission to France in September 2011 to evaluate the controls systems for food safety of live bivalve molluscs and their products. The mission found that the system of controls was broadly in line with requirements as set out in EU legislation. However specific legislation defining the classification of bivalve production zones was not fully in line with EU legislation. Some deficiencies were noted in the monitoring programme, notably the enumeration of E.coli, and the sampling for phytoplankton and marine biotoxins. The reference method for the chemical testing of biotoxins had been revised, but the accreditation had not been updated for the new method. The Commission requested the Central Competent Authorities to prepare an action to address the deficiencies noted.

26. DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on an inspection mission to Thailand in September 2011 to evaluate the controls systems for food safety of fishery products and live bivalves exported to the EU. The mission found that the CA had failed to identify some deficiencies in processing establishments and that some establishments, performing conditioning of bivalve molluscs, were not under control. Furthermore import controls on fishery products to be further processed and then re-exported to the EU were not sufficient to fully ensure the EU eligibility of those products. The CA had not addressed the lack of accreditation in the testing laboratories noted on a previous mission, undermining the reliability of tests for biotoxins, histamine and heavy metals (in particular Cd). There were shortcomings with regard to the classification of production areas for bivalve molluscs, the frequency for monitoring and laboratory testing for marine biotoxins. There were inadequate controls on scallops harvested outside classified production areas. However due to the fact that only thermally treated bivalve molluscs are exported to the EU and there have been no marine biotoxins detected there is considered to be no immediate health risk for the EU consumer.

27. DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on an inspection mission to Canada in September 2011 to evaluate the monitoring of residues and contaminants in live animals and animal products exported to the EU, including aquaculture products The mission found that the Canadian authority had not met a previous commitment to extend the national chemical residue monitoring programme (NCRMP) to include the monitoring of certain important substance groups in aquaculture products, without which the system could not be considered to provide guarantees with an effect equivalent to that foreseen by Council Directive 96/23/EC. The follow-up of non-compliant results - an essential component of any system to control residues - is also compromised by weaknesses in the legislative framework, long storage times between sampling and dispatch to the laboratories, ill-defined turnaround times from sampling to analysis, delays in freezing samples and inadequate sealing of samples. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) was asked to provide guarantees that the deficiencies would be addressed.

28. DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on an inspection mission to Honduras in November 2011 to evaluate the controls systems for food safety of fishery products exported to the EU. The mission found that there were deficiencies in the legislation concerning heavy metals and the use of chlorine in processing water. Fishery products were found to be treated with hyper-chlorinated water. HACCP plans were found not to adequately address the risks, and own checks were deficient as regards microbiological testing of ready-to-eat foods. There was no monitoring by the Competent Authority for dioxins or for Listeria monocytogenes in cooked fishery products. Laboratory testing methods used in the context of the controls for metabisulphites and heavy metals were neither accredited nor validated. The Competent Authority, the Servicio Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria was recommended to submit a plan of corrective actions to the Commission.

29. DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on an inspection mission to Turkey in September 2011 to evaluate the controls systems for food safety of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs and their products exported to the EU. The mission found that most of the EU requirements for fishery products are covered and the control system can be considered as adequately implemented. However national legislation and standards for live bivalve molluscs were not in line with EU requirements as regards classification and monitoring of production areas. Sampling intervals for water and bivalve molluscs could be up to 3 weeks, and there was no testing for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (benzo(a)pyrene) (PAH) , dioxins and PCBs. In one of the processing establishments, the Competent Authority had not identified that parameters for the heat treatment process were not in compliance with the Quality Control Manual requirements. Methods of analyses used for official controls on live bivalve molluscs were not accredited. The mission also noted that export certificates had been issued for live bivalve molluscs from areas closed due to E.coli contamination and where official analysis on the product had revealed the presence of Diarrheic Shellfish Poisoning (DSP). The Competent Authority, the Directorate General for Food and Control was recommended to submit a plan of corrective actions for the consideration of the Commission

30. Following the negative outcome of the inspection carried out to Kazakhstan in April 2007, and a follow-up mission in 2010, the Commission suspended the approval and listing of new Kazakh establishments to export fishery products to the EU. Following technical meeting with the Kazakh authorities, and guarantees regarding the rectification the deficiencies the Commission has reinstated the procedures and a new modified list of establishments is to be circulated to Member States.

31. Following a request from Member States and stakeholder organisations the Commission has passed a regulation to establish a harmonised model health certificate to be signed by the captain of freezer vessels when fishery products are exported directly from the vessel to the EU (thus replacing the certificate issued by the Competent Authority). The new model shall apply from 1 April 2012.

32. The Commission passed a regulation amending the sampling and analytical requirements for the official control of levels of dioxins, dioxin- like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs. This follows the application of new maximum levels for non-dioxin- like PCBs under an amendment to Commission Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006, which establishes a new approach to expressing maximum limits for some of these compounds.

33. Following the publication of recent scientific advice from EFSA, the Commission passed a regulation which amends the maximum levels and threshold action levels of dioxins, dioxin like PCBs and non-dioxin like PCBs, in animal feeds and products intended for animal feed, including fish meal. The Commission also passed a regulation modifying the requirements for analysis of the levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls in animal feeds. New sample preparation, analytical methods are introduced, as well as changes to the way that analytical results are reported and interpreted, to ensure a harmonised enforcement approach.

34. The Commission amended the protective measures regarding import of food from Japan following the accident in 2011 at the Fukushima nuclear power station, introducing more specific risk based measures taking into account the results of monitoring studies, the elimination of risk from some short half-life radionuclides (notably iodine-131), and national restrictions placed by the Government of Japan. The regulation now requires sampling and testing of a proportion of imported consignments of certain products (milk and dairy products, rice, and animal feeds, including fishfeed) for contamination with caesium-134 and caesium-137. Controls on the import of fishery products have been removed.

35. The Commission passed a regulation amending the Union list of food additives approved for use in foods and their conditions of use. This followed the issue in 2009 of an EFSA opinion on the safety of Quinoline Yellow (E 104), Sunset Yellow FCF/Orange Yellow S (E 110) and Ponceau 4R, and Cochineal Red A (E 124). The maximum levels at which these additives may be present in foods are amended from 1 June 2013. Foods which are already in circulation at that date may continue to be sold.

36. EFSA provided a scientific opinion on the risks associated with the use of clean seawater in various human activities, including, fish and fish processing. It recognises the risks of microbiological hazards, but considers that the risks of chemical contamination are low. For uses with low exposure to microbiological hazards, a basic sanitary survey and microbiological criteria based on the Directive 2006/7/EC are considered appropriate. For uses with a higher exposure, a more comprehensive sanitary survey, mandatory water treatment, and microbiological criteria based on Council Directive 98/83/EC with an additional criterion for Vibrio spp. are considered more appropriate. It is recommended to use ultraviolet (UV) or other physical methods as the preferred disinfection process to prevent the formation of hazardous disinfection by-products such as bromate and trihalomethanes.

37. The EFSA panel gave a scientific opinion on the evaluation of the safety and efficacy of a commercial bacteriophage product for the removal of Listeria monocytogenes surface contamination of raw fish. Although studies indicate that Listex P100 is listericidal on inoculated catfish and salmon samples, it was not possible to estimate the potential listeriosis risk reduction by this treatment. Whilst it found that there is no risk to human health from this treatment, there is a need for more data to test efficacy.

38. The EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS) delivered an opinion re-evaluating the safety of butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) (E 321). BHT is an authorised synthetic antioxidant and two recent studies have provided new evidence on its safety based on the incidence of hepatocellular carcinomas in male rats. The Panel concluded that the study gives reason to revise the ADI of 0.25 mg/kg bw/day. However it concluded that exposure of adults to BHT used as food additive is unlikely to exceed the newly derived ADI. Exposure of some children is exceeded in some European countries (Finland, the Netherlands).

39. EFSA reported on the collation of the Member States' monitoring data from 2010 on the presence of residues of veterinary medicinal products and certain substances in live animals and animal products in the European Union. A total of 736,806 samples were reported to the European Commission. They consisted of 418,081 targeted samples and 30,659 suspect samples, 5,377 samples checked at import and 282,689 samples collected in the framework of national programmes developed under the national legislation. Most Member States fulfilled the minimum requirements for sampling frequency laid down in Council Directive 96/23/EC. There were 1,373 or 0.33 % of non-compliant samples out of the total targeted samples in 2010 compared to 0.32 % in 2009. Out of 1,919 samples of aquaculture products, 0,05% were found to be non-compliant. Dyes were reported in 37 aquaculture samples, where the substances found were malachite green, leuco-malachite green, crystal violet and leuco-crystal violet.

40. The EFSA Journal published a report on trends and sources of zoonoses (diseases transmitted from animals to humans). A total of 5,262 food-borne outbreaks were reported in the European Union, causing 43,473 human cases, 4,695 hospitalisations and 25 deaths. Most of the reported outbreaks were caused by Salmonella, viruses, Campylobacter and bacterial toxins. The most important food sources were eggs and egg products and mixed or buffet meals.

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