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June 2012

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers vote on CFP reform; MSY by 2020?
2. EU Parliament criticises Commission's proposals for CFP reform; seeks gradual approach
3. EU Parliament proposes Fisheries Agreements should use only "surplus" fish
4. Commission seeks views on TACs and quotas for 2013; 12 stocks without advice
5. EU Parliament concerned about economic impacts of changes to rules on shark finning
6. EU modifies multi-annual recovery plan for bluefin tuna; new powers for Commission
7. Commission proposes new regulation on fisheries technical measures
8. Commission allocates EUR22.6 million for fisheries control programmes in 2012
9. European Fisheries Control Agency holds seminar on control of bluefin tuna fisheries
10. Commission hosts meeting of 15 RFMOs; suggests "no data no fish" principle
11. EU Parliament considers lack of coherence in Denmark's whaling policy
12. EU decides Finland's Fisheries Insurance Scheme contravenes EU state aid rules
13. First annual report published of the European Aquaculture Producers Federation
14. EU and Kiribati initial new FPA Protocol; EUR 1.325.000/year
15. European Council ratifies new Protocol under the EU-Mozambique FPA
16. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries visits Greenland
17. Commission comments on report on state of reduction fisheries around the world
18. Damanaki cites French supermarket Intermarché as case for regulation of sustainability labels
19. North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation holds annual meeting
20. Commission announces Black Sea Maritime Strategy conference in Bucharest in 2013
21. EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries speaks to Maltese Parliament
22. Stop fishing notices published for bluefin tuna, and pelagic trawlers in Mauritania
23. EU Parliament Committee supports EU's long-term cod management plan

Food Safety

24. Rapid Alerts notified for 46 consignments of fishery products.
25. FVO reports on dioxins & PCBs in Lithuania; some products may exceed EU limits
26. FVO reports on fish health in Denmark; certificates issued without inspection
27. FVO reports on fish hygiene in Venezuela; certificates issued to defective establishments
28. Commission establishes "qualified presumption of safety" for plant based food enzymes
29. Commission to publish guide on microbiological classification of bivalve harvest areas
30. New board members appointed to European Food Safety Authority
31. European Commission publishes edition of Animal Welfare Newsletter

Common Fisheries Policy

1. At a meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg, the EU Council voted to adopt a number of important reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy. With regard to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY). The Council accepted 2015 as a target date to achieve this status, but only where scientific advice on the state of the stocks is available. The deadline for all species is postponed to 2020. The concept of multi-annual management plans was approved, providing they use quantifiable targets such as biological parameters, and that safeguard and remedial measures should be included in the multi-annual plans. The principle of discard bans (ie. an obligation to land all catches) was adopted but with a gradual implementation, with the final timetable to be negotiated with the European Parliament and implementation via the multi-annual management plans. The Commission's proposal to distribute unwanted catches to charitable purposes was rejected. All fishery products landed, including those not complying with marketing standards, should be used for bait, fishmeal, fish oil and pet food. Fishermen will be reimbursed for landing unwanted catches, but the level of reimbursement must not create an incentive to target unwanted species. Regionalisation of fisheries management will be allowed where there is a will and capacity for cooperation between Member States. New Regional Advisory Councils will also be established for the Black Sea and the EU's outermost regions. Transferable Fishing Concessions (TFC) will be adopted only by Member States on a voluntary basis; Member States will be able to continue to use both public and collective management of quotas. The Council also adopted measures on reform of the fish marketing regulation, with measures to strengthen the role of the producer organisations, and to revise labelling requirements to make it compulsory to display date of landing for products which are to be sold fresh. A proposal to introduce a Union-wide eco-label was also adopted, asking the Commission to submit a report on the minimum requirements for obtaining approval for the use of such an eco-label by st January 2015. All these reforms must now be discussed by the EU Parliament and may be modified under the co-decision procedure, with a final decision expected in November 2013. The Council also discussed proposals for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), and expressed support for increased support to the aquaculture sector. A decision on this will be taken at a future meeting.

2. The European Economic and Social Committee of the European Parliament published its opinions on the proposed reforms of the Common Fisheries Policy (in respect of reform of the common organisation of the market in fishery products, and the external dimension of the CFP). Overall, the EESC agrees with the proposed general and specific objectives, but does not believe that the proposals would fully restore and maintain fish stocks to levels above those capable of producing the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). At the same time it advocates a more gradual and proportionate approach, based on progressively reducing discards. It finds the proposals relating to transferable fishing concessions to be confused. It would like to see concrete measures to improve working and living conditions in the fishery sector. It also calls for full 'sea-to-table' traceability for imported products, and calls for exhaustive controls, at borders and at origin, to ensure full compliance with sanitary and traceability rules.

3. A European Parliament report has set out the Parliament's initial proposals for a modification of the approach regarding Fisheries Partnership Agreements under the CFP Reform (proposed to be called Sustainable Fisheries Agreements). The amendment provides for such agreements to be entered into only where a third country has a "surplus of allowable catch" and requires that exploitation must be maintained above levels which can produce the maximum sustainable yield. It requires a transparent exchange of all relevant information on the fishing effort on the stocks concerned and formalises the exclusivity arrangements, adds provisions against reflagging practices, and includes a Human Rights clause. It also defines an new kind of agreement "Sustainable fisheries cooperation agreements" in which the EU would provide funding and technical support to countries with whom it shares sea basins.

4. The Commission issued a consultation document seeking Member State views on TACs and quotas for 2013. The document indicates that there are now 20 fish stocks in European seas which are known not to be overfished, compared to only 5 stocks in 2009. Only 12 stocks remain without scientific advice (compared to 57 in 2009). The document suggests that a further reduction in catches could result in €135 million extra income for the EU fishing industry.

5. The European Economic and Social Committee also provided an opinion on the proposals for the modification of the rules on shark finning, which would prohibit the removal of fins on board EU vessels. The Committee expressed concern regarding the economic and social consequences, and proposed alternative measures such as an obligation to land fins and bodies in the same port. The opinion states that revenue obtained by owners of shark fishing vessels for the sale of shark bodies accounts for around 55 % of total revenue, while sale of fins accounts for some 45 %.

6. The EU passed a regulation amending the multi-annual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean, in line with ICCAT Recommendation 10-04. The changes reflect a further reduction of the total allowable catch, the strengthening of measures to reduce the fishing capacity and for the reinforcement of the control measures. Purse seine fishing for bluefin tuna shall also be prohibited in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean during the period from 15 June to 15 May. New implementing powers are conferred on the Commission in relation to transfer operations, caging operations and recording and reporting of tuna trap activities.

7. The Commission announced that it will introduce proposals for a new Regulation for technical measures in the Union waters of the Atlantic Ocean to replace Council Regulation (EC) No 850/98. The changes, which have been subject to lengthy debate, will take into account the results of the CFP reform, and in particular will reflect the intention to adopt a new regionalised framework for technical conservation measures.

8. The European Commission announced the levels of financial support for the fisheries control programmes of EU Member States for 2012. The EU will contribute EUR22.6 million out of a planned expenditure on control budgets of EUR117.2 million. Up to 90% of investment projects implemented in areas of new technologies, automatic localisation devices and electronic recording and reporting devices will be funded by the EU. Greece gets the largest subsidy of EUR5.4 million.

9. The European Fisheries Control Agency held a seminar with other Contracting Parties to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to strengthen the monitoring and control of bluefin tuna fisheries by increasing coordination and cooperation between authorities. Participants shared their experiences of pilot projects, sampling plans, and video records as a tool to control transfers, trap activities, other gear and traceability measures.

10. Mrs.Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech " Making Regional Fisheries Management Organisations fit for the Future" at a conference attended, for the first time, by representatives, chairs and executive secretaries from 15 RFMOs stretching from the North Atlantic to the South Antarctic and from the Indian Ocean to the West Pacific. The conference was also attended by US Under Secretary of Commerce, Dr Jane Lubchenco. Mrs.Damanaki spoke about the need for reform, but also how the fight against illegal fishing needed to be geared up. She announced that the Commission is in the process of establishing the first EU list of IUU vessels in addition to the RFMO IUU vessel lists. She called for RFMOs to strengthen the scientific basis for management decisions, and that the default should be "no data no fish". She also called for greater focus on fishing capacity controls, since excess capacity underpins unsustainably fisheries in many regions.

11. The European Parliament held a hearing on whaling by Denmark's overseas territories (Faeroe Islands and Greenland) following presentation of a report from the European Bureau for Conservation and Development (EBCD) entitled "Breaking ranks: Denmark goes it alone on whaling policy". The members debated the position of Denmark which is not coherent with EU policy on whaling (which is to maintain the IWC moratorium on whale hunting, supporting the creation of new whale sanctuaries and end the loophole of scientific whaling).

12. Following Finland's refusal to amend its assistance programme 'Fisheries Insurance Scheme' in order to make it compatible with the Guidelines on State Aid in the Fishery Sector, the Commission has concluded that the scheme can only be considered compatible with the internal market when it is amended to: a) exclude vessels over 12m, cover damages suffered ; b) cover damage within territorial waters of Finland or in its economic exclusive zone, and c) cover damage which is caused by the specific conditions of Finland (ice, snow, strong storms, reefs in shallow waters or by the seals and cormorants). Finland must amend the scheme accordingly or suffer a penalty.

13. The Commission published the first annual report of the European Aquaculture Producers Federation regarding the current status of the European aquaculture industry, its strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats which it faces. It sets the priorities as boosting production, establishing a professional cadre, addressing concerns regarding fish health and welfare, and improving labelling.

14. The European Commission and Kiribati have initialled a new Protocol to their Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which will run for 3 years from September 2012. The new protocol provides fishing opportunities for 4 EU purse seiners and 6 long liners, with a reference catch of 15,000 tonnes. The EU annual financial contribution will be EUR 1.325.000/year out of which, EUR350.000 is to be allocated for implementation of Kiribati's fisheries policy. The fishing opportunities will be allocated to vessels from Spain, France and Portugal.

15. The European Council passed a decision ratifying the Protocol under the EU-Mozambique Fisheries Partnership Agreement, initialled on 2 June 2011 and in force provisionally from 1 January 2012.

16. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki visited Greenland where she held discussions with Premier Minister Mr Kuupik Kleist and the Minister for Fisheries and Hunting Ane Hansen regarding the Fisheries Partnership Agreement, and the scope for enhanced cooperation regarding the Arctic region. She also visited Greenland Fisheries and Licence Control, the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (for discussions on climate change impacts on Inuit Communities in the Arctic), Royal Greenland's processing plant in Ilulissat and undertook a trip to Disko Bay ice fjord (listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site).

17. The European Commission released a statement commenting on the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership's assessment of state of world fisheries used for fishmeal and fish oil. The report reviews the twenty-eight principal reduction fisheries around the Atlantic and South America, and rates them according to sustainability. SFP concludes that most of the fisheries operate within the limits considered to be consistent with current good industry practice. However, a few fisheries are experiencing significant difficulties. Commissioner Damanaki commented: " it is necessary to keep fisheries impacts within sustainable bounds, by including all knowledge we have about the interactions between fisheries and marine ecosystems".

18. Following a complaint from the French NGO BLOOM Association, regarding advertisements run by the supermarket chain Intermarché which claimed its deep sea fleet, Scapêche used sustainable fishing practices, the French advertising authority Autorité de Régulation Professionnelle de la Publicité (ARPP), has halted the campaign which is found to be misleading. The ARPP also warned against the risk of confusing consumers, as Intermarché's own label "Responsible Fishing" is too similar to the Marine Stewardship Council label. Commissioner Damanaki commented: " the Intermarché case is evidence that precise rules may be needed in this domain"

19. The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) held its 29th Annual Meeting in Edinburgh, UK. NASCO decided to maintain the prohibition of the mixed-stock salmon fishery off the coast of Greenland and Faroe Islands. No commercial fishing for salmon will take place there from 2012 to 2014

20. At the Summit of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation held in Istanbul, Mrs.Maria Damanaki gave a speech outlining the need for adapting the overall principles of the EU's integrated approach towards a Black Sea Maritime Strategy. She announced that the Commission will organise a Conference in Bucharest in 2013, bringing together all Black Sea countries and stakeholders.

21. Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech at the Maltese Parliament entitled "EU Maritime and Fisheries policies - towards sustainability and growth". The speech set out the arguments in favour the CFP reform process. She made special reference to the bluefin tuna management programme, in which Malta has a strategic interest and thanked the Maltese government for their cooperation.

22. Stop fishing notices have been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Spanish, Greek, Italian and French vessels fishing for bluefin tuna, and Portuguese vessels fishing for megrim. Due to exhaustion of quota, the Commission published prohibition of fishing notice for vessels flying the flag of a Member State of the European Union fishing in category 9 'pelagic freezer trawlers' in the Mauritanian Economic Zone

23. The European Economic and Social Committee published its positive opinion on the proposed amendments to the long-term plan for management of EU cod stocks.

Food Safety

24. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 46 consignments of fishery products, including 2 consignments of razor clams, from United Kingdom, 2 consignments of frozen shrimps from Vietnam, 2 consignments of frozen tuna from Namibia, and 2 consignments of swordfish from Spain.

25. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Lithuania in 2012, to assess the implementation of monitoring and control of dioxins, furans and PCBS in fish from the Baltic region. The mission found that there are particular risks to health of consumers associated with cod liver and in a small proportion of the herring, sprat and salmon catch. National measures banning the marketing of cod liver and providing advice to consumers are deemed adequate. However, weaknesses in the performance of official controls on food business operators' own-check programmes concerning these parameters, mean that some products placed on the market may exceed EU limits. The report makes a number of recommendations to the Lithuanian competent authorities, aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified.

26. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Denmark in 2011, to assess the implementation of animal health controls applied in the aquaculture sector. The mission found that Denmark has a favourable animal health situation concerning aquatic animals, and has adequate expertise on diseases of aquatic animals and more than adequate laboratory facilities for effective monitoring and surveillance. However the mission also found that not all aquaculture operators were registered or approved; there was a lack of documented systems and recording of controls; the certification procedure for imports and exports was not in compliance EU Directives (in that certificates were issued without inspection, relying only on an owner declaration). The report makes a number of recommendations addressed to the CA aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified.

27. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Venezuela in 2012, to assess the implementation of sanitary controls for fishery and aquaculture products consigned to the EU market. The mission found that in principle the current organization of the Venezuelan CA and the control system implemented by the CA can offer sufficient guarantees concerning the sanitary conditions of fishery products. However a number of deficiencies were noted. Freezer vessels approved by the CA do not meet EU requirements to be equipped with a temperature recording device or have a HACCP plan implemented. Systems of inspection and control at landing sites and on shrimp farms were considered to be insufficient and inadequate, and the CA had failed to take action against operators of processing establishments without adequate HACCP plans. Export certificates had been awarded in respect of products processed in establishments with identified deficiencies. Testing laboratories were not accredited. The report makes a number of recommendations addressed to the CA aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified, and the Commission sought guarantees regarding their being addressed.

28. The Commission passed a regulation establishing the principle of a "qualified presumption of safety" in respect of a number of established food additives based on plant enzymes. Regulation 1331/2006 establishing a common authorisation procedure for food additives, food enzymes and food flavourings is therefore amended to indicate that such additives do not need to be subject to toxicological assessment by EFSA.

29. The Commission announced the imminent publication of a guidance document on Principles of Good Practice for the Microbiological Classification and Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Harvesting areas. The document was prepared by Professor David Lees, Director of the European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for microbiological and viral contamination of bivalve molluscs in Weymouth (UK). All Member States have approved the document except for Greece which has asked for more time for consideration.

30. The European Council adopted a decision appointing seven new members of the management board of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to replace the members whose term of office will end on 30 June 2012. The seven members nominated are Valerie Baduel (FR), Sue Davies (UK), Piergiuseppe Facelli (IT), Jaana Husu-Kallio (FI), Radu Roatis Chetan (RO), Jiri Ruprich (CZ) and Tadeusz Wijaszka (PL).

31. The European Commission published the latest edition of its Animal Welfare newsletter, with a focus on the updating of the EU's animal welfare strategy and action plan for 2012-2015.

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