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July 2012

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Parliament calls for safeguards on transferable fishing rights
2. EU Parliament calls for fish stocks above Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) in Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform
3. Committee of Regions: transferable fishing concessions should be voluntary
4. DG MARE report highlights slow rate of fleet capacity reduction
5. Commission publishes video promoting transferable fishing concessions
6. EU to ban imports from states allowing unsustainable fishing of shared stocks
7. Commission accuses North Sea shrimp traders of operating price fixing cartel
8. DG MARE publishes feasibility study on European Market Observatory
9. 2012 quotas amended due to over-quota catches in 2011 and new advice
10. EU Parliament proposes revised Mediterranean fisheries management measures
11. EU Ministers discuss Total Allowable Catches (TACs) and quotas for 2013; some improvement in stocks
12. EU Council adopts reduced TAC for Bay of Biscay anchovy in 2012/2013
13. Commission extends temporary emergency management measures for haddock
14. Commission proposes stricter management of fishing for deep-sea species
15. Stop fishing notices published for several EU fleet segments
16. EU Fisheries Control Agency reports 32 infractions in 2012 bluefin tuna fishery
17. EU Commission amends catch reporting procedure in line with NEAFC decision
18. Commission accuses IATTC of "ongoing inefficiency"
19. Commissioner Damanaki meets North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers in Iceland
20. Commissioner Damanaki and Japanese Minister sign statement on IUU fishing
21. EU and Mauritania initial a 2-year Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA).
22. DG MARE publishes evaluation study in EU-Kiribati FPA
23. Cyprus (current EU Presidency) announces legislative programme for fisheries
24. DG MARE publishes aquaculture fact sheets
25. EU Parliament publishes report "The role of China in world fisheries"
26. DG MARE published Edition No.56 of "Fisheries and aquaculture in Europe"
27. EU publishes Communication on the EU's Arctic policy
28. Economic and Social Committee offers opinion on EU Atlantic strategy

Fish hygiene

29. Rapid Alerts notified for 64 consignments of fishery products.
30. DG SANCO publishes 2011 RASFF report; 718 notifications on fish products
31. FVO finds Greek bivalve controls have "very significant failures"
32. FVO finds some shortcomings on sanitary controls for fish from Namibia
33. FVO finds Brazil lacks controls over primary production of fish exports
34. EU Presidency (Cyprus) intends to revise hygiene package and official control
35. EFSA reports on dioxins and PCBs; highest contamination in eel and fish liver
36. EFSA finds no harm in dietary supplements of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids
37. Commission endorses guidance on monitoring of bivalve harvesting areas
38. Member States object to Commission's proposals for revised cadmium limits

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament issued a non-binding resolution calling for strengthened fisheries management to be included in the CFP reform. It estimates that 75% of the EU stocks are overfished, costing the EU about EUR 1.8 billion a year. It calls for a clear deadline for sustainable fishing, better data collection, a gradual ban on discards and safeguards on any introduction of transferable fishing rights. The next debate of the Fisheries Committee is scheduled for September, and a vote on CFP reform in October.

2. The Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament adopted an "overarching communication" prepared by Parliamentarian, Nikolaos Salavrakos. The report, which is non-binding, calls for stocks to be kept "above levels capable of producing MSY", an end to the "institutional impasse" of multiannual management plans (blamed on the Council), more funds for research and fleet renewal, and sanctions against Member States that do not collect fisheries data.

3. The Committee of the Regions provided its opinion on "Legislative proposals on the reform of the common fisheries policy". In general it supports the Commission's proposal to achieve the maximum sustainable yield by 2015. It considers that where possible a ban on discards should be gradually introduced, and that the introduction of a system of transferable fishing concessions should be on a voluntary basis, and be decided by each Member State (due to the potential risks and negative effects of a compulsory system). It calls for increased regionalisation of the Common Fisheries Policy and welcomes the proposed subsidy mechanism, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

4. DG MARE of the European Commission has published its report to the European Parliament and the Council on Member States' efforts during 2010 to achieve a sustainable balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities. It confirms the slow pace of decrease in capacity of the EU fishing fleet (with reductions of 2% in engine power and 4% in tonnage). The report underpins the need for changes in the current policy, as expressed in the Commission's proposals for CFP reform.

5. The Commission published a video showing how transferable fishing concessions (contained in the Commission's proposals for CFP reform) can work in practice and what benefits they can bring to fishers, with examples and case studies from Denmark, Sweden, Spain and Estonia.

6. The European Council announced that it has achieved political agreement on a regulation on trade measures to be applied to third countries allowing non-sustainable fishing of fish stocks they share with the EU. The regulation is expected to be adopted in the autumn of 2012, and will provide powers to restrict access to the EU market, and limit use of EU ports by fishing and transport vessels from offending countries. A country is to be defined as supporting unsustainable fishing if it fails to cooperate with the Union in the management of a stock of common interest in full accordance with the provisions of the UNCLOS. At the Agricultural and Fisheries Council Meeting of EU Ministers, Ireland, France, Spain and Portugal expressed strong support for trade restrictions on import of fish from Iceland and the Faroe Islands, if negotiations with these parties scheduled for September do not bring agreement on the sharing of the North-east Atlantic mackerel stock. The Economic and Social Committee of the European Parliament also expressed its strong support and praised the Commission for its initiative. However the Committee recommends that the measure be applied where a third countries' actions lead to fishing activities which would lead the stock below the levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield, or prevent the stock from reaching those levels.

7. The European Commission informed four traders of North Sea shrimps of its preliminary view that they have infringed EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels. The Commission alleges that, during unannounced inspections in 2009, evidence was found that these companies may have colluded to fix prices and allocate markets and customers in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium. If found guilty the companies may be fined up to 10% of their annual worldwide turnover

8. DG MARE published the report on the feasibility of the proposed European Market Observatory for fishery and aquaculture products, following a study commissioned from consultants. The report sets out a methodology for reporting of regular data on prices, transaction volumes and values, supply chain structure and price transmission (costs and margins) at different levels of the supply chain in the EU market for fish. As well as considering data sources and data treatment, it also addresses the legal, institutional and information technology requirements for implementation of the Observatory.

9. The EU passed a Regulation amending the 2012 TACs and quotas regulation to account for a number of changes in the management of different EU fisheries and to meet new international commitments. Fishing quotas for a number of Member States were reduced due to over-quota catches during 2011. Amongst other adjustments, Spain caught more than 8,300 tonnes over the quota of horse mackerel in sea area VIIIc (Iberia region) in 2011, and 2012 quotas are reduced by the same amount. Retention on board of giant manta rays is prohibited; following failure of the EU and Faroe Islands to agree on the annual exchange of quotas, these fishing opportunities are re-allocated to Member States; further to scientific evidence that trawlers targeting scallops in the Irish Sea have a very low bycatch of cod, they are consequently excluded from the effort management regime under the cod recovery plan; and various other fishing opportunities are amended further to scientific advice.

10. The European Parliament published its proposals for the revision of the regulation governing EU fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea. The revision will bring together under a single Union Act a range of fisheries management measures adopted by the General Fisheries Council of the Mediterranean, which have already been temporarily transposed into Union law by the annual regulations on fishing opportunities and other regulations. It will also extend the powers of the Commission to adopt implementing acts.

11. The meeting of the Agricultural and Fisheries Council Meeting of EU Ministers discussed the Commission's initial proposals on fishing opportunities for 2013. The early scientific indications point to more positive advice compared to 2012 and the Commission proposals for the deep-sea, Baltic Sea and the Black Sea will be submitted to Council in the autumn.

12. The European Council adopted a regulation establishing the fishing opportunities for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay for the 2012/2013 fishing season. These are set at 20,700 tonnes (a reduction of 30% compared to the previous season). Although the stock remains above safe biological limits, its size (at 68,180 tonnes) has decreased compared to last year's record-high levels, necessitating a cut in Total Allowable Catch.

13. The Commission has decided to extend the temporary emergency management measures for haddock in waters to the west of Scotland, introduced earlier in 2012. The decision is due to ongoing evidence of serious threats to the conservation of certain stocks of (including risk of high rates of discarding) if catch composition limits are re-introduced. The measures are extended for a further 6 months.

14. The European Commission has proposed new measures to regulate fishing for deep-sea species in the North-East Atlantic. The measures include a reinforced licensing system, a gradual phasing out of bottom trawls and bottom-set gillnets which specifically target deep sea species, and a new, specific requirements for the collection of data from deep sea fishing activities. The necessary fleet adjustments to implement these measures may benefit from financial support under EU Funds.

15. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Portuguese vessels fishing for blue marlin, Spanish vessels fishing for saithe, blue ling and bluefin tuna, Italian vessels fishing for bluefin tuna, and Danish vessels fishing for sandeel.

16. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) held a seminar in Vigo to present the provisional results of the 2012 Joint Deployment Plan to monitor the bluefin tuna fishery by EU vessels. The plan was implemented in cooperation with the Member States concerned (Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Malta and Cyprus) and the European Commission. In total, the plan implemented 84 days of control activity on land, 122 at sea and 168 hours of aerial surveillance. There were 343 inspections carried out, which detected 32 alleged non-compliances.

17. The Commission passed a regulation (under delegated powers) amending the scheme of fisheries control and enforcement established in line with the recommendation of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). The measure modifies the procedure for cancellation of catch reports.

18. The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), met in La Jolla, California, USA. It was not able to achieve consensus on proposals to extend the closure period for purse seiners in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, introduce of a Catch Certification Scheme for tropical tunas and swordfish, adopt a management plan for Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), introduce in-port inspections, or adopt a ban on the retention and sale of hammerhead sharks. The European Commission expressed concern over the IATTC's ongoing inefficiency in terms of conservation and management of stocks.

19. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, represented the European Union at the 17th North Atlantic Fisheries Ministers Conference (NAFMC 17) in Reykjavik, Iceland. The ministers held an exchange of views on the most effective policies to stop discards, eco-labelling and methods to ensure traceability of fish products, as well as results and impressions of Rio+20.

20. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and Akira Gunji, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan signed a joint statement regarding EU-Japanese cooperation to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. The parties agreed to systematically exchange information on IUU activities, promote management measures that strengthen control, monitoring and enforcement, encourage other countries to ratify and implement the FAO Port State Measures Agreement and to promote the sustainable use of fisheries resources.

21. The European Commission and Mauritania initialled a 2-year Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA). The financial contribution over this period will be EUR 70 million in return for fishing opportunities for demersal fish (including shrimps), tuna and pelagic resources. There will be a substantial increase of shipowners' fees, in line with the principles of the CFP Reform. The new protocol provides for its termination in case of under-utilisation of fishing opportunities. A human rights clause has been included, as well as the de-coupling of the sectoral support from access fees. The protocol also includes a contribution in kind by the EU fishing fleet, to meet nutritional needs of the local population.

22. The European Commission DG MARE published the results of an evaluation of the EU-Kiribati Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The study, undertaken by consultants, found that the Agreement generated EUR 4.0 of benefit in terms of value-added for every EUR1 invested by the EU and fleet owners. The cost of access to vessel operators (€35/tonne) represented up to 4.4 % of the average weighted sales prices of the tuna fish caught.

23. At the Agricultural and Fisheries Council Meeting of EU Ministers, the Cyprus Presidency indicated that its work programme would include ongoing work on the reform of the CFP, renewal of several protocols to bilateral Fisheries Partnership Agreements, establishing the fishing opportunities for 2013, the implementation of new trade measures and shark finning regulations.

24. DG MARE of the European Commission launched the publication of fact sheets on EU aquaculture species. Each sheet presents information on various aspects of the species: biology, different farming techniques, production and trade, and nutritional value. The first two fact sheets published are on sturgeon and carp, with sea perch, trout, turbot, salmon, sea bream, mussels, oysters and clams to be published later in the year.

25. The European Parliament DG for Internal Policies published a report "The role of China in world fisheries" undertaken by consultants. The report studies China's marine capture fisheries, and covers the scale of catches, the state of the Chinese fleet, the role of China as an import/export country of fish products, the activities of Chinese fishing vessels on the high seas and in third country waters, and China and IUU fishing.

26. DG MARE of the European Commission published Edition No.56 of its magazine "Fisheries and aquaculture in Europe". Contents include: unleashing aquaculture potential; research on bluefin tuna; labelling of fishery products and an aquaculture fact sheet.

27. The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy published a Communication on the EU's Arctic policy. Rapid changes in the Arctic environment due to climate change and emergence of new technologies are presenting new opportunities and threats to the Arctic region. The Communication proposes a series of measures including research, new search and rescue means, stepping up actions to combat climate change impacts, sustainable development of local and indigenous communities and enhancing bilateral dialogues with Arctic States.

28. The Economic and Social Committee of the European Parliament offered its opinion on the Communication of the EU's maritime strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area. The opinion states that Iceland, Greenland, Norway and Faroe Islands should be involved in the strategy and proposes a more ambitious approach, with a macro-regional strategy which, in conjunction with the maritime pillar, incorporates the territorial pillar, taking account of the experiences of the Baltic Sea and Danube regions.

Fish hygiene

29. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 64 consignments of fishery products, including 3 consignments of frozen shrimps, from Ecuador, 5 consignments of tuna and 2 of swordfish from Spain, 4 consignments of sardines and 2 of mackerel from Morocco and 3 consignments of canned tuna from Thailand,

30. DG SANCO has published its annual report for 2011 on the results of its Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. During the year a total of 3,812 original notifications were transmitted through the RASFF, of which 635 were classified as alert, 573 as information for follow-up, 744 as information for attention and 1,860 as border rejection notifications. Overall, there were 718 notifications concerning fishery products, of which 68 were for bivalve molluscs, 81 for cephalopods, 78 for crustacean and 491 for other fish and fishery products. Parasitic infestation of fishery products with the nematode Anisakis spp. were in the top 10 most frequent notifications by country (with 40 alerts from Italy). For the first time the report sets out some relevant case studies of food poisoning in the EU, and describes the sampling and testing undertaken following the accident at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan. Following the publication, John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, stated: "European consumers enjoy the highest food safety standards in the world".

31. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Greece in October 2011, to assess the controls on bivalve molluscs and their products placed on the EU market. The mission found that there was no effective coordination and cooperation between different central, regional and local competent authorities. Classified production areas were designated more than ten years ago. However their boundaries were not clearly defined; in one case boundaries were modified without considering the sanitary implications; classification of the areas never changed despite the results obtained from the monitoring. The Central Competent Authority, the Directorate of Veterinary Public Health of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food, was not aware of the existence of areas classified for relaying by regional competent authorities. Monitoring frequencies in the authority's own rules were not respected, and official sampling forms did not record relevant data regarding origin, date and oceanographic conditions related to the sample. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were not routinely tested for. In one case the discovery of E.coli contaminated molluscs did not result in a re-classification of the area, and business operators were found not to purify contaminated molluscs. Microbiological tests undertaken in accredited official laboratories did not use the accredited method, and results could not be considered valid for official control purposes. Purification of molluscs was not monitored to verify the process and traceability could not be guaranteed in all establishments. Official reports were not available in establishments. In addition there was no system in place to control the production and placing on the market of pectinidae and marine gastropods harvested outside classified production areas. The mission considered that the decisions of the Competent Authority were "ineffective from a consumer protection perspective" and that there were "very significant failures" by the CCA, with important deviations from EU legislation all along the bivalve mollusc production chain.

32. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Namibia in early 2012, to assess the controls on fishery products exported to the EU. The mission found that there is no legal requirement for freezer vessels to be equipped with temperature recording devices. The Competent Authority did not carry out any inspections at the only landing site, and had approved one establishment which had not complied with improvements demanded. The audit team recommend that the shortcomings should be corrected to ensure that the official controls system can be considered as fully equivalent with EU requirements. Following the findings of the mission, the Namibian Competent Authority submitted a plan of corrective actions, subsequently approved by the FVO.

33. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Brazil in 2012, to assess the controls on fishery products exported to the EU and to follow up on the findings of a previous mission in 2007. The mission found that maximum limits for lead and cadmium in fishery products were not in line with the EU requirements. Although the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture had been designated with responsibility for sanitary controls over primary production, there was no system in place for control of fishing/freezer vessels and landing sites. Non-Brazilian vessels were listed as approved, and there were no checks to ensure that imported fishery products destined for the EU market met the requirements set out in the EU health certificate. In order to be fully equivalent to controls set out in EU legislation, the Brazilian Competent Authority, DIPES was recommended to improve official controls on primary production and freezer vessels, the implementation of the planned official controls over establishments (including factory/freezer vessels) and the evaluation of the EU eligibility of the imported raw materials.

34. At the Agricultural and Fisheries Council Meeting of EU Ministers, the Cyprus Presidency indicated that its work programme would include a revision of the hygiene package and the official control regulation. A new animal health law would also be introduced.

35. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a report on levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in food and feed. Based on some 33,000 samples collected by 26 European countries between 1995 and 2010, levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs, and of non-dioxin-like PCBs were found to be above the permitted maximum levels in respectively 10 % and 3 % of the food samples. Just over 2 % of feed samples were above the maximum levels for both dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs, and non dioxin-like PCBs. "Meat from eels" and "Fish liver and derived products" contained the highest average contamination levels for both dioxins and PCBs. Farmed salmon and trout contained on average lower levels of dioxins and PCBs than salmon and trout caught in the wild. Herring, salmon and trout from the Baltic region were more contaminated by dioxins and PCBs than those from other regions.

36. The EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA Panel) delivered a scientific opinion on the daily supplemental intakes of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (such as such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), all of which are found in fish oils. The study was commissioned following concerns that some consumers were taking possibly harmful supplemental quantities. The panel found that consumption of up to 5g of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids raised no safety concerns for adults.

37. The Commission's Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health endorsed the EU Reference Laboratories Guide on Principles of Good Practice for the Microbiological Classification and Monitoring of Bivalve Mollusc Harvesting Areas with regard to Regulation (EC) No 854/2004.

38. The Commission presented proposals to EU Member States for the amendment of Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of cadmium in foods. These include amendments to the levels applicable to some fishery products. However some Member States expressed strong objections, on the basis that the food commodities contributing most to exposure to cadmium would not be targeted by the lower maximum levels proposed.

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