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October 2012

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fish Ministers agree to keep scrapping subsidies up to 2017
2. EU's Committee of the Regions argues for status quo on fish subsidies
3. Commissioner Damanaki wants to keep up pace of CFP reform
4. Commission proposes fishing opportunities deep-sea fish stocks for 2013-2014.
5. EU Fisheries Ministers agree Baltic quotas for 2013
6. Commission proposes 2013 fishing opportunities for Atlantic and North Sea
7. European Parliament against Commission determining target fishing mortality
8. EU considers seeking increase in bluefin TACs via ICCAT
9. French anchovy quota increased for 2012-2013
10. Spanish fleet to get more days at sea due to permanent withdrawals
11. Commission amends quota penalty for Spanish overfishing of mackerel
12. Commission confirms three Dutch marine conservation zones
13. Stop fishing notices published for several fleet segments
14. EU Fisheries Agency to collaborate with Croatia on improved bluefin controls
15. EU Fisheries Control Agency adopts 2013 plan and budget (EUR9.2 million)
16. EU Environment Commissioner Potocnik wants EU support for CITES changes
17. EU Parliament publishes study on global tuna sourcing for PNG and Fiji
18. EU approves new protocol to the Greenland Fisheries Partnership Agreement
19. EU sets new annual deadlines for transfers of unused Greenland quota
20. EU adopts 3 year Fisheries Partnership Protocol with Kiribati
21. EU ratifies Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritius
22. Commission to provide EUR13.5 million for fisheries data systems
23. Commission leaders speak on EU Integrated Maritime Policy and blue economy
24. Commissioner Damanaki says Arctic peoples should have say on development
25. Italy notifies three state aid schemes for the fisher sector
26. Denmark notifies state supported loans to auction operator
27. Commission approves protected designations for carp and fish sauce

Fish hygiene

28. 58 RASFF Alerts for fishery products announced by the Commission
29. EU authorises import of fishery products from Greenland without certification
30. EU authorises imports of fishery products from Curašao and Sint Maarten
31. Ph˙ Qu?c fish sauce recognised by EU as a protected designation of origin
32. FVO reports on Malaysia; concerns over technical capacity of some inspectors
33. FVO reports on bivalve controls in Netherlands; public health risks identified
34. FVO reports on UK bivalve molluscs; concerns over monitoring frequency
35. Commission relaxes Fukushima testing regime, but fish still to be tested
36. EU passes positive list of authorised flavourings and transitional measures
37. Commission reports on progress assessing safety of flavourings by 2015
38. Commission publishes list of national food hygiene guidelines
39. European Standards Organisation publishes draft fish traceability standards
40. European Standards Organisation invites global seafood sector to test its traceability systems
41. Commission to put disease controls on olive flounder imports

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers met and agreed a on some elements of the Commission's proposal for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) within the framework of the CFP reform package. The proposed financial envelope for the EMFF will amount to EUR6.5 billion for the period 2014 to 2020. Ministers voted to maintain fleet restructuring measures up to 2017, within a cap of 15% or EUR6 million per Member State. More money will be available to subsidise aquaculture and more selective fishing gears. The European Commission said that the decision does not go as far as the Commission had recommended, but will put an end to the ineffective subsidies of the past by phasing out support for the scrapping of vessels, and caps subsidies for vessels. The Commission is still arguing for more specific focus for priority to measures that improve sustainability of fisheries, such as scientific advice and control, and increased selectivity..

2. The EU's Assembly of Regional and Local Representatives, the Committee of the Regions gave an opinion on the Commission's proposals for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The Committee believes that rather than prioritise investment into alternative marine-related commercial activities the fund should continue to be used for the fishing fleet adjustments, such as the provision of aid for the scrapping of vessels. The Commission's proposal would abolish financing for fleet adjustment. The Committee also opposes plans to make the transfer of fishing concessions obligatory, and proposes a gradual introduction of any ban on discarding of fish.

3. At the Conference "Future Fisheries" held in Brussels on 3 October 2012, Mrs.Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, gave a speech on the need to maintain progress on strengthened fisheries management. She mentioned some of the successes and initiatives being taken. The number of stocks fished at MSY levels has increased from 5 in 2009 to 27 in 2012 and the Commission has moved to strengthen the EU's controls on shark finning, as well as introducing regulations on deep seas fishing. She expressed her hope that the Parliament and Council would maintain the pace of reform in their deliberations on the Common Fisheries Policy.

4. The European Commission proposed fishing opportunities for the EU's deep-sea fish stocks for 2013-2014. In line with the scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase total allowable catches (TACs) for 3 stocks, a decrease for 13 stocks, and to maintain TACs at the current level for 8 stocks (including zero TACs for 6 stocks). TACs would increase for roundnose grenadiers and two black scabbard stocks in western waters. Taking the precautionary approach, the Commission proposes to cut by 20% the red seabream and blue ling TACs, as the conservation status of these stocks is not fully assessed.

5. The EU's Council of Fisheries Ministers reached a political agreement on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2013. They adopted the objective of achieving fisheries at MSY levels by 2015 for almost all stocks. Three of the Baltic stocks will continue to be fished at MSY levels (Western herring, Eastern cod, sprat) whilst three other stocks pursue their progress towards reaching this target by 2015 (Central herring, Gulf of Riga herring, Gulf of Bothnia herring).

6. The European Commission proposed fishing opportunities (TACs) for 2013 for fish stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 16 stocks (including certain stocks of cod, Norway lobster, and sole), and reduce them for 47 stocks. The proposal is based on the aim of having all stocks fished at the level which delivers Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), by 2015.

7. The European Economic and Social Committee gave its views on the Commission's proposals for conservation of the Baltic cod stocks. The Committee stated that it is not in favour of delegating legislative power to the Commission to determine fishing mortality rates, believing that this power should be retained by the Council.

8. The EU Fisheries Ministers discussed the EU's position with regard to the forthcoming November meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), with a view to seeking an increase in bluefin tuna TACs.

9. The Commission passed a regulation increasing the 2012-2013 French quotas for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay, to account for 636 tonnes of unused quota during the 2011-2012 fishing season.

10. The Commission passed a decision to allow Spain to increase the number of days at sea allocated to vessels operating certain fishing gears (including trawl gears) in ICES VIII and IX areas, to 157 days/year, due to permanent withdrawal of eight vessels from this fleet segment.

11. The Commission adjusted the deductions made to the 2011-2014 mackerel quotas for Spain, due to overfishing in 2010, when Spain caught nearly 20,000 tonnes over its allocated quota. Overall deductions are double the amount overfished, but spread over four years.

12. The Commission passed a decision confirming the decision by the Netherlands to establish three conservation zones to preserve marine ecosystems in the North Sea Coastal Zone, the Vlakte van de Raan and the Voordelta, which include non-discriminatory measures to limit fisheries activities.

13. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission, due to exhaustion of quota, for fishing by longline vessels from Cyprus fishing for bluefin tuna, Swedish vessels fishing for common sole and cod, Belgian vessels fishing for plaice; UK, Estonian, Latvian, Spanish, French and Lithuanian vessels fishing for redfish, Spanish vessels fishing for anchovy, and United Kingdom vessels fishing for cod, herring, and Greenland Halibut.

14. The European Fisheries Control Agency met with the Croatian Authorities in Split (Croatia) in order to establish a roadmap on future cooperation in fisheries control, in view of the expected Croatian accession to the European Union in July 2013. Several actions are proposed, with a significant focus on Croatian participation in the Bluefin tuna joint deployment plan. Other joint actions will include exchange of data and inspectors, and training.

15. The European Fisheries Control Agency adopted its Multi-annual Work Programme for 2013-2017 and the Annual Work Programme for 2013. Core activities will be the implementation of the Joint Deployment Plans on cod and salmon in the Baltic Sea, cod in North Sea and part of Western Waters, pelagic fisheries in Western Waters, NAFO and NEAFC regulatory areas and species, bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic. Operational support will also be provided to Bulgaria and Romania for the monitoring of turbot fisheries. The budget for 2013 was set at EUR9.2 million (no change on 2012).

16. Mr. Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for Environment gave a speech "Ending the abuse of the marine environment" to the Fisheries Committee meeting of the European Parliament. He argued for a robust approach by the EU to agreeing on strengthened implementation of the CITES Convention in respect of certification of species harvested on the high seas. DG ENV is seeking for this to be the exclusive duty of the flag state, a position which is opposed by China, Japan and Argentina. He also argued for the integration of resource efficiency and environmental targets into all of the EU's policies. These targets should address issues such as biodiversity, marine litter, the health of commercial fish species and underwater noise, in line with the environmental targets being developed under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

17. The European Parliament has published a study on the potential impacts of proposed changes to allow tuna processors in the Pacific region to source raw materials from global suppliers, without losing their preferential access to the EU market for these products. The study found that there was a measurable economic benefit to the third countries concerned, but some negative impacts on competing third countries (for example in Latin America, and Indian Ocean).

18. The European Council of Ministers approved the signing of the new protocol to the EU's Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Greenland, to apply from 1st January 2013.

19. At the same time, the Council also setting out the new annual deadlines for EU Member States not utilising their fishing opportunities under the EU-Greenland Fisheries Partnership Agreement, by which time the quota may be offered by the Commission to other Member States. Deadlines are established between 1 August and 31 October (depending on the stock).

20. The EU adopted the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Kiribati, setting out the fishing opportunities for EU vessels during the period 2012-2015. The Protocol provides access to up to 15,000 tonnes of highly migratory fish species, by EU four purse seine vessels and six longline vessels. The opportunities were allocated to Spain, France, and Portugal.

21. The EU also adopted the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritius, which provides fishing opportunities for 41 purse seiners and 45 longline vessels. These were allocated to Spain, France, Portugal and UK.

22. The European Commission announced the 2012 financial contributions to be made to Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the United Kingdom for the collection, management and use of fisheries data. The EU will contribute EUR13.5 million out of a total expenditure by these Member States of EUR27.1 million on fisheries data collection and analysis.

23. At a Conference between the Commission and the EU Presidency (currently Cyprus) on EU Integrated Maritime Policy held in Limassol, Mrs.Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, gave a speech highlighting the achievements in the first 5 years of the policy. She focused on the integration of fisheries, environmental, and economic development objectives for the Arctic, the Atlantic, the Baltic and other sea-basins, and set out the new maritime agenda, for investment and research, in opportunities within the blue economy. Commission President, Barroso, also gave a speech welcoming the EU's integrated maritime policy as an important pillar of Europe's 2020 strategy, helping target strategic investment on those economic sectors with the greatest growth potential.

24. At the Conference ""Arctic Futures: A global partnership for the Arctic" Mrs.Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, gave a speech setting out EU policy on the Arctic Region. She outlined the opportunities presented by the prospect of an ice free Arctic; offshore drilling, shipping, fishing, and mineral extraction all provide new options for economic development, but also come with responsibilities towards the environment and the indigenous peoples. The latter, in her opinion, should have the first say on these issues.

25. Italy has notified the Commission of its intention to provide state aids for several operators. A subsidy will be provided for the trawl sector in the Regione Abruzzo of EUR 780,000/year, due to forced reduction of activities (since there are no funds left within the allocation for this purpose, under the European Fisheries Fund). EUR 500,000 will be provided in 2011 to fund the retirement of elderly fishermen, and "support the development of businesses started by young people in the fisheries and aquaculture sector". Italy will also provide public funding of EUR 200,000 over 2 years to support the San Vito Cooperative with investments in equipment and infrastructure.

26. Denmark also gave notice to the Commission of a state aid scheme, which will provide DKK 300 million in loans and guarantees to help the auction company VŠkstkaution, to upgrade its facilities.

27. The European Commission confirmed the protected designation "Frńnkischer Karpfen" for carp originating from specified regions of Germany. It also approved Vietnam's application to register the name 'Phu Quoc' as a protected designation of origin for fish sauce.

Fish hygiene

28. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 58 consignments of fishery products, including 2 consignments of mussels from Spain, 3 consignments of canned tuna from Thailand, 4 consignments of sardines from Morocco, 2 consignments of chilled monkfish from Denmark, and 2 consignments of monkfish from the UK.

29. The European Parliament approved a Regulation authorising the import of fishery products from Greenland in accordance with European Union legal acts on trade within the Union. The Competent Authority in Greenland has provided official assurances to the Commission in respect of the adoption and enforcement of compliance with the Union food safety and animal health requirements throughout its territory, and in respect of imports from third countries. The measure will come into force on the listing of the first Border Inspection Post in Greenland meeting EU requirements. As a result, imports of fishery products from Greenland will not be required to submit to the normal requirements applied to imports from third countries and Greenland will be able to participate in the single market.

30. The Commission passed a decision authorising imports of fishery products to the EU from the territory of Curašao and Sint Maarten, following the abolition of the Netherlands Antilles within the Kingdom of Netherlands. Curašao and Sint Maarten are now considered to be autonomous countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Decision follows the presentation by the competent authorities of Curašao and Sint Maarten of the necessary information to the Commission to prove that the sanitary control system in place in those autonomous countries provides sufficient guarantees of compliance.

31. Vietnam's application to the Commission to register the name 'Ph˙ Qu?c' as a protected designation of origin for this excellent fish sauce product, was accepted, and published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

32. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission in May 2012, to audit sanitary controls for fishery products exported from Malaysia to the EU, following up on a previous mission in 2010. The EU inspectors found that whilst several of the deficiencies had been addressed, there are still outstanding non-compliances in relation to the standards and legislation for control of fishery products and knowledge levels of inspectors responsible for landing sites. In addition, two non-compliant establishments were listed as approved, and there were concerns raised regarding the integrity of the electronic certification system.

33. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission in April 2012, to audit official controls of bivalve molluscs and similar animals in the Netherlands. The mission found that coordination between the two competent authorities (the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the Dutch Fish Product Board) was not conducted in an efficient and effective manner. They had divergent views on the interpretation of legislation and their individual roles, with overlapping of responsibilities and absence of cooperation. The mission also identified public health concerns regarding the effectiveness of purification systems for a large volume of bivalve molluscs originating in other EU Member States, which typically originate from class B production areas, where hazards such as norovirus have been identified. The FVO recommended that the effectiveness of purification systems be assessed regularly.

34. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission in May 2012, to audit official controls of bivalve molluscs and similar animals in the UK. The mission found that the controls are carried out mostly in compliance with the EU requirements. However some non-compliances were noted, related to the classification of class B production areas, frequency of phytoplankton monitoring, official end product testing and food business operators compliance with the EU hygiene requirements for food premises. Weakness were also identified in relation to the location of sampling points, risk assessments on toxins, and insufficient controls on Pectinidae (scallops) harvested outside classified production areas.

35. The Commission approved a Regulation replacing the regime of specific controls of imports for food and freed from Japan, to protect consumers against the risk of radioactive materials in foodstuffs, following updated monitoring results. Import restrictions are lifted on certain alcoholic beverages, and all feed and food originating in the prefectures of Yamanashi and Shizuoka. Sampling and analysis is still required for all feed and food from Fukushima, and for fishery products, and certain other products, from the prefectures of Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Saitama, Tokyo, Iwate, Chiba and Kanagawa.

36. The European Commission passed a Regulation setting out, for the first time, the positive list of approximately 2,100 flavourings authorised for use in foods, and their FL numbers. The use of some approved flavourings in certain foods (including, in some cases, fishery products) is subject to restrictions on their use (for example maximum limits). The Commission also published transitional measures for flavouring materials which are presently on the market but which are not yet approved. Unless approved by October 2016 they will need to be withdrawn from use.

37. The Commission also announced its progress on reviewing and authorising flavouring substances for use in foods, with a view to introducing a harmonised approach across the EU market. A total of around 2,800 flavourings are used on the EU market, of which 2100 have already undergone evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority and have been awarded FL numbers. The aim is to complete the process by 2015.

38. The Commission has published a list of national guidelines to good hygienic practices published by EI Member State Competent Authorities and other recognised bodies.

39. The European Standards Organisation (CEN) announced that its FishBizz project (Integration of Standards for Traceability and Sale of Seafood Products) has released a draft working document on traceability monitoring of quality and sales of fish products. CEN is inviting public comment on the document by 27 November 2012, as part of the development of CEN Traceability standard for fishery products.

40. The European Standards Organisation also announced that it is inviting seafood product buyers, sellers and traceability solution providers worldwide to test the inter-operability of the CEN fish traceability system. Proposals are invited from operators to test systems for dispatch advice, traceability requests and third party traceability notifications, and report findings to the CEN FishBizz Project.

41. The Commission and Member States discussed the application for the import into the EU of live olive flounder from Korea. The species is susceptible to the fish disease VHS and will need to be listed as such in Directive 2006/88/EC, to allow controls to be put in place. The Commission will present a legal text.

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