FishFiles Lite Newsletter
. - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . by MEGAPESCA

FishFiles Lite is a free newsletter summarising key developments in EU fisheries and fish trade policy and legislation and is currently being received by over 15,000 fisheries professionals each month.

To upgrade to FishFiles Professional and receive full access to the information summarised in this newsletter and also to be able to search for, and download, files from the Megapesca website, which now contains over 5,000 files, go to:


December 2012

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Fisheries Ministers sets 2013 TACS for North Sea and Atlantic based on 2015 MSY target
2. Cod recovery plan amended to allow higher cod TACs to be set
3. Fisheries Ministers set TACs for Black Sea; no change on 2012 in spite of scientific advice
4. Fisheries Ministers set the 2013 fishing opportunities for deep sea fish stocks
5. Commission amends revised 2012 fish quotas due to overfishing by EU fleets in 2011
6. European Parliament supports key elements of proposed CFP reform
7. CFP reform to be a priority for the Ireland Presidency in 2013
8. EU to maintain 12 mile exclusive fishery zones for Member States
9. Commission consults on extended role of Regional Advisory Councils, including aquaculture
10. EU's Committee of the Regions amazed at lack of subsidies for multi-year fisheries plans
11. Commission publishes 2012 Facts and Figures on the Common Fisheries Policy
12. EU Member States support requirement to land sharks with their fins attached
13. Stop fishing notices published for numerous EU fleet segments
14. Commission publishes new list naming IUU vessels
15. Commission launches specific control and inspection programme for EU pelagic fisheries
16. Vessel operators to receive 90% of installation cost of new vessel monitoring technologies
17. EU to provide EUR20.2 million for five national fisheries data collection programmes
18. SEAFO adopts new control measures, but only partially follows advice on TACs and quotas
19. WCPFC extends closed season for Fish Aggregating Devices but rejects extra monitoring
20. EU approves EU-Mauritania fisheries Protocol at a cost of EUR70 million/year
21. EU renews EU and Madagascar fisheries Protocol at cost of EUR1.5 million/ year
22. European Parliament seeks participation in management of EU-Seychelles protocol
23. European Parliament approves Protocol with São Tomé and Príncipe; seeks participation
24. EU agrees to annual tariff quotas of 10,000 tonnes non-originating tuna from ESA countries
25. EU sets the 2013 guide prices for certain fishery products subject to withdrawal subsidies
26. Commission launches maritime strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas
27. EU Committee of the Regions wants Atlantic Maritime Strategy to be renamed
28. EU Committee of the Regions wants visible role for Baltic Sea municipal and regional bodies
29. EU conference on aquaculture sets strategic priorities
30. EU PISCES Project produces "Guidelines for an ecosystem approach in marine policy"
31. Commission publishes Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe and FARNET magazines

Fish hygiene

32. Twenty Five rapid alerts notified to the Commission for non-compliant fishery products
33. DG SANCO reports on mission to Morocco; bivalve controls not reliable
34. European Food Safety Authority amends advice on organic mercury exposure from fish
35. Commission amends fish disease zone controls in Germany, Denmark and Finland
36. Commission and Member States publish guidelines on aquatic ecotoxicology of pesticides
37. DG Environment issues guidelines on management of aquaculture in Natura 2000 zones

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Meeting of the Council of Fisheries Ministers, held in Brussels on 18/19 December 2012, decided on fishing opportunities for 2013 for the main commercial fish stocks of the Atlantic and the North Sea. The setting of the total allowable catches (TACs) was based on a political agreement to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) by 2015 for the great majority of the stocks for which scientific advice is available. To avoid excessive discards, the setting of MSY for four such stocks will be reached by 2017. The corresponding regulations will be drafted and adopted at a future meeting. Following the decisions of the Council of Fisheries Ministers, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, said: "The Commission proposal was more ambitious but I think the outcome is satisfactory".

2. The European Council set new annual TACs and, fishing effort limitations under the long-term plan for management of cod stocks in the Kattegat, the North Sea, the Skagerrak and the eastern Channel; the west of Scotland; and the Irish Sea. The regulation makes provision for suspension of the automatic yearly TAC reductions of 25%, to allow more flexibility to reflect the scientific advice on a case by case basis. The adoption of the regulation paved the way for the Council to approve higher TACs than would be permitted under the plan.

3. The meeting of the December Fisheries Council also approved the TACs and quotas for species subject to management in the Black Sea in 2013. The EU quota for turbot was held at 86.4 tonnes (the Commission had proposed a 15% cut in line with scientific advice). For sprat, the EU quota is also unchanged, at 11,475 tonnes in line with scientific advice. The EU quota for turbot is divided evenly between Bulgaria and Romania. For sprat, Bulgaria and Romania's national quotas are set at 70 and 30 % of the total EU quota, respectively.

4. The meeting of the December Fisheries Council also set the 2013 fishing opportunities, in terms of TACs and quotas, for EU vessels exploiting deep sea fish stocks. These include Black scabbardfish, Alfonsinos, Roundnose grenadier, Orange roughy, Red seabream, and Greater Forkbeard as well as 17 species of deep sea sharks.

5. Following consultations with Member States, the Commission revised the amended fish quotas for 2012, to account for overfishing of quotas in 2011. In some cases the adjustments required are larger than the quota available and in others cases no quota is available. As a consequence, the adjustments cannot be fully applied on that quota so they are made to quotas of other stocks exploited by that Member States in the same geographical area, or with a similar commercial value.

6. The Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament voted on 18 December 2012 to support the key elements of the Commission's proposal for a new Common Fisheries Policy. Amendments endorsing legal obligations to end discards and to manage fish stocks according to maximum sustainable yield targets, as well as more regionalised decision-making were adopted by comfortable majorities. The decisions were welcomed by the European Commission.

7. Following the above Decisions of the EU Parliament, the Commission has issued a press release setting out the status of the reform of the CFP, and looking forward to the prospects for agreement on the legislative packages during 2013, thus allowing the reforms to enter into force by 2014 at the latest. Three Commission proposals for new laws are still under negotiation: the new CFP, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and the Common Market Organization. On the external fisheries policy pillar of the reform, both the Council and the Parliament have given their views in separate actions (in March and November 2012 respectively) and both endorse the approach proposed by the Commission. Ireland, which will hold the Presidency of the Council in the first half of 2013, has made the CFP reform a priority.

8. The EU decided to extend the derogation from the equal access rule granted to Member States which authorises them to restrict fishing to certain vessels in waters up to 12 nautical miles from their baselines (which was to expire on 31 December 2012). This means that until the end of 2014 Member States may continue to maintain exclusive access to fisheries within the 12 mile access, should they wish to do so.

9. The European Commission held consultations with the Regional Advisory Councils for fisheries on their future role and a possible governance framework under a reformed CFP. The consultations are expected to be concluded in the spring of 2013, and have also included representatives of the aquaculture sector (since the Commission has proposed the creation of an Advisory Council on Aquaculture). The aim of the consultations is to move towards devolved fisheries management decision making, at a local sea basin level, which will directly involve local fishermen and stakeholders.

10. The EU's Committee of the Regions published its opinions on the Commission's proposals for the European Fisheries and Maritime Fund. It supports the proposals for the fund, but proposes that the fund objectives be focused on fishing only and not on its replacement by other activities. It condemns the proposal to abolish fleet adjustment subsidies, since the progressive achievement of MSY will require decommissioning or temporary stoppages. It also expresses amazement at the lack of funding for the preparation of multi-year fisheries plans.

11. The Commission published the 2012 edition of Facts and Figures on the Common Fisheries Policy. It covers the characteristics of the EU fishery sector from catching, processing, trade, aquaculture, markets, structural issues, consumption and the role of the EU.

12. The Permanent Representatives of Member States expressed support for a regulation which will require that all sharks be landed with their fins attached. This clears the way for removal of the current loophole to the ban on shark finning, whereby shark fins can be removed from the carcasses (with the fins and the remainder of the shark being landed together or separately) subject to certain ratios being observed.

13. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Danish vessels fishing for ling, Portuguese vessels fishing for white marlin, bigeye tuna, blue whiting, plaice and mackerel, Swedish vessels fishing for cod , and saithe, German vessels fishing for herring and hake, UK vessels fishing for whiting, Spanish vessels fishing for blue marlin and Dutch vessels fishing for skates and rays.

14. The Commission has published an updated and consolidated list of named IUU vessels as reported by Regional Fisheries Management Organizations.

15. The Commission passed a decision setting out the parameters of a specific control and inspection programme for monitoring and control of pelagic fisheries in Western Waters of the North East Atlantic (herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, anchovy and blue whiting). This is to be established for the period from 1 January 2013 to 31 December 2015 and implemented by Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. The Decision sets the objectives, priorities, risk management strategy, risk assessment procedures, target benchmarks and implementation modalities.

16. The Commission allocated its unused EU budget set aside for co-financing of fisheries control programmes implemented by Member States in 2012. This will be used to provide for an additional EUR30.2 million worth of projects aimed at installation of new technologies & IT networks, automatic localisation devices and electronic recording and reporting systems. Overall, the EU will contribute EUR 27 million of planned expenditure by Member States of EUR106 million. Vessel operators installing new technology will receive up to 90% of the eligible costs.

17. The Commission set the European Union financial contribution to national programmes of five Member States (Ireland, Spain, France, Malta and Portugal) for the collection, management and use of fisheries data. The EU will provide 50% of the EUR40.4 million budgeted expenditure of these member states. Spain and France get the biggest share (EUR7.8 million and EUR7.5 million respectively).

18. The South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO), which is responsible for the regulation and management of non-tuna species in the South-East Atlantic high seas, adopted a number of conservation and management measures at its 9th Annual session held in Busan, Republic of Korea. A new system of Observation, Inspection, Compliance and Enforcement was introduced, although a decision regarding inspection at sea was deferred until 2013. Advice from the Scientific Committee was adopted in setting the TACs for Red Crab, Orange Roughy, Alfonsino and Patagonian Toothfish. However scientific advice was not followed in respect of the identification of vulnerable marine ecosystems and precautionary TAC levels for Armourhead.

19. The 9th plenary session of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) was held from 2 to 6 December in Manila. The meeting adopted a stronger Conservation and Management Measure for tropical tunas, including an extension of the closed seasons for the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs). However the measures were only adopted for one year and the WCPFC did not agree on a joint US/EU proposal for strengthening the monitoring of FAD usage. An EU proposal for minimum standards on port state measures and on improved transparency on access agreements was also rejected.

20. Following the expiry of the current protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania on 31 July 2012, and negotiations between the parties, the Council has authorized the signature of a new Protocol to provide access to EU vessels to the Mauritanian zone for a period of two years. The annual financial contribution for access by European Union is set at EUR67 million, with an additional annual financial grant of EUR3 million towards the implementation of sectoral fishing policy. The protocol contains new provisions that the fishing opportunities allocated to EU fleets shall be provided from available surpluses, and shall have priority over fishing opportunities allocated to other foreign fleets authorised to fish in Mauritanian fishing zones. Fishing opportunities are defined in detail for nine fleet segments: fishing vessels specialising in crustaceans other than spiny lobster and crab, black hake (non-freezer) trawlers and bottom longliners, vessels fishing for demersal species other than black hake with gear other than trawls, crabs, tuna seiners, pole-and-line tuna vessels and surface longliners, pelagic freezer trawlers, non-freezer pelagic vessels, and cephalopods.

21. The EU Council decided to renew the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Madagascar, which was initialled on 10 May 2012. The renewal will provide fishing opportunities for 96 vessels (40 tuna seiners, 34 surface longliners with a tonnage greater than 100 GT and 22 surface longliners with a tonnage less than 100 GT). The financial compensation is to be EUR975,000/ year (equivalent to a reference tonnage of 15,000 tonnes) which is to be supplemented by EUR550,000 per year in respect of implementation of Madagascar's sectoral fisheries policy. The Protocol will apply from 1 January 2013. The Council also passed a Regulation allocating the tuna seiner opportunities to Spain, France and Italy and the surface longline opportunities to Spain, France, Portugal and the UK.

22. The European Parliament passed a resolution approving the draft Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Republic of Seychelles. However it also requested an increased role for the Parliament in Joint Committee meetings, and that the Commission prepare a report on piracy in the Seychelles EEZ between 2006 and 2010, and its effect on Seychelles and EU fishing operations.

23. The European Parliament passed a resolution approving the draft Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also requested an increased role for the Parliament in Joint Committee meetings.

24. The EU published a Decision of the ESA-EU Customs Cooperation Committee regarding a derogation of the requirement under the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Eastern and Southern Africa States that canned and preserved tuna exported to the EU from ESA countries be wholly originating (ie. caught by vessels flying the flag of one of these countries). The Agreement will permit the export from Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar of 8,000 tonnes per annum of preserved tuna and 2,000 tonnes per annum of tuna loins derived from non-originating raw materials, for the period 2013 to 2017.

25. The EU set the 2013 guide prices for certain fishery products subject to subsidies for withdrawal from the market. The guide prices form the reference for the subsequent fixing of the different technical parameters needed for the operation of the intervention mechanisms. The measure will result in guide price adjustments of between -1% and +3%. The producer price for tuna products will rise by +2%.

26. The European Commission announced the launch of a maritime strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, intended to boost smart, sustainable and inclusive growth in the region. The strategy rests on 4 pillars: a stronger blue economy, a healthier marine environment, a safer maritime space, and responsible fishing activities. Measures will include stimulating the creation of maritime clusters and research, increasing skills and mobility of the workforce, optimising transport links, supporting sustainable coastal and maritime tourism, development of aquaculture, reducing marine litter, and modernising fishing activities through better compliance, conservation, transfer of information and cooperation on enforcement and control.

27. The EU's Committee of the Regions published its opinions on the Atlantic Maritime Strategy. Although it welcomes the strategy, it wants it to better reflect the links to the land, and therefore proposes it be re-titled as "An Integrated Strategy for the Atlantic Ocean Area"; it also disagrees with the proposed abolition of the Atlantic Forum and demands that a multi-level governance approach be applied.

28. The EU's Committee of the Regions published its opinions on the EU Baltic Sea regional strategy. It calls for increased cooperation with non-EU countries, especially Russia, as a key to the strategy's success; it also expresses concern that municipal and regional bodies lack visibility in the strategy, and calls for clarification of the contribution of national Structural Fund programmes in the strategy.

29. Following the November 2012 conference in La Coruña (Galicia, Spain) on European aquaculture, together with the Spanish and Galician governments, the European Commission issued a press release summarizing the outcome. The aim was to gather suggestions from Member States, producers and stakeholders for the future "Strategic guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture". Four areas of special importance were identified for inclusion in the Strategic Guidelines: (1) to simplify administrative procedures, in particular for licencing; (2) to secure allocation of water and space for freshwater and marine aquaculture in coordinated spatial planning; (3) to promote business diversification to provide additional sources of income and sustainable aquaculture growth; (4) to utilise all competitive factors, such as the European Union's high production standards.

30. The Commission announced that the EU PISCES Project (Partnerships involving Stakeholders in the Celtic Sea Ecosystem) has produced "Guidelines for an ecosystem approach in marine policy". This has a particular focus on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and highlights the need for marine spatial planning, with special reference to Celtic Sea stakeholders.

31. The European Commission published the latest edition of its magazine Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe. Articles cover the EU's maritime policy and blue growth, a profile of seabream and mussels, and their markets, and a review of the Limassol declaration (a 20 point marine and maritime agenda for growth and jobs adopted by EU maritime ministers in October 2012). The European Fisheries Area network (FARNET) which supports fisheries local action groups under the EUs Fisheries Fund, also published the latest edition of its magazine.

Fish hygiene

32. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for three consignments of bivalve molluscs and products thereof, four consignments of cephalopods, one consignment of crustaceans, and 17 consignments of fish and fish products including chilled swordfish from USA, chilled cod liver from Denmark, frozen nile perch from Tanzania and frozen monkfish from China.

33. The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Morocco in June 2012, with a view to assessing the status of official controls of fishery products and live bivalve molluscs exported to the EU. The mission concluded that the official checks concerning fishery products afford a guarantee that the fishery products exported to the EU correspond to the statements made on their export health certificates. However, in relation to bivalve molluscs, the mission identified a number of important shortcomings in relation to classification of production areas, frequency of monitoring for shellfish toxins, and accreditation of laboratories in which shellfish hazards are analysed. All of these were raised in a previous audit in 2009 and suggest that the reliability of the control system is questionable. Recommendations were made to the Moroccan central competent authority (ONSSA) in order to rectify the non-conformities observed.

34. The European Food Safety Authority issued a press release regarding updated advice on mercury in foods. At the request of the European Commission, EFSA's Scientific Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM Panel) considered new scientific information on impacts of fish consumption regarding the toxicity of mercury and evaluated provisional Tolerable Weekly Intakes (TWI) established previously by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). For inorganic mercury, the EFSA CONTAM Panel established a TWI for of 4 µg/kg body weight (bw) which is in line with JECFA. For organic methylmercury, the panel found that fish meat and in particular tuna, swordfish, cod, whiting and pike were major contributors to methylmercury dietary exposure in the adult age groups. New data from a Faroe Islands cohort study indicated that the association between prenatal exposure and neurological auditory function was still present at 14 years, but with a smaller impact than at seven years. Furthermore there is evidence that beneficial nutrients in fish (omega 3 fatty acids) may have confounded previous adverse outcomes in child cohort studies. Based on this the Panel has therefore proposed a TWI for methylmercury of 1.3 µg/kg bw, which is lower than JECFA's 1.6 µg/kg bw. The Panel advises that if measures to reduce methylmercury exposure are to be considered by risk managers, the potential beneficial effects of fish consumption should however also be taken into account.

35. The Commission amended the list of Member States, zones and compartments subject to approved surveillance programmes for certain diseases of aquaculture animals and those which are declared to be disease-free. Three regions in Germany, Denmark and Finland are now subject to surveillance programmes. Furthermore Finland, with the exception of the Province of Åland, was declared free of viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS).

36. The Commission in co-operation with the Member States has published a working document on the interpretation of the aquatic ecotoxicology sections of Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991, concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market. It sets out the approach to risk assessment of pesticides in terms of impacts on the aquatic environment, and is intended to support the development of decision-making criteria for the authorisation of plant protection products by EU Member States.

37. DG Environment announced the issue of new guidelines "Guidance on Aquaculture and Natura 2000 Sustainable Aquaculture Activities" to improve understanding of how aquaculture can be carried out within the framework of Natura 2000, the EU-wide network of protected natural areas. The guidelines focus on the implementation of environmental assessments, the different potential impacts of aquaculture on the environment, the need for strategic planning of aquaculture development, and specific steps required for compliance with the EU Habitats Directive.

  • FishFiles Lite is a free service provided by MegaPesca. To receive this newsletter free of charge every month send your name and e-mail address to the FishFiles Manager at
  • To upgrade to FishFiles Professional and receive full access to the information summarised in this newsletter and also to be able to search and download files from the Megapesca website which now contains over 5,000 files contact the FishFiles Manager at
  • Whilst we use our best efforts to provide accurate information in this newsletter, MegaPesca is not responsible for the results of any inaccuracies or omissions which may be found to exist in the information provided, or any loss of profits or other consequential damages that may result from actions or omissions based on the information supplied. Readers are advised that only the European Union legislation published in the paper editions of the Official Journal of the European Communities is deemed authentic.
  • To Contact MegaPesca:
    Tel: +351 262 990372, Fax: +351 262 990496
    Rua Gago Coutinho 11, Valado de Santa Quitéria, Alfeizerão 2460-207 PORTUGAL