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February 2013

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council agrees implementation dates for discard bans
2. European Commission welcomes EU Parliament vote for maximum sustainable yield from 2015.
3. European Commission publishes questions and answers on CFP reform
4. Fisheries Commissioner Damanaki announces Interpol Fisheries Crime Working Group
5. European Parliament comments on long-term plan for cod fisheries
6. European Parliament comments on technical measures in Baltic Sea fisheries
7. European Commission approves pelagic fish sampling plans
8. Fishing in some areas of Baltic Sea excluded from cod management plan requirements
9. EU and Mauritania agree to allow increased discards on EU shrimp vessels operating under FPA
10. Council adjusts Spanish and Portuguese fish quotas due to overfishing in previous years
11. European Commission publishes information on state aids in Italy and Spain
12. Parliament questions proposal to remove origin labeling of fishery products
13. Commissioner Damanaki, sets out "Blue growth" agenda
14. Commissioner Damanaki, visits Ukraine for discussions regarding shared Black Sea fisheries
15. NAFO to recruit new Executive Secretary

Fish hygiene

16. Fifty nine rapid alerts notified to the Commission for non-compliant fishery products
17. DG SANCO reports on Vietnam; exports detected from unlisted cold stores
18. Commission accepts Pakistan's guarantees; exports to EU to resume in March 2013.
19. Commission authorizes probiotic bacterium Pediococcus acidilactici in fish feed
20. Commission publishes information on labeling of foods
21. "Better Training for Safer Food" nominates Member State contact points

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council meeting of February took place in Brussels on 25 and 26 February 2013, under the presidency of Mr.Simon Coveney, Irish Minister of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The Council made a series of decision on discards, including setting dates for implementing the discard ban starting in 2014 for pelagic fish, and running to 2017 for the Mediterranean and Black Sea (and 2019 for some other species). However a de minimis exemption rate of 7% was adopted for discarding permitted within the frame of agreed management plans. More discussions are required to reach agreement on landing obligations, maximum sustainable yield (MSY) as a compulsory reference for fisheries management, regionalised decision-making, and individually transferable fishing quotas. Representatives of the Parliament's Committee on Fisheries, of the Council's presidency and of the European Commission will begin tri-party discussions next month aimed at reaching a compromise on all items of the reform by the end of the presidency in June.

2. The European Commission welcomed the vote by the European Parliament to support by a significant majority the Commission's proposals for reform of the Common Fisheries Policy, including the objective of achieving maximum sustainable yield from 2015.

3. The European Commission published a new set of questions and answers on the reform of the CFP, setting the main elements of the Commission's proposals. It explains some of the main proposals in relation to multi-annual ecosystem-based management, banning discards, making fishing profitable, support for small-scale fisheries, developing sustainable aquaculture and improving scientific knowledge.

4. At the 8th International Forum on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing, Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries made a speech setting out the EUs record on tackling illegal fishing. She highlighted the warning issued by the Commission in 2012 to eight third countries (Belize, Cambodia, Fiji, Guinea, Panama, Sri Lanka, Togo and Vanuatu) that they will end up on a trade black list if they do not swiftly start cooperating in the fight against IUU fishing, and called on flag states to meet their international obligations. She also announced that Interpol is setting up a Fisheries Crime Working Group to bring IUU pirates to justice.

5. The European Parliament's Economic and Social Committee published its 2012 comments on the proposed Regulation establishing a long-term plan for cod fisheries. In general the Regulation was welcomed, with some specific reservations regarding determination of stock baselines, data deficient stocks, catch composition requirements and discard reduction measures.

6. The European Parliament's Economic and Social Committee published its 2012 comments on the proposed Regulation establishing technical conservation measures to Baltic Sea fisheries. The Regulation was fully endorsed without reservation by the Parliament.

7. The Commission approved the sampling and control plans for the weighing of fishery products submitted by Bulgaria, Latvia, Sweden, Slovenia, France, Ireland and Netherlands. The plans allow for verification by Member State authorities of weights calculated by sampling and by measures made onboard fishing vessels, mostly in relation to small pelagic fish.

8. The European Commission passed a Regulation excluding certain areas of the Baltic Sea from the multiannual plan for the management of cod stocks, due to the low levels of catches in those areas.

9. The EU-Mauritania Joint Committee, under the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Protocol, took place on 19-20 February in Paris. The parties agreed to convene a Joint Scientific Committee with the aim of updating the status of all fish stocks, including cephalopods, as well as examining other technical measures for various fisheries. Technical conditions for EU vessels were adjusted with the aim of making the Protocol more economically viable, including the increase of permitted by-catch for EU shrimp vessels and the extension of the southern pelagic zone.

10. The European Council passed a Regulation providing additional adjustments to fish quotas allocated to Spain and Portugal in 2012, due to overfishing in previous years, following the discovery of errors in the calculation of adjustments in relation to cod, Greenland halibut, redfish and red seabream.

11. The European Commission published information submitted by Italy regarding state aids provided to the fishery sector, in the form of monitoring of eel stocks and restocking programme in the region of Tuscany, aid for investments in fishing ports, landing sites and shelters, monitoring systems and the aquaculture sector in the region of Marche. The Commission also published information regarding state aids by Spain in the form of support for implementation of health measures for aquaculture species reared in fish farms in the Comunitat Valenciana.

12. The European Parliament questioned the Commission's proposals contained in the draft marketing regulation for fishery products, which removes the requirement for labeling of fishery products with the place of origin. The Parliament has expressed concern that this will undermine responsible consumption by discerning consumers, and will work against the interests of small scale coastal fishers

13. Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries made a speech on "Europe in the Global Maritime Economy" at the Euromaritime Fair in Paris. She set out the Commission's "Blue growth" agenda for sustainable economic growth in marine and maritime sectors. She described the EU actions in relation to the five main axes for growth: energy, seabed mining, tourism, biotechnology and aquaculture.

14. Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries visited Ukraine for discussions regarding Black Sea fisheries shared with the EU

15. NAFO has announced that it is recruiting for the position of Executive Secretary, for a 4 year term from 1 January 2014.

Fish hygiene

16. Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 24 consignments of bivalve molluscs and products thereof, two consignments of cephalopods, three consignments of crustaceans and 30 consignments of fish and fish products. These included 6 consignments of oysters with norovirus from France, 7 consignments of chilled clams with Escherichia coli from Turkey, 5 consignments of chilled tuna from Spain and 3 consignments of frozen tuna from Papua New Guinea.

17. DG SANCO of the European Commission published its report of an audit mission carried out by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of DG SANCO in Vietnam in September 2012, with a view to assessing the status of monitoring of fishery products exported to the EU. The mission concluded that the organisation of the Vietnamese competent authority and the control system implemented offer sufficient guarantees concerning public health conditions of fishery products to be imported to the EU. However deficiencies were noted in relation to the effectiveness of controls applied to fishing vessels, landing sites, and ice factories, where hygiene and food safety non-compliances were detected. Record keeping in aquaculture establishments was also found to be unsatisfactory. In addition exports occur from cold stores which were not listed by the CA for participation in the EU export chain for fishery products. Recommendations were made for correcting the deficiencies and a corresponding action plan was agreed.

18. The European Commission has accepted the guarantees offered by the Pakistani Competent Authority, Marine Fisheries Department, that the action plan agreed between the parties following the FVO mission of January 2007 has now been fully implemented. As a result Pakistan has re-opened its list of establishments approved for export to the EU, with two companies listed: A. G. Fisheries and Akhlaq Enterprises. Exports may resume from 12th March.

19. The European Commission passed a Regulation authorising the use of the bacterium Pediococcus acidilactici as a probiotic additive in fish feeds. The decision follows a report of the European Food Safety Authority which found that it has beneficial effect in development for all fish by increasing the proportion of well conformed fish, and reducing bone deformation.

20. The Commission published information for food processors and distributors regarding the current EU requirements for labeling of foods on the coming into force of Regulation (EU) N° 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, covering general labeling, allergen labeling, distance selling, dates of freezing, and nutrition declarations.

21. The Commission's "Better Training for Safer Food" updated its website and designated contact points for each EU Member States, as well as Candidate, Acceding, and Associated Countries. The contact points will help to coordinate the training of staff of the Competent Authorities in their countries.

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