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May 2013

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers and Parliament agree CFP reform package
2. DG MARE's Adviser Deben says IUU fishing by China and Korea is on the Commission's agenda
3. Commission to launch trade sanctions against Faroe Islands over herring quotas
4. DG MARE announces improvements in fish stocks; good sign for 2014 quotas
5. Indian Ocean Tuna conservation measures strengthened
6. Strengthened management measures for Adriatic and Black Sea fisheries
7. European Fisheries Control Agency launches 2013 Joint Deployment Plan for Blue Fin Tuna
8. European Fisheries Control Agency sets out ideas for "culture of compliance"
9. DG MARE publishes report on fisheries data collection
10. Arctic Council grants EU permanent observer status
11. Commission publishes new guidelines for aquaculture development in the EU
12. Italy subsidises young entrepreneurs in the fisheries and aquaculture sector
13. IFREMER launches project "EUROFLEET2" to coordinate access to European research vessels
14. Commission launches proposals for improved spatial planning and coastal management
15. Commission adopts Action Plan to revitalise the Atlantic marine and maritime economy
16. Commissioner Damanaki meets EU Court of Auditors; discusses performance audit of DG MARE
17. EU research project STAGES surveys Marine Strategy Framework Directive interventions
18. Dutch Government organises Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth
19. Commission celebrates European maritime day with tourism as focus

Fish hygiene

20. Forty four Rapid Alerts notified to the Commission for non-compliant fishery products
21. DG SANCO reports on mission to South Korea; previous recommendations not fully addressed,
22. DG SANCO reports on mission to Mexico; only voluntary controls on primary production
23. Commission publishes guidance on new labelling requirements for food, including fishery products
24. Commission adopts new draft official control regulation
25. Commission publishes updated guidance documents on food hygiene
26. Commission increases maximum limit for yessotoxins in live bivalve molluscs
27. OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission discusses Aquatic Code and Manual
28. Commission ceases monitoring of scallops imported from Japan
29. Commission amends food additive rules

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers approved a wider negotiating mandate to the Irish Presidency to discuss the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in the trilogues with the European Parliament and the Commission. The decision paved the way to the parties reaching agreement on substantive features of the reformed policy, which is expected to lead to the passage of a new basic fisheries regulation. Starting with some stocks in 2015, Member States will have to set fishing quotas in line with levels which deliver Maximum Sustainable Yield, with a phased introduction for remaining stocks up 2020. Fishing vessels will have to land at least 95% of all catches in accordance with a schedule of specific dates for different fisheries, starting gradually from 2015, thus reducing discards. New measures will help to prevent "flag hopping". Fisheries access agreements will have to be based on surplus fish stocks in third countries' waters. A new fisheries compliance committee will be established. EU subsidies may be suspended or even withheld for Member States which do not reduce fishing capacity in line with agreed targets. The reforms extend to 2022 the right for Member States to restrict fishing in a zone within 12 nautical miles of the coastline. The proposals must now be drafted in detail, and the Council has to formally adopt the new CFP reform text. Then the European Parliament, following a recommendation from the Committee on Fisheries, must approve the deal in a second reading before it can be published in the Official Journal of the EU. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs welcomed the agreement. She said "We are going to stop having all the decision-making taking place in Brussels. Micro-management will not be the way we operate anymore."

2. In an interview published by the EU Agritrade with DG MARE's Principal Adviser for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr.Cesar Alfonso Deben, spoke about the state of play with the implementation of the EU's legislation, designed to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated or unreported fishing (IUU). He indicated that most of the problems with the disruption to trade caused by the EU's catch certification system have now been resolved. Some 30 third countries identified on the basis of a risk analysis basis (in particular those with a previous history of IUU fishing, flags of convenience countries, tax havens, etc) have been subjected to an audit mission to review their anti-IUU fishing activity, propose corrective measures where necessary, and offer targeted assistance. Of the eight countries named last November as being potential non-cooperating third countries, a number have since come into line. Fiji has amended its framework legislation with respect to fisheries, and has adopted a new fisheries code that provides harsher penalties, better internal controls and improved traceability. Guinea is working to improve monitoring, but governance issues remain to be addressed. Vanuatu remains a problem, with a fleet of 160 industrial fishing vessels, working in four regional fisheries organisations and mostly operated by foreign fishery business interests. Mr.Deben also suggested that other countries could be added to the list, indicating that the list of 'uncooperative' nations is not closed, and that the Commission is pursuing a dialogue with 24 countries, including China and Korea, and the well-known problem of the IUU activities conducted by nationals or fishing vessels from these countries is on the agenda.

3. The UK Delegation to the EU requested the Commission to impose trade sanctions against Iceland and the Faroe Islands regarding their unilateral declaration of quotas on the NE Atlantic mackerel stocks. The Commission proposed further negotiations. In addition, following the Faroe Islands' step of setting of a unilateral quota for the Atlanto-Scandian herring (in March of 2013), the European Commission notified the fisheries authorities of the Faroe Islands of its intention to apply trade sanctions. These may include restrictions on the imports of herring by the EU and on the access of Faroese fishing vessels to EU ports. The EU claims that the 145% increase in the quota taken by the Faroe Islands will threaten the sustainability of the stock.

4. The Commission's DG MARE adopted a consultation document on the state of European fish stocks and sets out intentions for fishing opportunities for 2014. The paper states that 39% (i.e.25) of assessed fish stocks in EU waters of the Northeast Atlantic are now overfished, down from 47% last year and 95% in 2005. The Commission believes that fisheries policy is starting to show real benefits for sustainability of the fishing industry. Data on profits also indicates an increase of 40% on the previous year.

5. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the Regional Fisheries Management Organisation responsible for managing tuna and tuna like species in the Indian Ocean, concluded its annual plenary session on Friday 10 May 2013 in Grande Baie, Mauritius, after five days of discussions. A number of new conservation and management measures were adopted, including the setting of interim target and limit reference points for tuna stocks and outline of a decision framework which should result in the setting of harvest control rules. Other measures adopted were a resolution on the protection of Oceanic Whitetip sharks, a discard ban for tropical tunas caught by purse seine vessels, and a revision of the rules for management of fisheries using fish aggregating devices (FADs).

6. The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) met for its Annual session in Split, Croatia. The EU tabled proposals for a management plan for Adriatic fisheries, for measures to deal with overfishing and fishing for juveniles and proposals for the management of fisheries in the Black Sea.

7. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) launched the 2013 Joint Deployment Plan (JDP) for the Blue Fin Tuna fishery in the Mediterranean Sea and the Eastern Atlantic waters. Under this JDP, EFCA, the European Commission and EU Member States pool their monitoring and control means for the inspection and surveillance of the blue fin tuna fishery, both at sea and on shore. In 2013, Member States and the EFCA are mobilising six high seas patrol vessels, twenty two coastal patrol vessels and eleven aerial patrols to ensure that the management measures of the Bluefin Tuna recovery plan are respected. In total, 179 days of sea activity, 159 days of on shore activity and 184 flight hours are scheduled.

8. The European Fisheries Control Agency made a presentation to the European Parliament of the tools expected to help develop a culture of compliance in a reformed Common Fisheries Policy. These tools include Regional Joint Deployment Plans (JDPs), discard ban control strategies, cost-effectiveness and compliance evaluation focus groups, a core curriculum for the training of the fisheries inspectorates, and strengthened EFCA ICT Systems.

9. DG MARE published the report of the project "Assistance for the monitoring of the implementation of national programmes for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector", implemented by consultants during 2012. The project supported the Member States to establish monitoring of National Programmes for the collection of fisheries data under the EU's Data Collection Framework Regulation. In particular it supported the monitoring of data collected by external contractors.

10. The Arctic Council has decided to grant the EU permanent observership status. It means that the EU will be able to participate in meetings of the Arctic Council, but will not be able to vote. Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki both welcomed the statement.

11. Mrs.Maria Damanaki, Commission for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech setting out the Commission's new guidelines for aquaculture development in the EU, aimed at boosting stagnant production. Each Member State will be required to develop a national plan for aquaculture, containing measures to streamline licensing procedures, inclusion of aquaculture zones in integrated spatial planning and coastal zones management plans, and diversification of aquaculture into new species and products. New standards (for example for organic aquaculture) and labelling requirements will also be set up.

12. Italy announced a programme of training and subsidies for young entrepreneurs in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, worth EUR250,000 per year.

13. The project "EUROFLEET2" was launched in Brest by project coordinator IFREMER, the French fisheries research institute. The project is funded under the 7th EU Research and Development Framework Programme, and brings together 22 research vessels, and 31 marine institutes, universities, foundations and SMEs from 20 European and associated countries, with the aim of constructing a pan-European distributed research fleet infrastructure, with coordinated access to European research vessels and equipment.

14. The European Commission launched a proposal to improve the planning of maritime activities at sea and the management of coastal areas, as part of its initiative for Blue Growth through sustainable management of marine and coastal areas. The proposal - in the form of a draft directive - aims to establish a common European framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management in EU Member States, with a view to ensuring that the growth of maritime and coastal activities and the use of resources at sea and on coasts remain sustainable. The Directive will compel member States to introduce a one stop shop principle proposed in the Directive, to reduce administrative complexity in the award of permits for activities such as aquaculture and wind farms

15. The European Commission adopted an Action Plan to revitalise the marine and maritime economy in the Atlantic Ocean Area. The Action Plan follows from the Atlantic Strategy the Commission adopted in 2011 and sets out a series of measures for coordinated development of fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and shipping, as well as emerging areas such as offshore renewables and marine biotech sectors. Some of the measures proposed are: Improving educational and training measures, support for research, reinforcing marine safety and security, developing new instruments and platforms for ocean observation, developing biobanks and identifying markets for innovative marine bioproducts, and establishing new renewable energy installations for offshore wind, wave, tidal and biomass energies. Member States will decide whether to fund the Action Plan through existing structural funds. The Commission also signed a joint declaration on an Atlantic research partnership with the USA and Canada on 24 May in Galway, Ireland.

16. Commissioner Maria Damanaki had a working lunch meeting with the EU Court of Auditors to discuss the "preservation and management of natural resources" and to inform the Court regarding the on-going reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. The Court has several on-going audits in the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs field, including a special report on aquaculture as well as a performance audit on DG MARE's policies and activities.

17. The EU funded FP7 STAGES project (Science and Technology Advancing Governance on Good Environmental Status) has undertaken a survey and analysis of projects at EU and Member State level linked to the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Under the MSFD, EU Member States are expected to assess the overall status of their respective marine environments and to put in place the necessary measures to achieve Good Environmental Status (GES) by 2020. So far some 1,500 projects (dating from 2005 until the present day) from 13 funding programmes have been identified as potentially contributing towards the MSFD objectives. The knowledge outputs collected will be made available in a user-friendly format through the EurOcean Knowledge Gate and will be used to develop state-of-the-art reports on each of the five Thematic Groups relating to the 11 GES descriptors.

18. The Dutch Government presented information to the EU Council on the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth, which is to be held from 9-13 September 2013 in the Hague, Netherlands. The Summit will review action priorities to sustainably generate increased productivity for food security and for growth in the context of healthy oceans in a changing climate.

19. The European Commission celebrated European maritime day on 20 May. Representatives of EU institutions, Member States and experts from all maritime sectors met in Malta to discuss the EU's Blue Growth agenda, with a particular focus on tourism, which provides employment for 2.35 million people and produces over €100bn of value added to the EU economy every year.

Fish hygiene

20. Rapid Alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for eight consignments of bivalve molluscs, six consignments of cephalopods, four consignments of crustaceans and 26 consignments of fish and fish products. The alerts included 4 consignments of clams from Italy, 2 consignments of salmon from Sweden, 3 consignments of swordfish from Chile and 3 consignments of swordfish from Spain.

21. The Food and Veterinary Office, an agency of DG SANCO of the European Commission has published its Final Report of an audit carried out in South Korea in November 2012 concerning the sanitary controls for fishery products and bivalve molluscs intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that whilst there were sufficient guaranties to ensure protection of the public health of EU consumers, the controls could not be considered equivalent to those set out in EU legislation. Deficiencies were identified in regulations concerning HACCP in freezer vessels and regulatory limits for biotoxins. There was no official control carried out when fishery products were landed, sampling for histamine testing was not in line with EU requirements, bivalve mollusc harvest areas were not classified in accordance with EU specifications and the frequency of monitoring was insufficient. Furthermore there were no procedures in place for the closure of bivalve harvest areas exhibiting dangerous levels of toxins. The mission concluded that most of the recommendations of the previous report had not been completely addressed, and recommended that immediate corrective actions be taken by the Competent Authority, the Animal, Plant and Fishery Quarantine and Inspection Agency.

22. The Food and Veterinary Office, an agency of DG SANCO of the European Commission has published its Final Report of an audit carried out in Mexico in November 2012 concerning the sanitary controls for fishery products exported to the European Union, and following up on a previous mission in 2007. The Mission found that official controls over primary production (vessels and aquaculture farms) were only carried out on a voluntary basis, and approval procedures allowed exports from establishments which were not compliant. One of the establishments visited presented deficiencies concerning structures and equipment (e.g. absence of temperature recording devices), unhygienic practices and HACCP that represented a risk for the food safety of the products. There were no official controls for dioxins or PCBs, and histamine testing (and other test methods) did not use the EU reference methods. Some of the exported products certified came from non-EU eligible sources, including other third countries. The mission concluded that the competent authority cannot fully ensure that all fishery products exported to the European Union meet the requirements, and recommended corrective actions to be taken.

23. The Commission has published questions and answers regarding Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 on the provision of food information to consumers, which sets out detailed advice on the application of the new labelling requirements applicable from 13 December 2014 (except for nutritional labelling requirements which will apply from 2016). Important measures include a significant change in allergen labelling (including fishery products), specification of date of freezing of frozen unprocessed fishery products, and indications of content of added water including glazing.

24. The European Commission adopted a package of draft measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain. The new measures will consolidate the current body of about 70 different pieces of EU legislation into 5 main regulations. The approach also aims to reduce red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) without compromising on their duty to produce safe food. The proposed measures include a new regulation "on official controls and other activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant reproductive material, plant protection products".

25. The Commission re-published its guidance documents on food hygiene, to coincide with the update of the EU's official controls regulation. The documents are intended to assist Member States and food business operators to better understand the regulatory requirements and cover the development of EU Guides to Good Practice, the implementation of the provisions of the hygiene regulations, the implementation of procedures based on the HACCP principle and key questions related to import requirements.

26. Following an exchange of views on a draft regulation the Commission and Member states have decided to increase the current maximum limit for yessotoxins in live bivalve molluscs from 1 mg/Kg to 3.75 mg/Kg. The decision follows scientific advice from the EFSA.

27. The OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission met at the OIE Headquarters in Paris from 11 to 15 March 2013 and presented its revised version of the Aquatic Code and Manual drafted by the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission. The code sets out standards for animal disease control systems to be applied in the cases of specific diseases of aquatic animals. The European Commission published further comments on the Aquatic Code and Manual in advance of the 81st OIE General Session of the OIE. The EU stressed its continued commitment to participate in the work of the OIE and to offer all technical support needed by the Aquatic Animals Commission and its ad hoc groups.

28. The European Commission passed a regulation amending the safeguard measures put in place following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station on 11 March 2011, to protect consumers of high levels of radionuclide in certain food products originating in Japan. Following detailed analysis, scallops (and other non-fishery products) are removed from the list of products for which sampling and analysis are required before export to the EU.

29. The European Commission amended the regulations concerning additives permitted for use in various food stuffs, correcting a number of errors (in relation to use of sodium bisulfite) and removing some aluminium-containing food additives from the permitted list,

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