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September 2013

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission reports on state of EU fish stocks; Mediterranean under threat.
2. Commission agrees additional tuna trade derogation for Mauritius
3. Eel recovery plan debated in Parliament; draft law by March 2014
4. Commission closes bluefin trap fishery; catches since June to be released
5. Stop fishing notices published for numerous fisheries
6. Scientific working group to study zonal attachment of Atlanto-Scandian herring
7. Coastal States meet in Reykjavik over disputed NE Atlantic fishery for mackerel
8. NAFO meeting rejects EU shrimp moratorium and shark finning proposals
9. Commission issues proposed regulation on invasive alien species in EU environment
10. Third international marine protected areas congress to be held 21 - 27 October 2013
11. Commission amends IUU catch certificates for imports from New Zealand
12. Denmark extends state aids for its fishery and aquaculture sector
13. European Council ratifies Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Gabon
14. Joint Committee of EU and Mauritania FPA agrees Protocol revisions
15. European Parliament consents to FPA between the EU and Mozambique
16. European Parliament declares fish to be a common good
17. Commissioner Damanaki visits Romania ; discusses Black Sea issues
18. Commission grants protected geographical indication for Italian trout

Fish hygiene

19. Thirty six Rapid alerts notified to the Commission for non-compliant fishery products
20. DG SANCO reports on mission to Latvia; all in order except no histamine monitoring
21. DG SANCO reports on mission to Kenya; several important deficiencies noted
22. DG SANCO reports on mission to Mozambique; residue monitoring compromised
23. European Council authorises phosphates additives in wet salted fish.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affaires and Fisheries, convened an open seminar on the 17th September to look into the state of European fish stocks and fishing fleets. The seminar was attended by the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), and by experts from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, who present the latest biological and economic information on European fish stocks. The interactive seminar included overviews of the biological status of the main stocks of interest for EU fisheries in the North-East Atlantic, Mediterranean and Black Seas, as a part of the preparation of decisions for fisheries regulations in 2014, including fishing quotas. The European Commission's annual "State of Fish Stocks in European waters" has indicated that there have been big improvements in EU fish stocks in the North-east Atlantic whilst Mediterranean stocks are under worsening threat.

2. The European Commission published a decision of the ESA-EU Customs Cooperation Committee under the Economic Partnership Agreement between the Eastern and Southern Africa States and the EU. The Decision provides a derogation to Mauritius for the export to the EU of 2,000 tonnes of non-originating preserved skipjack tuna for the period 01.04.2013 - 31.03.2014, thus allowing it to use material of non-EU or ACP origin without incurring tariffs. The derogation is additional to the automatic derogation granted to Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar for 8,000 tonnes of preserved tuna and 2,000 tonnes of tuna loins.

3. The European Parliament in Strasbourg debated and adopted the Commission's proposals for an eel recovery plan. Commissioner Damanaki announced that ICES would complete its annual eel stock assessment by November 2013 and will provide scientific advice. On the basis of these scientific and technical data, the Commission expects to present a draft regulation containing an Eel Management Plan to the Parliament to the Council. The MEPs urged the European Commission to table a draft law by March 2014, including sanctions against EU member states that are slow to provide the data needed to assess the stock.

4. The Commission passed a regulation closing the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery to Italian operators using traps. The technique is used to catch tunas for fattening in aquaculture operations. The measure was backdated to14 June 2013, and requires that "Bluefin tuna caught by those traps as from that date shall not be placed in cages for fattening or farming, transhipped, transferred, harvested or landed."

5. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Portuguese vessels fishing for saithe, alfonsinos, bigeye tuna and haddock, Latvian vessels fishing for redfish, German vessels fishing for sandeel, mackerel, redfish, and herring, Danish vessels fishing for sandeel, Dutch vessels fishing for saithe, mackerel and sandeel, French vessels fishing for redfish, Spanish vessels fishing for black scabbardfish, haddock and greater forkbeard, Belgian vessels fishing for plaice and all Member States (except Germany, Spain, France, Poland and United Kingdom) fishing for cod.

6. The EU, Faroe Islands, Norway and Iceland, all of which benefit from the exploitation of the Atlanto-Scandian herring stock, declared their intention to create a scientific working group on the zonal attachment of the stock. This could lead to a possible re-negotiation of the allocation of the coastal states' respective shares in that fishery. The European Commission welcomed the decision, stating that the allocation keys can only be negotiated via a transparent process, and decided on the basis of sound and thorough science, and in the knowledge of all the pertinent facts.

7. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Maria Damanaki attended a meeting of Coastal States concerned with the NE Atlantic fishery for mackerel held in Reykjavik, Iceland, on 7-8 September 2013. The meeting, between representatives of the European Union, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway sought to find a solution to the unresolved dispute on this mackerel quota-sharing arrangement between the Parties. The Commission declared that "unilateral actions are definitely not the way to go."

8. The North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation's (NAFO) held its annual meeting which took place from 23 to 27 September in Halifax, Canada. The meeting saw decisions taken on the total allowable catches (TACs) for a number of stocks based on scientific advice. Two new Working Groups were established on Ecosystem approach and risk-based management. NAFO decided not to impose a moratorium proposed by the EU, for arctic shrimp, but instead reduced the TAC by 50%. On the issue of protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs), the extension of existing area closures and a new area closure were agreed on. The EU also tabled a proposal, co-sponsored by the US, to update rules on shark finning, but the proposal was rejected by a majority of contracting parties.

9. The European Commission issued a press release on its proposals for a regulation on preventing and managing invasive alien species in the European environment. Whilst there are EU rules on the use of alien species in aquaculture, they leave other species, e.g. those used for sport fishing, unaddressed. The list of species subject to the new controls will be capped at 50. The proposal foresees an early warning system in which Member States will have to notify the Commission and other Member States if invasive alien species are spotted. There will special provisions for the Outermost regions of the EU. Invasive species are estimated to cause damage worth EUR 12 billion per year, and cost EUR1.4 billion to manage.

10. The Commission announced that IMPAC 3, the Third international marine protected areas congress will take place on 21 - 27 October 2013 in Marseille and Corsica. The Congress is organised by the French Marine Protected Areas Agency) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

11. The Commission amended the requirements for IUU catch certificates for fishery products imported from New Zealand. A new specific catch certificate from the Ministry of Primary Industries is approved by the Commission.

12. The Commission published details of the extension of a state aid scheme operated by the Government of Denmark in favour of its fishery and aquaculture sector, in the form of a loan guarantee scheme for credit up to DKK 2 million.

13. The Commission announced its satisfaction with the outcome of the Joint Committee meeting, held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on 17th and 18th September, within the framework of the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania for 2012-2014. The meeting agreed to the modification of shrimp fishing areas, a revision of the by-catch for cephalopods, and a fee reduction for the vessels of the European artisanal fishermen, as well as adaptation of the fishing zone for pelagic freezer trawlers continuation of octopus research. The European Parliament will vote on the Protocol on 8 October 2013.

14. The European Parliament gave its consent to the conclusion of the protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mozambique. It called on the Commission to forward the minutes and the conclusions of the meetings of the Joint Committee.

15. The European Council published its decision of 22 July 2013 to ratify the EU Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Gabon. The President of the Council was authorised to designate the person or persons empowered to sign the Protocol on behalf of the Union

16. The European Parliament passed a resolution (in April 2013) declaring fish to be a common good. It invited the Commission to promote legislative action, at EU and Member State level, on the importance of fish as a global common good, to implement the necessary measures to protect marine resources, to ensure access to and sustainable use of these resources through international coordination, and to conduct an information campaign for EU citizens.

17. The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, made a two-day trip to Romania alongside Dacian Ciolos, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, on 29th and 30th September. Among other matters she discussed the upcoming Black Sea Conference and the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) investments to Romania.

18. The Commission has published an implementing regulation approving the allocation of the name "Trote del Trentino" as a protected geographical indication for farmed trout from the Trentino region.

Fish hygiene

19. Rapid alerts notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 5 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 1 consignment of cephalopods, 3 consignments of crustaceans and 27 consignments of fish and fish products. The alerts included 6 consignments of tuna and 2 consignments of swordfish from Spain.

20. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission has published a report of a mission to Latvia in April 2013, to assess sanitary controls for fishery products. The mission found that official controls of production and placing on the market of fishery products are implemented in accordance with EU requirements, except for the monitoring of histamine in certain species fish. Here the mission found that there was no testing of fishery products for histamine except for some limited exports. Routine monitoring had been ceased due to budgetary constraints. The Competent Authority, the Food and Veterinary Service, was requested to submit an action plan outlining the necessary corrective measures.

21. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission has published its report of a mission to Kenya in June 2013, to assess equivalence of sanitary controls for fishery products exported to the EU. The inspectors concluded that in principle the current organisation of the Kenyan Competent Authority (Fisheries Department within the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries) and the control system, can offer sufficient guarantees concerning the sanitary conditions of fishery products for EU export. However a number of important deficiencies were identified. There was no formal system of official controls in place for aquaculture establishments. Some deficiencies were noted in cold stores (where products were not always kept at -18C or below) and in the HACCP programme implementation concerning the temperature of raw material on arrival. There was no monitoring for dioxins and the CA was not aware of the histamine test method used. The number of samples submitted for histamine testing was not in line with EU rules. The FVO has made a number of recommendations to be addressed by the Competent Authority in an action plan to be approved by the Commission.

22. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission has published its report of a mission to Mozambique in April 2013, to assess equivalence of sanitary controls for fishery products. The mission found that that improvements have been made since the last audit and in principle, the current organisation of the competent authority, the standards set and their documented operational procedures, provides for an acceptable system of official controls. However a number of important deficiencies were observed. Foreign flagged vessels were incorrectly approved and listed by the Competent Authority, and there were a number of instances of poor maintenance, hygiene and HACCP deficiencies identified in fishery business operations. The effectiveness of the residue monitoring plan for aquaculture products was found to be compromised by weak implementation, the specification of maximum residue limits for banned substances, weak sample integrity, and lack of controls on the authorisation, distribution and use of veterinary medicines. The Competent Authority, the National Institute of Fish Inspection, was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions to the Commission.

23. European Council agreed to the passage of a regulation amending Annex II to regulation 1333/2008 which authorises the use of the food additives diphosphates (E 450), triphosphates (E 451) and polyphosphates (E 452) for the preservation of wet salted fish.

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