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October 2013

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Ministers finalise agreement on common fisheries policy and market regulations
2. European Parliament confirms MSY, discards ban and management role of RACs
3. European Parliament cuts subsidies for new vessels and limits fleet subsidies
4. EU Ministers agree 2014 Baltic Sea fishing quotas; discuss mackerel dispute.
5. Commission proposes 2014 TACS for 72 EU stocks
6. EU and Norway finalise new mutual fisheries access agreement for Skagerrak
7. New stock assessment for NE Atlantic mackerel; new negotiations on catch shares
8. Bay of Biscay anchovy quotas modified
9. Stop fishing notices published for mackerel and other species
10. European Parliament approves new Protocol to the EU-Mauritania Agreement
11. EU and Canada agree to eliminate tariffs on most fishery products
12. Croatia joins EU, as low consumer and net exporter of fish
13. UK to subsidise Scottish fishery operators with GBP 600,000 grants
14. EU, Australia, France, New Zealand, and US propose MPAs in Antarctica
15. The Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) starts work
16. EU Fisheries Control Agency adopts 2014 work plan and budget (EUR 9. 2 million)
17. European Commission to host conference on fishing capacity in Athens, March 2014
18. Study published on compliance in the salmon fisheries of the Baltic Sea
19. Commission approves EUR35 million for fisheries data systems
20. Annual Economic Report indicates increasing profits for some EU fishers
21. 1700 fishery dependent ports account for 54% of fisheries employment
22. DG Environment launches open public consultation on marine litter
23. Commissioner Damanaki unveils a "Fishlove" Exhibition

Fish hygiene

24. Thirty Nine Rapid Alerts notified to the Commission for non-compliant fishery products
25. DG SANCO reports on fish hygiene in Lithuania; number of shortcomings
26. DG SANCO reports on a mission to Finland; no official controls on parasites
27. DG SANCO reports on Czech Republic fish hygiene controls; defective HACCP systems
28. Commission introduces new histamine limits in fishery products
29. More time for organic aquaculture to comply with EU rules
30. Commission allows non-ruminant animal protein in fish feeds; testing method also developed
31. EFSA conference discusses transparency in risk assessment
32. Russia and CIS change veterinary certificates for live fish and fertilised fish eggs
33. Technical Working Group on Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) launched
34. Outbreak of IHN and VHS in Italian trout farm
35. Norway announces elimination of Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) in two regions
36. Commission to announce regions free of fish diseases in Denmark and Ireland

Common Fisheries Policy

1. At its meeting in Luxembourg on 17th October 2013, the Council of Ministers adopted its position on two proposals for regulations on the common fisheries policy (CFP) reform following an early second reading agreement with the European Parliament. The measures include the basic regulation on the CFP, and the regulation on the common organisation of the markets (CMO) in fishery and aquaculture products (the market regulation). The decision on the detailed wording follows the agreement on the political principles made in June 2013. The basic regulation addresses the management of fish stocks according to the principle of maximum sustainable yield (MSY), a progressive ban on discarding in most fisheries, new regionalised fisheries management decision making, and greater protection for sensitive marine areas. The market regulation will require that buyers be provided with more detailed information on the origin and catching method of fish, and place greater emphasis on production and marketing plans by Producer Organisation.

2. On 23 October the European Parliament followed the Decision of Council by voting on more than 600 amendments to the draft of the basic regulation setting out the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The votes confirmed the management of fish stocks according to the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), the ban on discarding in most fisheries, new regionalised fisheries management decision making, and greater protection for sensitive marine areas.

3. The European Parliament voted on the 2014-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The EMFF will support the implementation of the recently adopted reform of the CFP. The Parliament has cut public aid to vessel construction and has set clear limits on the amounts of public funding Member States on fleets. There will be increased investment into small scale fisheries and aquaculture, and more money for fisheries data collection and fisheries control programmes. They also passed a measure to provide financial support for fishers whose activities are temporarily suspended due to fisheries management measures. The fund is now expected to be in place as of January 2014. Commissioner Damanaki said "I welcome the decision to reject spending EU taxpayers' money on building new fishing vessels".

4. Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers of EU Member States reached a political agreement in Luxembourg on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2014. Ministers also discussed the upcoming EU-Norway annual consultations establishing the management arrangements for the jointly managed fish stocks in the North Sea and Skagerrak. They were briefed on the ICCAT meeting to take place in South Africa in November, and also discussed the recurring dispute between the Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the EU about the management of the North East Atlantic mackerel.

5. The European Commission has proposed fishing opportunities for 2014 for the Atlantic and the North Sea, as well as in international waters. For EU exclusive stocks the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the TACs for 36 stocks, and reduce them for 36 stocks, in line with the scientific advice. TACs for 22 of these stocks is based on the MSY target. The TACs for the balance of the stocks will be set once negotiations on shared stocks are completed with other coastal states (Norway, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia). Increased TACs ate proposed for herring in the Irish Sea, Northern hake, Megrims in Iberian waters and plaice in the Celtic Sea. Cod stocks in the Irish Sea and the Kattegat continue to be in a dire state and further reductions in TACs are proposed.

6. The EU and Norway completed negotiations on a new agreement on reciprocal fisheries access in the Skagerrak. The Agreement supersedes the previous "Tripartite Agreement" between Denmark, Sweden and Norway from 1966, and allows those countries to maintain reciprocal access for their vessels in each other's waters within the defined area. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime and Fisheries welcomed the new agreement.

7. The European Union, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway met in London on the 23rd and 24th October to discuss management measures for 2014 for the mackerel stock in the North-East Atlantic. The meeting was also attended by observers from Greenland and the Russian Federation. The discussions focused on the latest scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), which has recommended a significant increase in fishing possibilities as compared to 2013. Further consultations will be held during the coming weeks. The Commission welcomed the talks, which may resolve the current dispute over the unilateral quotas for this species set by Iceland and Faroe Islands.

8. The European Commission passed a Regulation increasing the quotas for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay due to France (by 71 tonnes) and Spain (by 1,646 tonnes) in the season 2013/14, to compensate for quantities of quota voluntarily withheld last season.

9. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Portuguese vessels fishing for mackerel and Norway lobster, Dutch vessels fishing for haddock and herring, Polish vessels fishing for herring, UK vessels fishing for blue ling, French vessels fishing for herring and tusk and Spanish vessels fishing for black scabbardfish.

10. At a Plenary session of the European Parliament, MEPs voted to approve the Protocol to the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The European Commission expressed its satisfaction at the vote and Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki, thanked the Parliament. The overall EU financial contribution has slightly decreased compared to the previous Protocol, but sectoral support will still be offered with incentives for developing processing facilities locally, and a commitment to ensuring 60% of seamen on board EU vessels will be Mauritanian.

11. The EU and Canada finalised their negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. The Commission has published some details. Overall, both sides will fully eliminate tariffs on more than 99% of all tariff lines, including fishery products from the entry into force of the Agreement. The Commission estimates that the Agreement could lead to GDP gains for the EU of up to EUR11.6 billion per year.

12. The Commission published the monthly highlights from the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture products. The publication focuses on first-sales data for ten commodity groups from nine Member States. The publication also notes that on July 2013, Croatia officially became the EU's 28th Member State. Croatia is a net exporter of fish and seafood products, and more than 40% of its export value is absorbed by other EU, states particularly Italy. Despite having increased over the past years, the yearly per capita consumption of fish and seafood (ca. 9.0 kg) is significantly lower than other Mediterranean countries. The Commission also published the monthly highlights from the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture products for August and September 2013. There are special features on first sales of cold-water shrimp and sole in Belgium, and octopus and mackerel in Portugal, as well as a section on the price structure of farmed salmon in France.

13. The Commission has published information received from the UK, regarding public subsidies provided to the fishery sector under the Seafood Scotland Scheme. This will provide GBP 600,000 to Scottish fishery operators for collective actions in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, developments of new markets and promotional campaigns and investments in fishing ports, landing sites and shelters.

14. Commissioner Damanaki presented the Joint Statement on Marine Protected Areas in Antarctica, which she co-signed with representatives of Australia, France, New Zealand, and the United States. The statement calls on the Members of Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to establish a number of Marine Protected Areas in East Antarctica and the Ross Sea. The proposal will be considered at the CCAMLR meeting during 23 October -1 November, 2013, in Hobart, Australia.

15. The Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) held its first ever meeting in Melbourne, Australia, on 18 and 19 October, 2013. The SIOFA is a non-tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO). Whilst its founding Agreement was concluded in 2006, it only came into force in 2012. The present Members of the SIOFA are Australia, Cook Islands, the EU, France, Mauritius and Seychelles. The parties agreed on a process to introduce urgent conservation and management measures for deep water fisheries and the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems. The Parties also agreed on the establishment of a Scientific Committee and the development of rules of procedure. The inter-sessional work will include preparation of a scientific work plan and financial rules related to compliance, in particular IUU. The final decision on the location, size and structure of the Secretariat will be taken at the next meeting in Mauritius in March 2015. The European Commission has welcomed the outcome of the meeting.

16. The European Fisheries Control Agency has adopted its Multiannual Work Programme for 2014-2018 and the Annual Work Programme 2014. The main tasks to be undertaken are the implementation of Joint Deployment Plans (in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, North Atlantic and Western waters) and continued support to Member States and the European Commission for the development and completion of projects in data monitoring and networks, training, and cooperation with third countries and Regional Fisheries Management Organisations. The budget set for 2014 is EUR 9. 2 million.

17. The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will host an international conference on sustainable fishing capacity management, with the participation of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 13-14 March 2014. The conference will be organised under the auspices of the upcoming Greek Presidency. Commissioner Damanaki said the event would help build momentum on tackling the issue: "Overcapacity continues to jeopardise the sustainability of a global industry and the survival of fish stocks."

18. The European Commission published the results of an inspection programme on compliance in the salmon fisheries of the Baltic Sea. The report describes the salmon fishery by geographical area, gear and vessel type, and fishing periods, and analyses control risks and challenges. The study will be used by Member States to organise their control programmes at national level and as the basis for Joint Deployment Plans (given that salmon was included into the Baltic Sea Special control plan).

19. The European Commission approved the financial costs of the 2013 fisheries data, collection and analysis programmes for Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, France, Cyprus, Netherlands, Poland and Portugal. The EU will provide EUR17.5 million to cover a proposed eligible expenditure of EUR35 million. France is largest beneficiary, receiving a subsidy of EUR6.6 million.

20. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission published the latest Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet, setting out some of the key financial and economic features of the EU fishing operators during 2011. Less fish was landed but higher market prices helped the EU fishing fleet remain profitable in 2011. The economic performance of the EU fleet has improved gradually over recent years, from a net profit margin of 1% in 2008 to 6% in 2011. However six national fleets and around 45% of the fleet segments made net losses.

21. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission co-authored the publication of a map showing 1700 fishing ports in the EU, and the relevance of fishing activities in each in terms of employment dependency. The study showed that in 388 communities, fishing activities generate more than 1% of the total employment in the surrounding areas, against a mere 0.1% when considering national or regional statistics. Around 54% of total fisheries employment is located in these highly dependent communities.

22. DG Environment of the European Commission launched an open public consultation calling for opinions on the subject of marine litter. The European Commission is exploring options to set an EU-wide quantitative reduction headline target for marine litter, as called for in the recently-agreed 7th Environment Action Programme. The marine litter consultation is looking for additional input from citizens and stakeholders. Views may be submitted on line to the Commission until 18 December 2013.

23. Commissioner Damanaki unveiled a "Fishlove" Exhibition at the Berlaymont's exhibition hall on 21 October, 2013. The photographic exhibition, in which artist Denis Rouvre depicts naked people from the world of entertainment posing with fish, represents the Fishlove movement, which calls for legislators and policy makers to "choose the path towards a sustainable future for our seas and oceans."

Fish hygiene

24. Rapid Alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 15 consignment of bivalve molluscs, two consignment of cephalopods, three consignments of crustaceans and 19 consignments of fish and fish products. The alerts included six consignments of live and chilled mussels, four consignments of tuna and three consignments of swordfish from Spain, two consignments of clams and two consignments of swordfish from Vietnam, two consignments of clams from Turkey, and unauthorised irradiation of canned crayfish in brine with raw material from China, packaged in Denmark, via Austria.

25. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Lithuania to evaluate the sanitary conditions for the production and marketing of fishery products, which took place in June 2013. The mission found that the Competent Authority (the State Food and Veterinary Service) has in place an organised and documented official control system that is in accordance with EU Regulations. Although the official controls of production and placing on the market of fishery products are generally implemented in accordance with EU requirements a number of shortcomings were identified, including the granting of conditions approval to a non-compliant establishment, and lack of regular and effective controls and organoleptic evaluation on landing. In one establishment visited fishery products were received from a non-approved reefer vessel. Evaluation of HACCP systems in establishments was also found to be defective. The methodology used for sampling for histamine was not in line with EU regulations, similarly the testing methods used for testing for histamine and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in fishery products. The Competent Authority was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions.

26. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Finland to evaluate the sanitary conditions for the production and marketing of fishery products. The mission, which took place in April 2013, found that the control system was adequately implemented, although a number of shortcomings were identified which means that EU requirements are not complied with in full. There were no official controls carried out on parasites in establishments, and random testing for histamine was found to be insufficient. Listeria testing was also not routinely undertaken in some ready to eat fishery products. There was no official control of dioxins in fish other than those from the Baltic Sea. Heavy metal testing was also not comprehensive, with some important sources not sampled. Organoleptic checks were not documented and several HACCP plans in establishments were found to be inadequate; in one establishment visited a formal HACCP plan was not available. The Competent Authority, the Finnish Food Safety Authority, was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions.

27. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to the Czech Republic to evaluate the sanitary conditions for the production and marketing of fishery products. The mission, which took place in June 2013, found that although the control system was adequately implemented, its effectiveness was undermined by a number of shortcomings observed during the audit. These concerned the absence of formal guidance for most inspectors in relation to inspections in the fishery products sector, and incorrect methodologies for HACCP and own-checks systems which were not identified by inspectors (for example in relation to parasites in freshwater fish, histamine and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). In one establishment visited hydrogen peroxide was used for bleaching fish-fillets. The Competent Authority, the Czech State Veterinary Agency, was requested by the Commission to address the nine areas of deficiencies identified.

28. The Commission has amended Commission Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 of 15 November 2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs as regards histamine limits on fishery products. The change establishes a separate food safety criterion for fish sauce produced by fermentation of fishery products in order to align the criterion with the new Codex Alimentarius Standard 302 - 2011. The new limit is set at 400mg/kg established by HPLC method. One sample per batch is sufficient. The regulation also amends the approach to interpretation of the results of histamine tests from sampling of other (non-sauce) fishery products.

29. The Commission has allowed a further period of adaptation for aquaculture farmers regarding the use of the word "organic" at national level, before the full application of the EU 2009 rules on the use of this term. The transition period for existing farmers to adapt their practices has been extended from three years for a further period of 18 months. However during this period, farmers which produce under nationally approved rules will not be permitted to use the EU logo for organic products.

30. The Commission has passed a regulation amending the prohibition on the use of processed animal proteins (PAPs) in animal feeds, to allow proteins derived from non-ruminant animals to be included in feed for farmed fish and other aquaculture animals, The measure is intended to reduce reliance on fishmeal for animal protein in fishfeeds. The Joint Research Centre also prepared a reference material to help analyse the presence of processed animal proteins (PAPs) derived from non-ruminant farmed animals. The material will help Member States to enforce the new Commission Regulation.

31. EFSA held a one day conference in Parma, Italy to consider the issue of transparency in food safety risk assessment. The meeting was attended by EFSA chiefs, scientists, industry representatives, non-governmental organisations, international lawyers, journalist commentators and other stakeholders, and discussed the conflicting demands of public accountability, intellectual property and rights of the individual. In the next year, EFSA plans to finalise a new policy on openness and transparency.

32. The Technical Working Group on Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) held a meeting on the 2nd of October 2013 and reported to the Commission and Member States. The aim of the WG is to review EU legislations as regards ISA and bring it in line with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Diagnostic Code and Aquatic Manual. Working papers were published.

33. The European Commission was informed by Russia regarding a change in the certification of products of animal origin for export to Russia and the CIS. New EU-Customs Union veterinary certificates were introduced for live fish and fertilised fish eggs from 23 August, 2013. The next EU-Customs Union meeting will continue discussions on veterinary certification and is expected to take place in November 2013.

34. Italy has temporarily suspended the disease free status for IHN and VHS due to an infection in a trout farm in the catchment area of the Rio Fossalta in the Venta Region. The farm has been disinfected and a surveillance programme initiated.

35. Information was received by the Commission from Norway regarding freedom from Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) in the two Compartments of Nordland County and Hordaland County.

36. The Commission presented a draft Commission Implementing Decision regarding the announcement of the disease-free status for the whole continental territory of Denmark with respect to viral haemorrhagic septicaemia, the whole territory of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with respect to Koi herpes virus disease.

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