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November 2013

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Belize, Cambodia and Guinea named as non-cooperating on IUU; warning for Ghana and Korea
2. Commission fines four EU shrimp traders EUR28.7 million for price fixing
3. UN General Assembly to consider resolution on fisheries controls
4. ICCAT keeps Bluefin quotas low; no new measures to protect sharks
5. ICCAT elects new chairman Stefaan Depypere
6. Faroe Islands launches WTO case against EU under UNCLOS and the WTO
7. Commission proposes Black Sea fish TACS and quotas for 2014
8. CCAMLR fails to adopt new Antarctic marine protected areas
9. North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission sets 2014 quotas
10. Baltic Sea fish TACs and quotas set for 2014
11. New management arrangements for West of Scotland herring stocks
12. Fishing opportunities modified for several EU fleet segments
13. Greece loses EUR8.8 million by not meeting fisheries data obligations
14. DG MARE launches consultation on changes to de minimis state aid
15. Commission alters landing notifications for hake and Norway lobster
16. Commission extends days at sea for UK and French fishing vessels
17. New Protocol for EU - Mauritania fisheries partnership (EUR 70 million)
18. EU and Seychelles initial Fisheries Agreement regarding access to Mayotte
19. Commission publishes evaluation of the FPA with Cape Verde
20. Parliament approves FPA Protocol with Kiribati
21. Commission reduces Polish salmon quota due to overfishing
22. Commission approves fisheries MCS finance for Croatia
23. Commissioner Damanaki visits Albania; discusses fishery and maritime issues
24. Eurostat issues 2013 Pocketbook on agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics
25. DG MARE launches public consultation on marine biotechnology
26. EU Fisheries Network issues guidelines for finance for fisheries communities
27. Commission announces 2014 European Maritime Day Conference in Bremen

Fish hygiene

28. During November 2013, the EC notified 48 rapid alerts for fishery products.
29. Commission extends ban on bivalves from Peru, due to a hepatitis outbreak, to end of 2014
30. DG SANCO publishes a report on a mission to Chile; deficiencies mollusc controls
31. Commission considers excessive cadmium in Ecuadorean tuna meal
32. Commission advises on ELISA test for chloramphenicol
33. Commission proposes changes to analysis of dioxin and PCBs
34. EFSA discusses guidance on aquatic ecotoxicology of pesticides

Common Fisheries Policy

1. At a conference "Ending Illegal Fishing Event" organised from Environmental Justice Foundation in Brussels on 5 November 2013, Mrs.Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Illegal Fishing gave a major policy speech on the EU's measures against IUU fishing. She outlined progress in compliance in eight countries named by the Commission as flagging vessels engaged in IUU fishing. She reported that Fiji, Togo, Sri Lanka, Panama and Vanuatu have all engaged in a dialogue with the Commission and have made credible progress in following an agreed action plan to improve controls over their vessels. For these countries the Commission has given more time, and will evaluate their progress again in March 2014. Belize, Cambodia and Guinea have not addressed the Commission's concerns linked to legislation, effective monitoring and surveillance systems, nor have they introduced satisfactory sanctioning regimes. The Commission subsequently formally identified them as non- cooperating third countries, which can lead to an import ban on their fisheries products. The Commission also published a decision formally warning Ghana, Korea and Curação that they are also being considered as non-cooperating third countries

2. The European Commission fined four European North Sea shrimps traders a total of EUR28.7 million for operating a cartel in breach of EU antitrust rules. The companies are Heiploeg, Klaas Puul, Kok Seafood (all of the Netherlands) and Stührk (of Germany) who between June 2000 and January 2009 fixed prices and share sales volumes of North Sea shrimps in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Klaas Puul received full immunity from fines under the Commission's 2006 Leniency Notice, as it was the first to provide information about the cartel.

3. Consultations were launched in New York on the drafting of a new resolution of the United Nations General Assembly concerning fish catch documentation schemes, the need for States to consider rules on chartering and the recognition of participatory surveillance as a tool to enhance the sustainability of resources.

4. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) held a meeting in Cape Town on 18-25th November 2013, attended by contracting parties. The European Commission, represented by Commissioner Damanaki, emphasised the need to keep compliance and enforcement high on the agenda and to ensure that this year's management decisions are fully in line with scientific advice. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the ICCAT meeting in Cape Town announced that the Atlantic Bluefin tuna stock is officially recovering and likely to continue towards recovery. However she indicated that new scientific advice for Atlantic albacore and Atlantic swordfish means there is a need to adjust management decisions. Members decided to leave the 2014 quotas for Bluefin tuna at 1,750 metric tons in the western Atlantic and 13,400 tons in the eastern Atlantic. This follows scientific advice not to increase quotas so as to allow for the recovery of over-fished tuna populations. A plan to electronically record and track tuna catches was rejected, but the plan requiring larger tuna fishing vessels to register with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to combat illegal fishing, was passed. Although the EU continued to press for the protection of vulnerable shark species and for a ban on the practice of shark-finning, in line with the EU rules adopted in 2013, Member States did not adopt proposals to establish catch limits for short-fin mako and blue sharks, and to ban landing of Porbeagle shark, where there is emerging scientific evidence of overfishing.

5. ICCAT Member States elected Stefaan Depypere as Chairman for a two year period until the end of 2015. M. Depypere was Head of the EU Delegation to ICCAT and a Director in the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission. Mrs.Damanaki expressed her pleasure the appointment.

6. Commissioner Damanaki met with members of the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee to share views on the management of herring and mackerel stocks in the North-East Atlantic, including the ban on imports into the EU herring or mackerel from the Faroe Islands. In response the Faroe Islands has initiated dispute settlement procedures under both UNCLOS and the WTO. For mackerel, Commissioner Damanaki indicated that due to the increased fishing opportunities arising from the latest ICES scientific advice, (which recommends a TAC level of 889,000 t for 2014 compared to 542,000 t in 2013) there is a now a window of opportunity for Iceland and the Faroe Islands to reduce their claims in terms of share of the stock. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Commissioner Damanaki met with Icelandic Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Mr Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson and reached an agreement on catch shares for mackerel. Discussions are ongoing with Faroe Islands and Norway.

7. The European Commission proposed the fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Black Sea for 2014. The Commission proposes to cut the EU quota for turbot by 15%, to 74 tonnes and to keep the EU quota for sprat unchanged at 11,475 tonnes. The EU quota for turbot is divided evenly between Bulgaria and Romania whilst for sprat national quotas are set respectively at 70% and 30 % of the total EU quota.

8. The European Commission expressed its disappointment that the parties to Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) were not able to agree on the establishment of marine protected areas in the Antarctic Ocean (this being the third time that the proposals have been considered). The 23rd Annual Meeting of CCAMLR, held in Hobart, Australia, from 23rd October to 1st November, did however agree to set the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for species under its mandate in line with scientific advice, and to undertake a country-by-country compliance review. CCAMLR will also review its Catch Documentation Scheme (CDS) for toothfish.

9. The 32nd Annual Meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission was held in London. The meeting was able to set management measures for a number of fish stocks, including redfish in the Irminger Sea and in the Norwegian Sea; Rockall haddock; deep-sea species; blue ling South of Iceland; roundnose grenadier; various shark species; and orange roughy. Management measures by NEAFC for the pelagic fish stocks (blue whiting, herring and mackerel) will be set by a postal procedure, once coastal state agreements for 2014 are in place.

10. The European Council fixed the fishing opportunities for fish stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2014, following scientific advice from the STECF. Sets TACs and quotas for Herring, Cod, Plaice, Atlantic salmon and Sprat.

11. The European Parliament published its legislative resolution on the proposal to modify the arrangements for the management of the herring stocks to the West of Scotland. The measure considers these stocks to be a management unit, and establishes a multi-annual plan for their management, in line with the revised CFP, obliging the Commission to seek the advice of STECF and of the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council in setting fishing opportunities.

12. The EU has passed a regulation adjusting a number of different fishing opportunities for EU fishing vessels to account for changes in stock definitions, accession of Croatia, ICCAT and IOTC regulations and new scientific evidence. Affects hake, sharks, mackerel, blue whiting, Atlanto-Scandian herring and North Sea haddock, and tusk amongst other species.

13. The European Commission announced that Greece, after years of delay due to internal disagreements over mandates, has made a Joint Ministerial Decision to implement a National Programme on fisheries data collection and submit it to the EU. The Commission has indicated that the failure to meet its fisheries data obligations has cost the Government of Greece EUR8.8 million in lost funding, and risked fines from the Court of Justice. The Commission welcomed the decision and Greece will now receive a subsidy of EUR1.8 million for fisheries data collection in 2013.

14. DG MARE of the European Commission has launched a Consultation on the first draft of the new de minimis Regulation replacing Regulation (EC) No 875/2007 concerning state aids in the fisheries sector. The proposal recommends changes to the level at which state aid is considered de minimis (and therefore not required to be notified to the Commission). It proposes to maintain the ceiling of EUR30,000 per case but opens a discussion into whether the cumulative amount for each Member State should be lowered below the current 2,5% of the annual fishery and aquaculture output.

15. The European Commission passed a regulation reducing the period of notice required for vessels intending to land southern hake and Norway lobster caught in the Cantabrian Sea and Western Iberian Peninsula. For certain vessels the minimum notification period is reduced from four hours to two hours and a half (due to the proximity of some of the fishing grounds to the landing port).

16. The Commission extended the number of days at sea permitted for UK and French fishing vessels operating in ICES VII, over 10 metres and deploying beam trawls or gill nets, due to withdrawals from the relevant fleet segments.

17. The European Council passed a decision approving a new Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania. The protocol was agreed in 2012, at a total cost for the EU budget, on an annual basis, of EUR 70 million, and offers fishing opportunities for demersal, including shrimps, tuna and pelagic fisheries. Furthermore, there will be a very substantial increase of shipowners' fees, in line with the principles of the CFP Reform.

18. The European Union (EU) and the Government of Seychelles initialled a Fishery Access Agreement which will allow Seychelles flagged vessels to continue fishing operations in EU waters around the island of Mayotte (in the Mozambique Channel). These waters will become EU waters when Mayotte becomes an outermost region of the EU on 1 January 2014. The Agreement will allow eight tuna purse seine vessels from Seychelles to operate in the waters of Mayotte for the next six years, with the payment of licence and catch fees coming directly from the ship-owners. For the EU this is the first inter-governmental agreement which has provided the right to fish to vessels of a third country in EU waters on the payment of fees.

19. The Commission has published the results of the evaluation of the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Cape Verde, during the period 2011 to 2013. The Agreement generated a mean added value of EUR2.4 million/year with 71% of the value attributed to the EU, 17% to Cape Verde and 13% to other ACP countries in the region, whose products are landed or transhipped in Cape Verde. The cost benefit ratio was estimated at 4.2 (higher than the average for the EU's Fisheries Partnership Agreements in the region. The study expresses concern that blue sharks comprise 70% of the catches of the EU longliners operating under the agreement. Overall it concludes that a renewal of the Protocol would be in the interest of both parties.

20. The European Parliament in plenary session in Strasbourg, gave its consent to the new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Kiribati. It considered that the Protocol will help develop Kiribati's local economy and promote the sustainable long term development of its fisheries sector, as well as ensuring that the local fisheries resources are exploited at a responsible and sustainable level, in particular by calculating fishing opportunities for the EU fleet on the basis of scientific advice.

21. The Commission issued a Regulation providing for a reduction of the annual salmon quota allocated to Poland for 2013, to recover salmon quota overfished by Polish fishermen in 2012. The overfishing was established by the Commission in co-operation with the Polish control authorities, who have identified misreporting of salmon catches as sea trout, a practice which has led to overfishing of catch quotas.

22. The Commission has approved a number of projects proposed by the Government of Croatia for strengthening its fisheries monitoring control and surveillance capacity, including new technologies and IT networks, and fitting of automatic localisation devices and recording and reporting devices on vessels. The EU will provide financial support of EUR523,000 on eligible expenditure of EUR817,000.

23. Following the Commission's decision in October this year to recommend Albania as a candidate country to membership of the European Union, Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, undertook a two-day trip to Albania to meet senior government officials and entrepreneurs from the fisheries sector and coast guards. She also met Prime Minister Mr Edi Rama, to discuss the Commission's 2013 Enlargement Package, the EU strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, and the Common Fisheries Policy.

24. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union issued its 2013 edition of the "Pocketbook on agriculture, forestry and fishery statistics". The publication is aimed at both generalists and specialists, and presents tables and graphs providing an overview of the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors in the European Union. This edition includes a special section on the newest Member State, Croatia.

25. DG MARE launched a public consultation on marine biotechnology. Member States, regional and local authorities, research institutes and organisations, universities, public organisations, enterprises, civil society and the general public have until 10th February 2014 to submit contributions with the aim of providing information about the marine biotech sector to help establish a robust understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and also of the risks and opportunities that further development of the industry could involve.

26. FARNET, the European Fisheries Areas Network, has produced a new leaflet outlining the multiple opportunities for fisheries communities to use the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) funds under Axis 4 for the sustainable development of fisheries areas. The leaflet explains the main features of Axis 4 and how it can be used to help fishery communities. The leaflet is available in 15 languages.

27. The Commission announced that the 7th European Maritime Day Conference will be held in Bremen (Germany) on 19 and 20 May 2014. The organisers of EMD are the European Commission - DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Labour and Ports of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. The EMD conference will be accompanied by workshops, events and exhibition stands. The central theme of the 2014 conference is innovation and maritime technologies.

Fish hygiene

28. During November 2013, there were 48 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 20 alerts for bivalve molluscs, 1 alert for cephalopods, 2 alerts for crustaceans and 25 alerts for other fish and fish products. These included 3 consignments of live clams from Greece, 8 consignments of clams from Vietnam, 2 consignments of clams from Croatia, 2 consignments of live mussels from France and 2 consignments of chilled swordfish from Sri Lanka.

29. The European Commission decided to extend until 30 November 2014, the emergency measures suspending imports from Peru of certain bivalve molluscs intended for human consumption. Introduction of the measures followed an outbreak of hepatitis A in Europe in 2008, related to the consumption of bivalve molluscs imported from Peru contaminated with hepatitis A virus (HAV). Whilst the Peruvian Competent Authority has presented additional information regarding the corrective measures the monitoring programme results for the last year they do not include the control of Donax clams which were found to be the origin of the outbreak. The Commission therefore considers that the guarantees provided are not sufficient to lift the emergency measure.

30. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published the report of a mission to Chile in April 2013, to assess controls on bivalve molluscs and fishery products exported to the EU. The mission found that in principle the current organisation of the Chilean competent authority, its standards and procedures can be considered as an adequate basis for effective controls. However a number of deficiencies were identified. Production areas that had been suspended by the CA from EU export remained EU listed for long periods of time (up to two years). Monitoring of bivalve production areas was considered to be insufficiently frequent, and only a single sample was taken 15 days prior to the commencement of harvesting. There was no traceability on Pectinidae and gastropods harvested from non-classified production areas, and there was no sampling of gastropods for the control of biotoxins. The mission also found shortcomings in the laboratories performing microbiological testing of live bivalve molluscs, in respect of use of test methods which are not equivalent to or validated against the EU reference method. The Competent Authority was requested to provide guarantees and an action plan to ensure correction of the deficiencies noted.

31. The Commission discussed possible responses to some recent RASFF notifications, including cadmium in tuna meal from Ecuador.

32. The Commission advised Member States that an ELISA test can be used as rapid test for the control of chloramphenicol, and is able to detect chloramphenicol at levels around 0.3 µg/kg.

33. The Commission presented Member States with a draft Commission Regulation proposing changes to the methods analysis for the official control in feed as regards dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs. Technical progress and developments have shown that gas chromatography/ tandem mass spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) can be used as a confirmatory method (in addition to gas chromatography/high resolution mass spectrometry (GC-HRMS). A new section B to Annex V of Commission Regulation (EC) No 152/2009 is proposed.

34. EFSA held a meeting with around 50 specialists in the field of pesticides to present and explain its recently published guidance document on aquatic ecotoxicology. The Authority also discussed key issues raised during the public consultation on the draft guidance which took place from December 2012 to February 2013. Delegates from industry, NGOs, Member State authorities and the European Commission were presented with an overview of tiered risk assessment for plant protection products for aquatic organisms in edge-of-field surface water and risk assessment of active substances and metabolites.

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