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FISHERIES POLICY AND FISH HYGIENE
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December 2013

Common Fisheries Policy


1. Main regulation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy agreed and published
2. Regulation on common organisation of the market for fishery products published
3. EU institutions fail to agree on final shape of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund
4. Commission commences preparations for "discards ban" implementation from 2015
5. Baltic Sea EU Member States to develop joint discards plan
6. EU Fisheries Ministers agreed the 2014 TACS and quotas for commercial fish stocks
7. Commissioner Damanaki makes improved offer to Faroe Islands
8. Parliament approves strengthened regulation of fishing for deep-sea Atlantic species
9. UK has overfishes scallops and crab in 2012; days at sea adjustments in 2013 and 2014
10. Several countries overfish their 2012 quotas; adjustments made to 2013 quotas
11. Some areas of the Baltic excluded from the cod fishing effort limitations
12. Balearic Islands vessels allowed to use towed gears within 3 miles limit
13. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission for several fisheries
14. SEAFO, sets new biannual TACs for Patagonian Toothfish Deep Sea Red Crab
15. New management measures for tropical tunas and sharks in Western and Central Pacific
16. DG MARE subsidises fisheries control and data programmes in Croatia, UK and Spain
17. EU Fisheries Control Agency to organise a seminar on EU discard ban
18. New Protocol under EU Morocco Fisheries Agreement; value EUR40 million/year
19. New Protocol under EU Comoros Fisheries Agreement; value EUR 300,000/year
20. EU Madagascar Fisheries Protocol amended to limit shark catches
21. Commission requires EU fishers to submit marketing plans by February 2014.
22. Commission publishes EU Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture
23. Commission protects name "Puruveden Muikku" for Finnish vendace
24. Commission launches consultation on de minimis aid in the fisheries
25. Commission study; scrapping subsidies not clearly linked to reduced fishing capacity
26. EU sets principles and rules for the operation of EU subsidies, including fisheries fund
27. Commission to organise workshop on how to access Atlantic strategy subsidies
28. Commissioner Damanaki visits Italy to discuss the Blue Economy
29. Commission to hold conference on the Black Sea blue economy in Romania
30. Commission publishes consultation on "Marine Knowledge 2020"
31. EU Parliament supports Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning
32. Committee of the Regions against EU involvement in Maritime Spatial Planning
33. STECF publishes study on EU aquaculture; Production output value EUR4.0 billion
34. Commission amends fish disease compartments; Ireland free of Koi herpes virus
35. Organic fish to eliminate non-organic aquaculture juveniles after 2015.
36. Kenya granted extension to derogation on the export of non-originating tuna to EU
37. Council publishes new tariff quotas for fishery products imported by Canary Islands
38. Commission publishes study on socio-economics of EU fisheries

Fish hygiene


39. During December 2013, the EC notified 60 rapid alerts for fishery products.
40. Commission to relax radionuclide testing on feed and food imported from Japan
41. Baltic working group to agree on common PCB and dioxin risk management
42. Commission to "fine-tune" cadmium limits in fish species
43. New recommendations for monitoring dioxins and PCBs for action levels
44. New testing method for dioxins and PCBs approved
45. Commission approves 14 smoke flavourings with limits to their usage
46. Commission adopts new regulations banning animal cloning and products
47. Commission launches FACET, a risk assessment tool for additive exposure

Common Fisheries Policy

1. On 10th December the European Parliament approved the outstanding measures completing the adoption of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). This will be applied from 1 January 2014. Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, welcomed the decision. The Official Journal of the EU subsequently published the final version of the main regulation of Council and EU Parliament concerning the Common Fisheries Policy for the 10 year period from 1 January 2014. The regulation sets out the principles for a) the conservation of marine biological resources and the management of fisheries and fleets and b) measures on markets and financial measures in support of the implementation of the CFP, including fresh water biological resources, aquaculture, and the processing and marketing of fisheries and aquaculture products. The CFP is to be next reviewed by the 31 December 2022.

2. The Official Journal of the EU also published the final version of the regulation setting out the common organisation of the market for fish and fishery products under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy for the period from 1 January 2014. It sets conditions for the establishment of producer organisations, requirements for production and marketing planning, subsidies for stabilisation of the markets, common marketing standards for fish, and requirements for the provision of information to consumers. The Commission is to report on the feasibility of establishing a Union-wide eco-label scheme for fishery and aquaculture products.

3. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission failed to reach agreement on the outstanding issues in their trilogue on the final text of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The Parliament had previously rejected the Council proposal to bring back funding for building of new fishing vessels and instead increased flexibility enabling the Member States to spend more money on data collection, control and enforcement.

4. The Commission outlined the steps it is taking to put in place the landing obligation (otherwise referred to as a "discards ban") which will be implemented progressively starting from 1 January 2015. The first step is amending legislation on technical conservation measures regarding types of fishing gear used, closed areas, and the permitted composition of catches. There is also a need to replace current minimum landing sizes with minimum conservation references sizes. The Commission adopted a set of proposals for regulatory amendments.

5. The Member States around the Baltic Sea basin signed a Memorandum of Understanding underlining their joint commitment to the implementation of the reformed CFP, and in particular to ensuring a regional approach to fisheries management. Discussions are underway on a discards plan for Baltic stocks.

6. The Council of Fisheries and Agriculture Ministers of the EU agreed the TACS and quotas for commercial fish stocks for 2014 for EU waters and to EU vessels in certain non-EU waters and on fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks in the Black Sea. The agreement is the first to take place in the framework of the reformed CFP and the results are therefore fully consistent with scientific advice and with the principles of Maximum Sustainable Yield. In 2013, 25 stocks were fished at MSY in North Sea and Atlantic and with the TACs decided during this Council the number of stocks fished at MSY will be increased by two (Nephrops west of Scotland and in the North Sea) with western horse mackerel, plaice in the Channel and sole in the Kattegat and Skagerrak expected to be at MSY by 2015. The decision also applies the precautionary principle where insufficient data is available. The provisional TACs were published in a press release. However the agreed mackerel quotas are provisional, pending the results of the negotiations with Norway scheduled for early 2014.

7. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki held meetings in the Faroe Islands with the Prime Minister Johannesen, the Fisheries Minister Vestergaard and exchanged views with the Members of the Foreign Committee of the Faroese Parliament on the mackerel dispute between the EU and Faroes. After the meeting she stated "We had constructive discussions with the Faroese government on a range of issues of mutual interest. On the mackerel question, I have made an improved offer".

8. The European Parliament approved a Commission proposal for strengthened regulation of fishing for deep-sea species in the North-East Atlantic. The proposals include a reinforced licensing system and a gradual phase-out of fishing gears that specifically target deep sea species in a less sustainable manner, namely bottom trawls and bottom-set gillnets. The proposal will now move to Council for consideration.

9. The Commission adopted a decision finding that the UK has overfished its allocation of scallops and crab effort in 2012 by 12.7 % and 7 % respectively in the Irish Sea and Celtic Sea (ICES area VII). The number of days at sea for 2013 and, if necessary 2014, is reduced accordingly.

10. Following findings that several countries have overfished their 2012 quotas for species subject to management, the Commission passed a regulation setting out deductions from 2013 quotas to be applied. Lithuania overfished horse mackerel by 606 tonnes and silver smelt by 400 tonnes, and Spain overfished saithe by 28 tonnes. Adjustments are made to the 2013 quotas.

11. Due to very low levels of catches of cod, the Commission decided that certain areas of the Baltic are to be excluded from the fishing effort limitation provisions of the multi-annual plan for the recovery of this fishery.

12. The Commission passed a regulation granting a derogation for vessels targeting certain species around the Balearic Islands (Spain) from the requirement not to undertake fishing using of towed gears within 3 nautical miles of the coast or within the 50 m isobaths. The Government of Spain is required to implement a monitoring plan and periodically communicate the results to the Commission.

13. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota for French vessels fishing for plaice and Northern Albacore, Dutch vessels fishing for cod, all European Union vessels fishing for redfish, UK vessels fishing for mackerel, plaice, and herring, Spanish vessels fishing for blue marlin, redfish and Greenland Halibut and Portuguese vessels fishing for greater forkbeard.

14. SEAFO, the regional fisheries management organisation for the South East Atlantic Ocean, held its 10th Annual meeting in Namibia on December 9th-13th. In line with scientific advice new biannual TACs were adopted for Patagonian Toothfish, where there was a slight increase in the current TAC in one area, and for Deep Sea Red Crab for which a status quo was agreed. No TAC could be agreed for the depleted Armourhead stock although Korea undertook not to fish more than 300 tonnes. A decision was also taken to strengthening at sea and port state inspection procedures.

15. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) held its 10th plenary session from 2 to 6 December 2013 in Cairns, Australia. It adopted a new Conservation and Management Measure (CMM) for tropical tunas with new provisions on the use of FAD sets and on fishing days on the High Seas. A measure for the conservation of silky sharks was also adopted. However the European Commission was disappointed that more drastic reduction of effort of purse seiners and of longliners were not adopted to reduce bigeye tuna fishing to sustainable. Another proposal of the EU to oblige fishermen to keep shark fins naturally attached to sharks did not gather the necessary support for adoption.

16. DG MARE of the European Commission has approved additional financial support for the 2013 programmes submitted by three Member States (Croatia, UK and Spain) for operation of fisheries control programmes. Nineteen Member States will receive an additional total of EUR7.8 million on eligible expenditures up to EUR10.0 million, covering projects related to traceability, new technologies and IT networks, electronic recording and reporting systems and automatic localisation devices. DG MARE of the European Commission also approved the 2013 programmes submitted by these Member States for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector. Of a total eligible expenditure of EUR24.7 million, the EU will fund EUR12.3 million.

17. The European Fisheries Control Agency announced that it will organise a seminar hosted by Croatia in Dubrovnik on January 15th and 16th 2014, to address the control issues arising from the implementation of the EU discard ban, under the reformed CFP. The seminar will be attended by representatives from Member States and the European Commission as well as the Regional Advisory Councils and scientific organisations.

18. The European Council approved the new Protocol under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco. This sets out the fishing opportunities for EU vessels in Moroccan waters, which includes small-scale fishing, demersal fishing, industrial pelagic fishing and industrial pelagic fishing with non-freezer vessels. The Protocol duration will be four years and the estimated total annual value will be EUR40 million, comprising a financial contribution from the EU of 30 million (including EUR 14 million as support for the fisheries sector in Morocco) and licence fees from vessel owners of EUR10 million. The European Parliament noted in its consent to the conclusion of the Protocol that "an in-built suspension mechanism ensures that the EU can unilaterally suspend the protocol in case of human rights violations". The fishing opportunities under the Protocol are allocated to EU Member States, including Spain, Portugal, Italy France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland, and United Kingdom.

19. The Council approved the Protocol to the EU-Comoros Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which sets out the fishing opportunities and the financial conditions for three years from 1 January 2014. The Protocol grants fishing opportunities for 42 tuna seiners and 20 surface longliners from the EU. The financial contribution comprises an annual amount for access to the Comoros's fishing zone of EUR 300,000, (equivalent to a reference tonnage of 6,000 tonnes per year) and a specific amount of EUR 300,000 per year to support the implementation of the sectoral fisheries policy. The Council allocated the fishing opportunities to Spanish and French tuna seiners and Spanish, French and Portuguese surface longliners.

20. Council Regulation passed a regulation amending the allocation of fishing opportunities under the protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Madagascar. The amendment limits shark catches by surface longliner vessels to a maximum of 200 tonnes annually from 1 January 2014 until 31 December 2014, thereby freezing the fishing pressure on these shark stocks, in line with the recommendation issued by the IOTC Scientific Committee.

21. The Commission passed a regulation dictating the format and structure of production and marketing plans to be prepared and submitted by fishery producer organisations, in line with the requirements of the new regulation of the common organisation of the market for fishery products. Producer organisations are required to submit their first plans to their competent national authorities by end of February 2014.

22. The Commission published the October edition of the EU Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture. This edition features first-sales data for ten commodity groups from eight EU Member States. It also provides data on latest trends in international trade and a special feature on the price structure of brown shrimp in the Netherlands. The Commission also published the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture products for November - December 2013. The publication focuses on first-sales data for ten commodity groups from nine Member States. The publication also investigates the price structure of scallop in the UK and looks at trends in consumption of salted herring.

23. The European Commission has registered the name "Puruveden Muikku" as a protected geographical indication. The name may be used only for vendace (a whitefish species Coregonus albula) caught in the Puruvesi lake basin situated in the north-eastern part of Lake Saimaa (Finland).

24. The Commission launched a consultation to collect the views of citizens and stakeholders on the Commission's draft of the Commission Regulation on the application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to de minimis aid in the fishery and aquaculture sector. State aid not exceeding a certain ceiling over a period of time (so called de minimis aid) is exempted from the notification procedure. The suggestion is to reduce the cumulative aid below the current 2.5% of the annual fishery and aquaculture output, but to retain the individual ceiling of 30,000 EUR per beneficiary over any period of three years.

25. The European Commission published an evaluation on the impacts of permanent and temporary cessation measures in the European Fisheries Fund (EFF). The report, produced by consultants, examines the extent to which: a) EU-funded measures to compensate for permanent cessation helped to adapt fishing capacity to available resources and 2) temporary cessation helped to maintain activity and jobs in periods where activity was interrupted for reasons beyond the control of fishermen. The study provides country-specific findings for Denmark, Estonia, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. It concludes that it is difficult to establish a clear link between the impact of permanent cessation schemes (scrapping schemes) and the reduction in fishing capacity, and that reductions in fishing activity during the EFF programme are more related to regulatory restrictions (e.g. through quota and effort management) than to the reduction of the fleet size itself.

26. The Council and Parliament passed the regulation setting out the principles and rules for the operation of EU subsidies for the period. It sets out the conditions and operational requirements for the implementation of measures funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The regulation is applicable from 1 January 2014.

27. The European Commission will organise on a workshop on how to access and mobilise directly managed EU funds linked to the implementation of its Atlantic strategy. The meeting will be held in Brussels on 17 February 2014, and will cover the design of operational programmes in line with the implementation of the Action Plan for a Maritime Strategy in the Atlantic area. The key financing instruments are those for the environment (LIFE+), the EU's research and innovation funding programme (Horizon 2020) and the programme to assist enterprises and SMEs (COSME). In addition, the European Investment Bank can mobilise its financing tools and expertise in support of suitable projects in order to further the Action Plan's priorities.

28. On 5th December Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Damanaki participated in a conference entitled "European Strategy for Blue Growth - Conditions for a Blue Economy in the Mediterranean" held in Rome. She also visited a number of Italian officials and institutions. Topics of discussions included the state of play of the main initiatives on Blue Growth, EU strategy for the Adriatic Ionian Region (EUSAIR), the implementation of the CFP reform as well as the upcoming year of the Mediterranean in 2014 and the successive Greek and Italian Presidencies of the Council of the European Union.

29. The Commission announced that it will hold a stakeholder's conference hosted by Romania to offer a forum to public administrations and private sector participants of all Black Sea countries to exchange views on the challenges and opportunities offered by the blue economy of the region. It will also seek to encourage cross-sectorial initiatives to stimulate maritime growth in areas of mutual benefit. The conference will be held in Bucharest at the end of January 2014.

30. The European Commission has published the results of its Public Consultation launched on 29 August 2012, in the form of proposals contained in a Green Paper "Marine Knowledge 2020". A total of 244 replies were received from 30 countries, including some from outside the EU. All user groups agreed on the need for open access to marine data, in both its raw and aggregated forms. The general consensus was that a shared platform for disseminating fisheries data with other marine data, including that distributed through the EU's Copernicus space programme, should be a long-term aim. A number of observation technologies were suggested as requiring further research. Of these, novel sensors that can measure parameters automatically without the need to bring samples back to the laboratory were considered as being of high priority.

31. The European Parliament voted to support the Commission's proposal for a Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) which will form a cornerstone policy of the EU's Blue Growth agenda. With the European Council agreeing on the principles of MSP discussions will now be held between the two institutions to finalise the wording of the legislation by April 2014. The aim of the Commission's proposal is to help EU Member States address the uncoordinated use of marine and coastal areas and help clarify the uncertainties on access to the maritime space and multiple pressures on the environment, in particular by improving cross-border cooperation.

32. The Committee of the Regions has provided its opinion on the proposed directive for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management. It suggests that the Directive breaches the proportionality principle, that it provides insufficient flexibility for implementation and will have negative consequences for local and regional planning policy and procedures. It believes that a framework Directive should not establish the content of maritime spatial plans.

33. The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) published a study by the Joint Research Centre on the economic performance of the aquaculture sector in different EU countries. Aquaculture production by the 28 European Union Member States reached 1.35 million tonnes and EUR4.0 billion in 2011. Production is mainly concentrated in 5 countries: France, Greece, Italy, Spain and United Kingdom, making up 77% in volume and 76% in value of EU totals. Production value increased by 8% in 2011, while volume decreased slightly (by 0.3%).

34. The Commission amended its list of compartments considered to be free of infectious diseases of aquaculture animals, following notifications from various Member States. Denmark has successfully eradicated viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) from its whole continental territory; similarly the whole territory of Ireland is declared free of Koi herpes virus (KHV) disease and the UK has also declared Northern Ireland free of this disease.

35. The Commission amended the requirements for the organic production of seaweed and aquaculture animals with a view to progressive reduction of the use of non-organic aquaculture juveniles and non-organic seed of bivalve shellfish. No non-organic aquaculture juveniles will be permnitted after 31 December 2015.

36. Following a request from Kenya, the Commission has extended the derogation on the import of tuna loins derived from non-originating raw materials processed in Kenya. The derogation is extended for a quantity of 1,500 tonnes of tuna loins for the period from 1 January 2014 to 30 September 2014.

37. The Council has published a regulation setting the import quotas for temporary suspension of customs duties on imports by the Canary Islands of fishery products from third countries for the period 2014 to 2020. The measure allows the import without duty of 30,000 tonnes annually of frozen fish, fish fillets, crustacean and molluscs and other aquatic invertebrate products intended for the Canary Islands' domestic market.

38. The European Commission published the findings of a study on the socio-economic dimensions in EU fisheries. The study examines the role of fisheries in coastal communities through the collection of primary data at local level. Fisheries dependencies in coastal areas within Galicia (five harbours in the Pontevedra province), Scotland (5 harbours in the Shetlands), Brittany (Paimpol, Brest and Le Guilvinec) and Sicily (5 harbours in the Palermo province) were analysed. The study looks also considered the feasibility of integrating socio-economic indicators in the future framework for CFP data collection.

Fish hygiene

39. During December 2013, there were 60 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 12 alerts for bivalve molluscs, 2 alerts for cephalopods, 11 alerts for crustaceans and 35 alerts for other fish and fish products. These included 5 consignments of frozen clams from Vietnam, 4 consignments of frozen crayfish from China, and from Spain 3 consignments of swordfish products and 10 consignments of carbon monoxide treatment of chilled tuna fillets.

40. The Commission discussed controls on the import of feed and food originating in or consigned from Japan following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station. No non-compliant samples have been detected by EU authorities, although radiation in some foods in Japan remains above safe limits. The Commission will draft proposal to further relax the restrictions on imports.

41. The Commission and EU Member States agreed to establish a working group to consider the establishment of a common database of all occurrence data on dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs in fish species from the Baltic and to agree on common risk management measures.

42. Following the 2009 EFSA opinion that exposure to cadmium at the population levels should be reduced, the Commission and Member States launched discussions regarding methods of reduction. An early decision is that an immediate reduction of the existing maximum levels for a number of major contributors would be difficult to achieve at this moment. However, some fine-tuning of existing MLs for a number of fish species was agreed and will be implemented by the Commission.

43. The Commission published new recommendations that increased monitoring for the presence of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs be undertaken in free-range eggs, organic eggs, lamb and sheep liver, Chinese mitten crab, dried herbs and clays as food supplements, with a view to assessing whether action levels are being exceeded. Action levels for these substances in foods were published in 2002 and 2011 respectively, and represent a tool for competent authorities and operators to highlight cases where it is appropriate to identify a source of contamination and to take measures for its reduction or elimination.

44. The Commission and the Member States agreed to a Commission proposal to modify the methods of sampling and analysis for the control of levels of dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs in certain foodstuffs. A new draft Commission Regulation provides that GC MS/MS can be used as confirmatory method for checking compliance with maximum levels for the analysis of dioxins and PCBs in food (in addition to the HRGC/ HRMS). The method has a similar level of reliability and is cheaper.

45. The Commission passed a regulation establishing a list of approved smoke flavourings for use in foods, following the receipt of 14 valid applications from producers after publication of the initial list in 2003. The use of smoke flavourings is generally considered to be of less health concern than the use of smoke that is made by burning wood or by heating sawdust or woodchips. However, EFSA has recommended limits to their concentrations, and a positive list of authorised applications is set out in the Annex to the Regulation.

46. The European Commission adopted three draft regulations on animal cloning and on novel foods which will provide legal certainty in this field. Two proposals will ban the use of the cloning technique in the EU for farm animals and the imports of these animal clones. The marketing of food from animal clones will also be prohibited (although on four separate occasions EFSA risk assessment has concluded that there is no indication of any difference for food safety on meat and milk of clones and their offspring compared with those of conventionally bred animals). Tonio Borg, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy issued a press release welcoming the proposals and claimed that the bans are designed to address animal welfare and ethical concerns.

47. The Commission's Joint Research Centre launched FACET, a Flavourings, Additives, and Food Contact Materials Exposure Tool consisting of a downloadable programme to estimate the EU consumers' exposure to these substances. The FACET tool contains databases of chemical concentrations for flavourings and additives, industry data on retail packaging composition, chemical occurrence data or their prediction, and food consumption diaries, which are then combined into probabilistic dietary exposure models based on EU consumer consumption profiles. The tool can be used to measure how different population groups (age, gender, people staying loyal to a given brand, or changing products) are exposed to different types of food additives, flavourings or packaging substances. It also provides the option to compare exposure to specific types of foods (containing different flavouring agents for example) or packaging (for example cans versus jars), or to all types of foods in which a given chemical could be present. It is not applicable to non-European situations where exposure will vary due to differing food consumption habits.


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