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February 2014

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Commission DG Environment: "Europe's seas and oceans are not in good shape."
2. European Parliament proposes excluding fish from EU - Thailand trade agreement
3. DG MARE: good prospects for resolving mackerel; delays Norway discussions
4. Stop fishing notices flounder, skates and rays
5. Commissioner Damanaki and Parliament consider fisheries control legislation
6. Commission corrects financial support amounts for fisheries control in 2012
7. Commission updates blacklist of IUU fishing vessels
8. The FP7 STAGES project identifies marine environment knowledge gaps
9. South Pacific Fisheries Management Organisation sets catch quota for Jack Mackerel
10. DG MARE publishes study on Atlantic tuna fisheries and limitations of FPAs
11. European Council approves fisheries protocols with Côte d'Ivoire and Kiribati
12. European Parliament approves fisheries protocol with Gabon
13. Moroccan Parliament approves EU Morocco fisheries protocol
14. DG MARE advises caution interpreting evaluation report of EU-Mauritania FPA
15. DG MARE assess potential impacts of FPA with Senegal; first since 2006
16. DG MARE publishes evaluation of EU- São Tomé e Príncipe FPA; "not beneficial"
17. UK and Estonia to provide financial subsidies to fisheries operators
18. DG MARE publishes new edition of the European Market Observatory
19. Commissioner Damanaki visits US
20. Commissioner Damanaki speaks at the World Ocean Summit in San Francisco
21. The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation announces intern post vacancies
22. Commission promotes its "Inseparable"

Fish hygiene

23. During February 2014; 40 rapid alert notifications for fishery products.
24. DG SANCO reports on dioxin controls in Sweden; breach of derogation conditions
25. DG SANCO on fish health controls in Hungary; health status in jeopardy
26. Commission comments on Codex Fish and Fishery Products proposals
27. EFSA publishes framework for the identification of emerging chemical risks
28. Commission amends notification rules for infectious salmon anaemia (ISA)

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Commission's DG Environment, published a report on the environmental status of Europe's seas, presented at the "Healthy Oceans - Productive Ecosystems" (HOPE) conference in Brussels on 3-4 March. The report sets out what is required to achieve good environmental status by 2020, being the objective of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said: "Europe's seas and oceans are not in good shape." The report notes that efforts to improve the situation are hampered by a lack of coordination between Member States.

2. The European Parliament published the text of a proposed resolution regarding the impacts on the European fishing sector of the proposed Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Thailand. The motion calls for the Commission to ensure that European canned and prepared fish and shellfish are considered sensitive products and that canned and prepared fish and shellfish from Thailand remain subject to the current tariffs and are thus excluded from tariff liberalisation.

3. DG MARE announced that a final attempt to secure consensus amongst the Coastal States on the unresolved mackerel dispute will take place in Edinburgh on 3-4 March. The Commission considers that given the proximity of the parties' positions, the prospects for an end to the four year long dispute between the North-East Atlantic fishing parties - EU, Norway, Iceland and Faroe Islands, are good. Bilateral discussions between the European Commission and the Norwegian fisheries authorities regarding fisheries arrangements for 2014 were adjourned appending the outcome of the mackerel discussions.

4. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota for all European Union vessels fishing for yellowtail flounder, Belgian vessels fishing for skates and rays and Dutch vessels fishing for skates and rays.

5. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki addressed a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, setting out the need to align the rules of the fisheries control Regulation with the Treaty of Lisbon. There is a need to define the role of the European Parliament in decision making regarding implementing and delegating fisheries control legislation.

6. The European Commission corrected the publication of the allocation of available financial support for Member States' expenditure on fisheries control, inspection and surveillance programmes for 2012.

7. The European Commission updated its blacklist of IUU fishing vessels, to respond to changes in the IUU vessels identified by regional fisheries management organisations.

8. The FP7-funded STAGES project organised three workshops to highlight specific knowledge in the five thematic groups set out under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, and in which Member States are to achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020: Biodiversity; Contaminants & Nutrients; Disturbances; Commercially Exploited Fish; and Hydrographical Conditions. The workshops involved six days of discussion by 79 experts in total, and the results will provide short-term, medium-term and long-term recommendations for further research.

9. The Commission of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) held its second annual meeting, from 27 to 31 January, 2014 in Manta, Ecuador. The parties adopted a series of important conservation and enforcement measures, including a binding global catch quota of 440,000t for Jack Mackerel, and new regulations on bottom fishing.

10. DG MARE of the European Commission published a study by consultants on Atlantic tuna fisheries. It sets out the environmental characteristics, fleet characteristics, catch trends and the conservation and management measures in place. The report also considers the contribution of the fisheries access arrangements under the EU's Fisheries Partnership Agreements with third countries. The main issues in relation to strengthening the network of FPAs are identified as: i) the presence of other foreign, competing fleets (Asian and EU vessel companies flying third country flags); ii) obsolete regulatory frameworks in third countries; iii) difficulties faced by fisheries administrations in third countries to enforce rules and to ensure surveillance of fisheries activities.

11. The European Council approved the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution under the EU - Côte d'Ivoire Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The Protocol was published in June 2013. The Council also approved the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution under the EU-Kiribati Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The Protocol was published in October 2012.

12. The European Parliament approved a new protocol to the EU-Gabon Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The Protocol provides fishing opportunities for fishing vessels from Spain and France to catch up to a reference tonnage of 20,000 tonnes of tunas, in return for an annual EU payment of EUR1.35 million. Of this amount, EUR450.000 is allocated to assist the Gabonese fishing sector. The new protocol covers a period of three years. The vote was welcomed by Commissioner Damanaki.

13. Members of the Moroccan Parliament, meeting in a plenary session on Wednesday 12th February, voted to approve the protocol between Morocco and the EU setting the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the fisheries partnership agreement between the two parties. The vote will allow more than 100 European vessels to fish in Moroccan waters again, in return for a sum of EUR40 million paid by the EU.

14. DG MARE of the Commission published the executive summary of the ex-post and ex-ante evaluation by consultants of the Protocol to the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The current protocol was found to be only partially effective in that it has allowed the exploitation of less than 50% of the opportunities for annual catches during the first 11 months of implementation. Active vessels which generated a positive added value were from the tuna purse seiners and bait boats, trawlers for small pelagic fish, and vessels targeting hake and other demersal fish. No support measures were implemented during the period. However DG MARE of the Commission published a "working document" commenting on the study and advising caution in interpretation of cost and benefit data, due to the difficulties in obtaining reliable price data.

15. DG MARE of the European Commission published a study evaluating the potential for a new Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol with Senegal (following the non-renewal of the protocol in 2006). The report recommends that there is interest of both parties in establishing a new agreement and protocol which would provide access for about 23 purse seiners and 8 pole and line vessels from EU Member States.

16. DG MARE of the Commission published the executive summary of the ex-post and ex-ante evaluation of the Protocol to the EU- São Tomé e Príncipe Fisheries Partnership Agreement. In 2011, the uptake of fishing opportunities was close to 100 % for tuna purse seiners and surface longliners. In 2012, it was down to 80 % for the former and only 33 % for the latter. However for every EUR1 of the financial contribution spent by the EU, the direct gross added value for the EU is EUR0.45, showing that the FPA is not beneficial in terms of public investment. Low catches are the main reason for this poor performance.

17. The Commission published information regarding subsidies paid to fisheries organisation by EU Member States. These include GBP 50,000/year paid by the UK to the Scottish Seafood Association for collective actions to aid the fish processing sector and EUR 44,167 paid by Estonia to OÜ Viru Rand, to support processing and preserving of fish, crustaceans and molluscs.

18. DG MARE published the January 2014 edition of the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products. Most of the reporting countries experienced decreases in both first-sales value and volume. The United Kingdom saw the highest decrease in both value and volume, while Sweden registered the greatest increase in volume. This edition also profiles the USA market for seafood, where consumption has exhibited a slight downward trend. In 2012, consumption per capita decreased 4% compared with 2011.

19. Commissioner Damanaki visited the United States and attended the World Ocean Summit 2014 in San Francisco, organised by The Economist. During her visit she met with Dr Jane Lubchenco, former US Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, and with the co-chairs of the Global Ocean Commission Mr David Miliband and Mr José María Figueres.

20. Following opening remarks by HRH the Prince of Wales and John Kerry, US Secretary of State, Commissioner Damanaki delivered a speech at the World Ocean Summit entitled "The Ocean as the new Economic Frontier?" She set out the objective for maritime economic development, to create a secure investment climate and at the same time protect the vital resource that is the sea. She set out the EU approach to 'Blue growth' by looking at specific areas of opportunity such as ocean energy, aquaculture, tourism, blue biotechnology, and deep-sea mining.

21. The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) announced vacancies for the 2014 Intern Program, which allows students, post-graduates or early career individuals from NAFO member countries an opportunity to improve their skills, enhance their experience and learn about NAFO and its activities. Interns will work at the NAFO Secretariat in Canada for a 3 month term. More details are available from

22. The Commission continued promoting its "Inseparable" website, aimed at providing information to consumers on sustainable fisheries.

Fish hygiene

23. During February 2014, there were 40 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 alerts for bivalve molluscs, 4 alerts for crustaceans, 27 alerts for other fish and fish products and 1 alert for gastropods. These included 3 consignments of chilled clams from Tunisia, 3 consignments of clams from Vietnam and 3 consignments of carbon monoxide treatment of chilled tuna from Spain.

24. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission reported on a mission to Sweden to evaluate the controls on marine environmental contaminants in fish from the Baltic region, in September 2013. The mission found that Sweden's Food Safety Authority (NFA) has provided objective dietary advice regarding elevated levels of dioxins and PCBs in Baltic fishery products, to consumers and has also evaluated the effectiveness of this advice, in line with the requirements of EU regulations. However the mission found that fish from the Baltic region with potentially excessive levels of dioxins and PCBs had been sold on the market of other EU countries, and that official controls had not detected this breach of the conditions of Sweden's derogation. A number of recommendations were made to ensure that controls are strengthened in future.

25. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission reported on a mission to Hungary to evaluate the animal controls in place for live aquaculture animals, in September 2013. The mission found that the competent authority of Hungary does not does not yet have systems in place to ensure that the aquatic animal health rules in EU legislation are adhered to or that aquaculture production businesses which have been authorised meet the conditions set out in EU legislation. Although there is a functioning surveillance programme for KHV disease (a disease of cyprinid fish) the planning and implementation of controls is undermined by the lack of a contingency plan, training, and documented procedures. The mission concluded that incorrect health certification, failure to identify incorrect incoming health certificates for live fish and the lack of insight into, and checks on, the trade and storage of live fish ultimately intended for human consumption, jeopardise the health status of susceptible fish populations.

26. The European Commission published its comments a number of proposals to be discussed at the Codex Committee on Fish and Fishery Products held in Bergen Norway in February. It offered comments in relation to permitted additives in smoked fishery products. It stated that it is broadly in agreement with Norwegian proposals regarding performance criteria for reference and confirmatory methods for marine biotoxins in raw and live bivalve molluscs. The Commission suggested however that there is a need for further clarification of the scope of the proposed Codex Draft Code of Practice on the Processing of Scallop Meat.

27. The European Food safety Authority published a document setting out a systematic framework for the identification of emerging chemical risks occurring in the food and feed chain with a likely direct or indirect impact on human, animal and/or plant health. It describes data sources as an input, relating to, hazards such as industrial chemicals, environmental occurrence of chemical contaminants, and describes software models that can be used to predict the environmental behaviour and potential toxicity of chemical substances.

28. The Commission amended the requirements regarding notification of infectious salmon anaemia (ISA), to reflect recent research on the different genotypes of the causal virus, and to recognise the modified requirements of the World Animal Health Organisation in this respect.

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