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April 2014

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Parliament approves EUR6.5 billion fisheries subsidies for 2014-2020
2. EU, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation agree on Atlanto-Scandian herring
3. Iceland declares unilateral quota from NE Atlantic mackerel stock
4. EU, Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway agree on blue whiting TAC and shares
5. Commission proposes changes to rules on Member State fishery subsidies
6. Committee of the Regions worried about effect of subsidies on sustainability
7. EU wide agreement on multiannual fisheries management plans
8. Parliament publishes study on rights-based fisheries
9. EU Council approves more detailed specification of acoustic deterrent devices
10. EU Fisheries Control Agency organises workshop on bluefin tuna controls
11. Some 2014 fishing quotas adjusted in line with international agreements
12. Stop fishing notices published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota
13. Updated list of EU ports for transhipment and landings by third countries
14. Commissioner Damanaki attends the final meeting of the Fisheries Committee
15. EU and a Senegal agree on a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement.
16. DG MARE publishes study on possible access agreement with Liberia
17. DG MARE criticises Morocco over fisheries protocol ratification delays
18. Council decides on agreements with Madagascar, Seychelles and Gabon.
19. Parliament consents to agreements with Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles.
20. Commission publishes 2014 edition of CFP statistical information
21. Commission publishes report on EU fishing capacity; reduction too slow
22. EUMOFA publishes economic analysis of the European fish Market
23. EU Parliament endorses Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning
24. Commissioner Damanaki speaks on opportunities in the Atlantic and Blue Growth
25. EU delegates maritime safety treaty accession rights to Member States
26. Joint Research Centre publishes guidance on marine litter monitoring

Fish hygiene

27. During April 2014; 49 rapid alert notifications for fishery products
28. DG SANCO mission to Portugal to evaluate bivalve controls: "tangible risk for public health"
29. DG SANCO mission to Saudi Arabia: number of shortcomings
30. EFSA publishes annual report for 2013; 600 scientific outputs delivered
31. Commission allowed to amend dioxins and PCB screening and cut-off values

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Following the political agreement reached between the European Parliament and the Council in January, the European Parliament voted in favour of adopting a regulation on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). With a budget of €6.5 billion for 2014-2020, the fund will finance projects to implement the new reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP). It will provide financial support to fishermen, fish farmers and coastal communities to adapt to the changed rules. The Fund will also finance projects to boost "blue" growth and jobs. The Regulation will now go to Fisheries Ministers in the Council for final adoption and the EMFF to come into force in June this year.

2. Four Coastal States (European Union, Iceland, Norway and the Russian Federation) also agreed on an arrangement for Atlanto-Scandian herring for 2014, establishing a TAC level of 418,487 tonnes, of which the EU quota is 27,244 tonnes. Faroe Islands was not able to agree the TAC, but the parties reserved a quota of 21,594 tonnes should it wish to enter into the agreement.

3. Iceland has declared a unilateral mackerel quota of 147,574 tonnes, being its share of the NE Atlantic mackerel stock. The quota conforms to the share figure it had previously claimed in the Coastal State mackerel negotiations (namely 11.9% of a TAC 1,240,000 tonnes). The declaration opens the possibility of Iceland entering the five year agreement on catch shares for this species agreed in March by the EU, Norway and Faroe Islands.

4. At a meeting held on 28 March the EU, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Norway agreed on the sharing of the blue whiting stock in the North-East Atlantic for 2014. Based on an agreed TAC of 1.2 million tonnes the EU quota will be 331,348 tonnes, which is almost double the 2013 quota level and reflects the improved condition of the stock. The Coastal States also agreed to coordinate scientific research in order to improve the assessment and management of the stock. However the EU also gave notice to the other coastal states that it intends to renegotiate the current catch shares in the light of a recent report from the NEAFC.

5. The European Commission published the draft of a regulation which will revise the exemptions to the notification requirements for state aids (subsidies) by EU Members States, in relation to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) active in the production, processing or marketing of fishery and aquaculture products. The proposal will permit subsidies subject to compliance with the conditions set out, which are considered to be compatible with the internal market. This includes block exemptions for aid for innovation, advisory services, partnership between scientists and fishermen, to promote human capital and social dialogue, to facilitate diversification and new forms of income, to start-up support for young fishermen, to improve health and safety and to support systems of allocation of fishing opportunities (as well as others). The regulation will not apply to for individual projects with eligible costs in excess of EUR 2 million, or where the amount of aid exceeds EUR 1 million per beneficiary per year, which must be notified to the Commission. The Commission launched a public consultation on the proposed changes and interested stakeholders are requested to provide comments before 4th, June 2014.

6. The EU's Committee of the Regions provided its opinion on the Commission's proposals for reform of the state aids in fisheries and aquaculture granted by Member States (de minimis and block exemption regulations). Whilst broadly supportive of the reforms in line with the new Common Fisheries Policy, it calls on the Commission to ensure that there is no scope neither through the State Aid regulations nor through the EMFF to support unsustainable fishing practices. The Opinion also highlights a study commissioned for DG Maritime Affairs in 2009 which estimated around EUR718 million was available from EU Member States under the de minimis aid regulation, but stated that actual figures on this are difficult to obtain due to lack of effective monitoring. A further EUR 8 million per annum was estimated to be granted by Member States under the fisheries block exemption regulation.

7. The European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council reached an agreement on April 2nd on an approach to the development and adoption of multiannual fisheries management plans under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The Commission will table proposals for multiannual plans based on scientific evidence and which reflect the long-term sustainability of fish stocks. The plans will also allow for a greater say for regional advisory councils in management decisions.

8. The European Parliament (DG Internal Policies) published a study entitled "Best Practice in the use of Rights-based Management to Reduce Discards in Mixed Fisheries; In Depth Analysis" prepared by Ragnar Arnason, Department of Economics, University of Iceland. The study discusses the concept of rights based management of fisheries, and shows how it alters the incentives for harvest using more selective gears and for discarding, compared to the alternatives. The study presents examples from several nations (Iceland, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway and the USA) which have all adopted individual transferable quotas (ITQs) in their fisheries management regimes, and shows how this has helped to reduce discard rates. Based on these examples, the best practices are summarised.

9. The European Council gave its opinion on proposed changes to the rules governing cetacean bycatch in EU fisheries. The amendment provides for more detailed specification of acoustic deterrent devices on certain fishing gears, and delegates additional powers to the Commission for setting technical conditions under the regulation.

10. The European Fisheries Control Agency organised a workshop on monitoring and control of Eastern bluefin tuna fishery in the ICCAT (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna). It was held on the 25-26 March 2014 in Vigo, Spain, and attended by representatives from both EU countries in the Mediterranean as well as other ICCAT contracting parties such as Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Turkey. This was the second workshop organized and hosted by the EFCA related to the control and monitoring of the Eastern bluefin tuna fishery.

11. The European Council amended some of the 2014 fishing quotas allocated to EU Member States, taking account of a number of international agreements established since January, namely, sharing of fishery resources with Norway and the Faroe Islands, and the management of stocks under the auspices of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission.

12. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota for Spanish vessels fishing for tusk, blue ling in the Union, and blue marlin, all EU vessels fishing for redfish in NAFO 3M area, and Dutch vessels fishing for skates and rays.

13. The European Commission published the list of designated ports in all EU maritime Member States where landings and transhipment operations of fishery products are allowed, and port services are accessible for third country fishing vessels.

14. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki attended the final meeting of the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament ahead of the Parliamentary elections on May 25th. She thanked chairman Gabriel Mato Adrover for ensuring the principle of sustainability remained the core of EU fisheries policy, and praised the role of the Committee in shaping the reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy.

15. Eight years after the expiry of the last protocol, the European Commission reached agreement with the Government of Senegal on the conclusion of a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement. This will allow 38 vessels targeting tuna and other large pelagic fishes to once again operate in the Senegalese EEZ, subject to a compensation of EUR8.7 million over five years.

16. DG MARE of the European Commission published an ex ante evaluation of a possible future Sustainable Fisheries Agreement and protocol between the EU and Liberia. The study concludes that it is "preferable" for the parties to conclude an Agreement. EU purse seiners caught 5,796 t of tuna in Liberian waters in 2011 and the study suggests that the fishing opportunities of interest would be for skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna, for at least the 23 EU registered purse seine vessels currently operating in the Atlantic Ocean. However there is a need for Liberia to define the coordinates of its fisheries zone, and for the parties to ensure that any sector support measures are coherent with the Liberian fisheries policy that is currently being finalised.

17. The European Commission DG for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries criticised the Government of Morocco for the delay in ratification of the protocol to the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which has prevented EU vessels from benefiting from the Agreement since the EU completed its internal ratification on 16 December 2013.

18. European Council of Ministers adopted a decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations on behalf of the EU for a renewal of the protocol to the fisheries partnership agreement (FPA) with Madagascar, which expires in December 2014. The Council also adopted a decision on the signing, of the agreement between the European Union and the Republic of the Seychelles on access for fishing vessels flying the flag of the Seychelles to waters and marine biological resources of Mayotte, under the jurisdiction of the EU. European Council of Ministers published its Decision regarding the approval of the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and Gabon.

19. The European Parliament gave its consent to the EU's new Fisheries Partnership Agreements with Comoros, Madagascar and Seychelles. These can now be ratified by the Council on behalf of the EU.

20. The European Commission published the 2014 edition of statistical information on EU fisheries, covering state of EU fish stocks, the fishing fleet, fish processing and marketing data, employment, fisheries and aquaculture production, international trade and fish consumption. One section sets out the financial subsidies provided to the fishery sector within the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy.

21. The European Commission published its annual report on the European fishing fleet, which shows that the fishing capacity of the EU fleet was 16.4% below the capacity ceilings set for tonnage and 10.4 % below the ceiling for engine power. Between January 2007 and July 2012, the European Fisheries Fund paid EUR464 million of subsidies for decommissioning of 3,700 fishing vessels. The Commission is not satisfied with the rate of capacity reduction and says more remains to be done to ensure that stocks are managed in accordance with the objective of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY).

22. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA) published a major report "The EU fish market" which provides an economic analysis of the European markets for fisheries and aquaculture products. Available in four languages, the report considers supplies to market from production, and imports, as well as exports from the EU. It also provides an analysis of fish consumption trends and a structural analysis of fishery and aquaculture sectors in comparison with other food industries. The main finding is that EU consumption of fish dropped by 5% between 2008 and 2010 but has since remained stable. EU self-sufficiency for fishery products has remained stable at around 45% between 2008 and 2011. Shrimp is the leading species imported in terms of value, ahead of salmon and cod.

23. The European Parliament endorsed the Directive for Maritime Spatial Planning which requires Member States to develop plans to coordinate the various activities that take place in their coastal and maritime areas. The Directive aims to reduce potential conflicts between diverse uses and create a stable environment for sustainable growth. The Directive will come into force after adoption by the Council of Ministers. Member States must then transpose the Directive into their national legislation by 2016 and nominate the Competent Authority in charge of implementation.

24. Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech entitled "The EU's Maritime and Fisheries Policy: Putting Portugal on the Path to Growth" at the Conference "Portugal: Path to Growth and Jobs" held in Lisbon, on 11 April 2014. She outlined the role of the Atlantic Strategy and its Action Plan in the EU's Blue Growth Strategy, and indicated how Portugal might benefit from investments in shipping safety, ports, renewable energies and marine biotechnologies, with support available from the new Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

25. The Council of Ministers delegated to EU Member States the right to accede to the Cape Town Agreement of 2012 under the Torremolinos International Convention for the Safety of Fishing Vessels 1977. Although maritime safety in Europe is the within the exclusive competence of the EU, the Union cannot become a party to the Agreement, as only states can be signatories. The delegation of signatory rights will also allow the Convention to enter into force since the necessary minimum number of signatories for ratification may then be achieved.

26. The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission released a guidance document for the monitoring of marine litter in European seas. It provides the Member States with recommendations and information in order to support establishing monitoring programmes, and will this support implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The report "Guidance on Monitoring of Marine Litter in European Seas" proposes protocols for the monitoring of litter and micro litter (small litter fragments below 5 mm) in various compartments of the marine environment such as seashore, seafloor, sea-surface and biota. The protocols presented in this report describe the different steps needed to observe, identify, sample, analyse and quantify litter. It also provides information on the financial costs of litter surveys and possible tools to conduct them. The guidance document is available at:

Fish hygiene

27. During April 2014, there were 49 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 14 alerts for bivalve molluscs, 1 alert for cephalopods, 6 alerts for crustaceans and 28 alerts for other fish and fish products. These included 7 consignments of frozen clams and 2 consignments of frozen shrimps from Vietnam, 2 consignments of smoked sprats from Latvia, 2 consignments of smoked trout fillets from Denmark, 2 consignments of swordfish from Spain and 2 consignments of dogfish from the Netherlands

28. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission reported on a mission to Portugal conducted in September 2013, to evaluate the national food safety controls on bivalve molluscs, and to follow up on a previous mission in 2004. The mission found that the official control system presents numerous significant failures, related to the classification of production areas, the monitoring of areas for microbiology, toxin-producing plankton and biotoxins, and the decisions based on the results. The mission found that there are three authorities with responsibilities for official controls over the safety of bivalve molluscs with little formal cooperation between them. Production zones were not revised based on monitoring results, sampling plans were not always followed, nor modified depending on monitoring results, several important toxins were not monitored, and some areas appeared not to have been subject to microbiological monitoring. Harvest bans were only placed on species in which high levels of toxins had been found, instead of all species in the area. These deficiencies represent a "tangible risk for public health" and the system cannot offer all the necessary guarantees that bivalve molluscs placed on the market for human consumption comply with EU public health requirements. The Competent Authorities concerned were required to submit a plan of corrective actions to the Commission.

29. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission reported on a mission to Saudi Arabia conducted in November 2013, to evaluate the food safety controls on fishery products intended for export to the European Union, and to follow up on a previous mission in 2003. The mission found that the system of controls implemented by the Competent Authority can offer adequate guarantees concerning the sanitary conditions for fishery and aquaculture products. However a number of shortcomings were identified. Lead and cadmium limits in fishery products were not defined in the legislation, and there were no controls applied to additives used in shrimp. Furthermore the scope of accreditation of the testing laboratory did not extend to chemical methods. The Competent Authority, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, was recommended to address these in a plan of corrective actions to be submitted to the Commission.

30. The European Food Safety Authority, the EU's food safety risk assessment body, published its annual report for 2013. More than 600 scientific outputs were delivered covering the entire scope of the food chain. EFSA also provided urgent advice on some important public health risks including Hepatitis A and Salmonella mikawasima. EFSA has reorganised its Risk Assessment & Scientific Assistance Department, and introduced the first phase of a new quality management system. It also launched an initiative aimed at promoting access to data and transparency in risk assessment.

31. The EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers decided to allow a Commission Regulation amending regulation 152/2009 as regards the determination of the levels of dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls in feeds. The amendments set out additional requirements concerning screening methods and cut-off values, in excess of which the original sample should be analysed by means of a confirmatory method capable of more accurate quantification.

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