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July 2014

Common Fisheries Policy

1. DG MARE extends IUU control deadlines for Curacão, Ghana and Korea
2. IUU regulation controls detect 83 infringements in 2011
3. EU amends 2014 TACs and quotas in the North Atlantic and Pacific
4. EU Council of Ministers warns reduced fishing opportunities needed to meet Maximum Sustainable Yield
5. Study shows EU technical measures not effective in protecting juvenile fish
6. Study on small-scale driftnet fisheries critical of control regime
7. Commission publishes priority guidelines for fisheries subsidies
8. Commission publishes requirements for fishery subsidies plans by Member States
9. Commission allows adjustment of public funding rates for fishery subsidies
10. EU renews derogation on import of non-originating shrimp from Greenland
11. New import tariff quotas opened for fishery products from Iceland and Norway
12. EU and Norway agree mutual fisheries access in Skagerrak and Kattegat
13. EU and Ecuador finalise agreement; potential lower tariffs on fish trade
14. DG MARE critical of IATTC meeting; no conservation measures on Bluefin tuna
15. Morocco ratifies Protocol to the EU Fisheries Partnership Agreement
16. EU vessels required to leave Mauritanian waters at the end of July
17. EU and Guinea Bissau agree to re-activate Fisheries Partnership Agreement
18. EU and Mozambique opened talks on new FPA Protocol
19. European Market Observatory for Fishery and Aquaculture features Pangasius
20. EU Council adopts Maritime Spatial Planning Directive
21. DG MARE launches the maritime Common Information Sharing Environment
22. Commissioner Damanaki speaks in London on the blue economy
23. EU to support ecosystem approach in Mediterranean's Pelagos Sanctuary
24. DG MARE publishes press release on the need to safeguard European seas
25. Commission amends rules regarding Community fishing fleet register
26. Commissioner Damanaki states her most significant achievements in her job

Fish hygiene

27. During July 2014; 34 rapid alert notifications for fishery products
28. DG SANCO reports on bivalve molluscs controls in Ireland; several deficiencies
29. DG SANCO reports on Russia; Competent Authority export certificates misleading
30. DG SANCO reports on Mauritius; multiple shortcomings, especially on HACCP
31. DG SANCO reports on Panama; poor follow-up and unaccredited laboratory
32. Moldova added to list of countries permitted to supply fishery products to the EU
33. Commission proposes common database for PCBs and dioxins in Baltic fish
34. EU moves towards polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons derogation for EU's traditional smoked products
35. EFSA concludes that seafood is good for neuro-development in children
36. ECsafeSEAFOOD starts trials on online fish nutrient and contaminant profiles
37. EU Reference Laboratory for heavy metals improves analytical support tools

Common Fisheries Policy

1. DG MARE has announced that it has extended the deadlines by a further 6 months for Curacão, Ghana and Korea, following the issuing in November 2013 of "yellow cards" to each, informing them that they were being considered as possibly non-cooperating third countries in terms on implementation of the requirements of the EU Regulation on IUU fishing regulation (1005/2008). The Commission considers that all three have made credible progress towards complying with their obligations as flag, coastal, port or market States.

2. The Commission published a study by consultants on the current status of implementation of the EU's flagship regulation on IUU fishing. It found that 24 Member States have either created or updated existing national laws to implement new controls on IUU fishing. Spain and France in particular centralised their control institutions to allow for more efficient implementation. Countries reported a total of 4,283 landings and transhipments by third country fishing vessels between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2011. Six countries (Cyprus, Denmark, Spain, UK, Ireland and Portugal) reported that they had detected a total of 83 infringements, with Spain accounting for 75 of the total. The total number of catch certificates presented to Member States for verification on import between 1 January 2010 and 31 December 2011 was estimated to be 553,559. Member States have requested greater transparency of the outcomes from DG MARE audits and inspections to other Member States and evaluations to third countries.

3. The EU amended a number of fishing opportunities granted to EU vessels, to take account of changes in scientific advice on fish stocks, international agreements and miscalculations in previously published total allowable catches. Modifications are made to EU capelin quotas in Greenland and redfish, Greenland halibut and mackerel quotas in the North Atlantic. The Regulation also prohibits the retention onboard of certain sharks in the area covered by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

4. The EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers held an exchange of views on a Commission communication proposing the fishing opportunities for 2015. Member States acknowledged the overall improvement in the stocks, but also noted that the reformed CFP will impact on future fishing opportunities since for many stocks the total allowable catches (TACs) will need to be set at a level which will achieve the maximum sustainable yields (MSY) by 2015

5. DG MARE of the European Commission published a report of a study to evaluate retrospectively the current regime of technical measures for the conservation of fish stocks and to carry out an impact assessment of prospective new measures tabled by the Commission in 2014. The report found that whilst technical measures are needed, the current measures are not effective at avoiding catches of juvenile fish or unwanted fish species, since they are not sufficiently adapted to the specificities of the different EU fisheries. It also found that cost effectiveness has not been maximized because: the results of MCS are not widely available; measures to correct legislation are lengthy; legislation is often unclear and ambiguous; and there is a wide range of piece-meal legislation that has been put in place over time. Their main unexpected effect is that it creates the conditions for discarding fish catches which inadvertently do not meet the technical requirements.

6. DG MARE of the European Commission published a study undertaken by consultants on the EU's Small-Scale Driftnet Fisheries. The study assessed the impacts of the small scale driftnet fisheries in EU countries, in terms of environmental impacts, fishery resources and socioeconomic dependency, as well as evaluating the control measures applied to this segment of the fishing industry. The study identified 44 active driftnet fisheries in 7 EU countries, which account for around 3000 vessels, targeting over 20 different species. The report is critical of a lack of clarity in the EU regulations, and questions the need for a separate regulatory regime for driftnets. It also concludes that there is no justification for implementation of a total ban on the use of driftnets, since other static/passive gears pose similar risks to protected species.

7. The Commission published a decision regarding the EU-wide priorities for investments in fisheries enforcement and controls under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). These will include action plans for the removal of shortcomings in the control system of a Member State, implementation of data validation systems, enforcement of the new landing obligation, enforcing fleet capacity limitations, Specific Control and Inspection Programmes and checks on the traceability of the fishery products for compliance with the IUU catch certification scheme.

8. The Commission published the rules regarding the presentation of operational programmes by Member States concerning measures to be co-financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The rules cover the structure of plans for the compensation of additional costs incurred by fishery business operators in the outermost regions, the elements to be contained in reports on the ex-ante evaluation of operational programmes, and the evaluation steps for operational programmes. Model structures are provided in an Annex.

9. The Commission passed a regulation to allow for adjustment of the public funding proportion of financial support under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, so as to ensure a consistent approach in projects which may qualify for more than one higher rate of public participation, thus ensuring that only the highest rate will apply.

10. The European Commission has renewed the derogation on the requirement that imports of fishery products from Greenland be wholly originating in Greenland. Until 2020, up to 500 tonnes per year of non-originating prepared and preserved shrimps and prawns of the species Pandalus borealis and Pandalus montagui processed in Greenland may be derived from non-originating raw material.

11. Following the recent accession of Croatia to the EU, the Commission passed a regulation introducing two new import tariff quotas for 60 tonnes of frozen Norway lobsters and 100 tonnes of fresh or chilled fillets of redfish originating in Iceland, for the period up to the end of July 2015. The Commission also approved a new tariff quota for 1,600 tonnes of spiced and/or vinegar cured herring imported from Norway, for the period up to the end of July 2015.

12. The EU and Norway signed an agreement which maintains the mutual fisheries access arrangements in Skagerrak and the Kattegat for EU vessels from Denmark and Sweden on the one hand and Norway on the other. The Agreement will apply provisionally for a period of two years, and subject to ratification will remain in force until 1 January 2022.

13. The EU and Ecuador concluded negotiations on a trade and development agreement, which provides for Ecuador to export fishery products to the EU (amongst other commodities) at preferential tariff rates in the future.

14. DG MARE of the European Commission expressed its disappointment with the outcome of the 87th Annual meeting of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), which finished on 18 July in Lima, Peru. The meeting failed to adopt steps to appoint a new Director and did not approve a financial and administrative assessment of the organisation, as proposed by the EU. The meeting also failed to adopt any conservation measures on Bluefin tuna (despite strong scientific advice), rejected a measure to protect silky sharks and did not adopt proposed strengthening of port state control measures. However proposals to strengthen satellite VMS systems and introduction of IMO numbering were adopted at this meeting.

15. Following the conclusion of negotiations on the 4-year Fisheries Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco in December 2013, Morocco has now ratified the document, following consideration by its Parliament. The Protocol will provide fisheries access to Moroccan waters for up to 120 vessels from 11 EU countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Germany, Lithuania, Latvia, Netherlands, Ireland, Poland and United Kingdom). The total cost to the EU will be €30 million a year, of which €16 million compensates Morocco for access to the resource and €14 million is directed towards supporting the fisheries sector in the country. In addition, the ship owners' contribution is estimated at €10 million, giving a total financial envelope for Morocco of an estimated €40 million.

16. Discussions were held between the EU and Mauritania regarding differing interpretations of the expiry date of the existing Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The parties agreed that EU vessels fishing shrimps and small pelagics in Mauritanian waters will be able to continue to do so until 15 December 2014 whereas EU vessels which had been fishing tuna and demersals since August 2012 during a transitional period were required to leave Mauritanian waters at the end of July.

17. Commissioner for Maritime and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki met with the Prime Minister and Minister of Fisheries of Guinea Bissau, with a view to re-activating the ratification procedure of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Guinea Bissau, following the suspension of the three-year protocol was negotiated in 2012, due to the political situation in the country.

18. The EU and Mozambique opened talks on renewal of the Protocol to their Fisheries Partnership Agreement which is due to expire on 31 January 2015. The next round of negotiations will be held in Brussels in September 2014.

19. The European Commission DG MARE has published the latest edition of the European Market Observatory for Fishery and Aquaculture. Key features include an analysis of EU Imports and Exports in 2013, a case study on Pangasius imports in the EU and estimates of consumption of fresh mussels. The publication reports that the EU trade deficit in fish increased by 3% in 2013, due to increased extra-EU imports of salmon (25% in value) and crustaceans.

20. The EU's General Affairs Council adopted the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive. This will require Member States to develop and coordinate various activities taking place at sea so that they are as efficient and sustainable as possible. Each relevant EU Member State must now transpose the Directive into their national legislation and nominate a Competent Authority in charge of its implementation by September 2016. Commissioner Damanaki welcomed the step.

21. DG MARE of the European Commission launched the Common Information Sharing Environment for the maritime domain. This is one of the building blocks of the recently adopted European Maritime Security Strategy which aims to bring together surveillance data from civil and military authorities like coast guards, navies, traffic monitoring, environmental and pollution monitoring, fisheries and border control. The Commission estimates that savings of up to €400 million per year can be made by elimination of duplication and that increased cooperation and sharing of data will improve management of real time events at sea such as accidents, pollution incidents, crime or security threats. The EC's Joint Research Centre announced the launch of the Technical Advisory Group to steer the technical work leading to the establishment of the Common Information Sharing Environment.

22. The European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Maria Damanaki gave a speech in London at the conference "Financing the transition to a sustainable blue economy", organised by The Prince's Charities. She spoke "Towards investment in sustainable fisheries", outlining the role of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, as well as the engagement of private investors in the development of new sustainable blue economic growth.

23. The Commission announced that it will support measures to strengthen the Pelagos Sanctuary, a Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Interest (SPAMI) jointly managed by Italy, France and Monaco under the Barcelona Convention, which seeks to protect living marine resources. The intention is to designate the sanctuary as an experimental zone for the ecosystem approach to fisheries management.

24. DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries published a press release on the need to safeguard the future of European seas. It describes some of ways the Commission works to ensure that our maritime exploitation remains rigorously sustainable, based on the premise is that environmental protection and economic growth are interdependent rather than opposed. It summarises some of the main policy initiatives within the Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy.

25. The Commission amended the detailed rules regarding the data collection and coding for the Community fishing fleet register, to take account of the accession of Croatia and entry of Mayotte as a department of France, and to update codes for country, fishing gear and fleet segmentation to be used for the transmission of such data.

26. On the eve of her departure from office at the end of October, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Maria Damanaki issued a statement setting out what she regards as her most significant achievements. These are ending overfishing in EU waters, initiating the use of use the potential of European seas to create "blue growth", bringing EU fisheries decisions closer to stakeholders, "exporting" the principle of sustainable fishing to RFMOs and third countries, and taking a string stand against illegal fishing.

Fish hygiene

27. During July 2014, there were 34 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 alerts for bivalve molluscs, 1 alert for cephalopods, 4 alerts for crustaceans and 21 alerts for other fish and fish products. These included 2 consignments of frozen cooked mussels from Chile, 2 consignments of frozen shrimp and 2 consignments of frozen swordfish from Vietnam, 3 consignments of chilled salmon tartar from Spain , 2 consignments of smoked salmon from Poland and 2 consignments of vacuum packed swordfish from France.

28. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission in October 2013 to evaluate the food safety controls regarding bivalve molluscs produced in Ireland and to follow up on recommendations of a previous 2011 FVO audit report. The mission found that the competent authorities (the Food Safety Authority of Ireland and the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority) have corrected some of the deficiencies (related to laboratory analyses), have introduced new official control of scallops, and improved controls in establishments. However, a significant number of recommendations of the 2011 audit report still need to be fully addressed. In particular the monitoring for the presence of biotoxins in live bivalve molluscs is not carried out according to EU legislation, production areas were not always closed when E.coli, ASP or lipophilic toxin limits were exceeded, and laboratory tests did not include all the regulated biotoxins. The Competent Authorities were requested to submit a plan of corrective actions for the approval of the Commission. 29. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Russia in September 2013 to evaluate the food safety controls regarding to the export of fishery products to the EU and to follow up on recommendations of a previous 2011 FVO audit report. The mission found that there were a number of outstanding deficiencies in the systems of official controls. These included lack of effective follow-up of deficiencies detected in the supervision of establishments and ineffective checks on the eligibility of imported fishery products. There were legal shortcoming identified with regard to non-EU listed facilities involved in the production chain of fishery products for EU export. Shortcomings were noted with the evaluation and implementation of HACCP procedures. Testing laboratories were found to have operational shortcomings regarding the results of proficiency tests, calibration of testing equipment and quality controls of analyses which undermine the reliability of their test results. The Central Competent Authority (Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance - Rosselkhodnadzor) was also found to provide misleading information in export certificates, with regard to the destination of the products exported to the EU via Korea. The Central Competent Authority was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions for the consideration of the Commission.

30. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Mauritius in January 2014 to evaluate the food safety controls regarding to the export of fishery products to the EU and to follow up on recommendations of a previous 2009 FVO audit report. The mission found that the Competent Authority under the Ministry of Fisheries has implemented only 3 out of 7 recommendations from the previous mission. Weak controls allowed the approval of a freezer vessel which does not comply with EU rules for the freezing of fishery products, there were no procedures for control on the eligibility of imported raw material, and there were shortcomings noted with regard to HACCP implementation by FBOs and its assessment by the CA. Shortcomings were also observed in laboratory testing related to the absence of sample acceptance criteria and inappropriate treatment of proficiency test data which call into question the reliability of the results. The Competent Authority was required to submit a further plan of corrective actions for the consideration of the Commission.

31. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Panama in February 2014 to evaluate the food safety controls regarding to the export of fishery products to the EU and to follow up on recommendations of a previous 2012 FVO audit report. The mission found that in principle the current organisation and implementation of official controls could guarantee that the conditions of production of fishery products in Panama intended for EU export meet standards equivalent to the requirements laid down in EU legislation. However, a number of deficiencies were identified, in particular concerning lack of documentation of controls at the point of landing and the follow-up corrective actions on board vessels, structural deficiencies in the establishments and poorly designed and implemented HACCP plans. Concern was also expressed regarding long delays in the analyses of histamine and water and ice and the undertaking of testing for official controls in a laboratory which is not evaluated and/or accredited under officially recognised quality management and assurance programmes equivalent to international standards. These deficiencies are considered to undermine the guarantees given in the EU export health certificates. The Competent Authority, the Panamanian Food Safety Authority was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions for the consideration of the Commission. 32. The Commission published an amendment to the list of countries permitted to supply fishery products to the EU, to take account of Moldova meeting the sanitary requirements as set out in EU food safety legislation. However, this country may only supply caviar.

33. The Commission and Member States discussed proposed risk management measures as regards the presence of dioxins and PCBs in fish from the Baltic region. The Commission proposed to publish a recommendation as regards monitoring and establish a common database of all occurrence data on dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs and non-dioxin-like PCBs in fish. This will allow conclusions to be drawn regarding these hazards in fish species from a certain age and size class, and from geographical regions within the Baltic Sea.

34. The Commission and Member States discussed a draft Commission Regulation (EU) amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in traditionally smoked meat and fishery products. The proposal is to provide a derogation for certain products from compliance with new stricter limits on PAH in smoked foods, which are due to come into force from 1st September. It is proposed to retain the current limits for listed traditional products marketed locally in 12 Member States, subject to monitoring and review after 3 years.

35. Following a request by the European Commission to address the risks and benefits as regards fish/seafood consumption related to relevant beneficial substances (e.g. nutrients such as n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids) and the contaminant methylmercury, the EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) has delivered a Scientific Opinion on health benefits of seafood consumption in relation to health risks associated with exposure to methylmercury. The Panel concluded that consumption of about 1 2 servings of seafood per week and up to 3 4 servings per week during pregnancy has been associated with better functional outcomes of neuro-development in children compared to no consumption of seafood.

36. The EC-funded ECsafeSEAFOOD project, which is assessing food safety issues related to priority environmental contaminants present in seafood, has announced progress in the development of a method for detection of pharmaceutical residues in bivalves using low detection methods, and has started trials on an online consumer tool to allow consumers to access nutrient and contaminant profiles of seafood on demand.

37. Following reduction of maximum cadmium levels in the food chain set out in the latest amendment to Regulation 1881/2006, the EU Reference Laboratory for heavy metals has organised a round of proficiency tests in which national reference and official control laboratories participated. This has allowed the further refinement of quality assurance tools provided by the EURL-HM such as reference materials, proficiency testing schemes and state-of-the-art analytical methods analysis.

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