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September 2014

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Commission reorganisation; fisheries now part of environment, new Commissioner named
2. EU Auditors finds EUR400 million EU fisheries subsidies for aquaculture have failed
3. EU Fisheries Ministers hold extraordinary meeting on impacts of Russian trade ban
4. EU Canada trade deal to eliminate tariffs on fishery products
5. Commission proposes 2015 fishing opportunities for the Baltic Sea; 12% increase in Total Allowable Catch (TAC)
6. Commission issues sustainability indicators for assessing fishing fleets capacity
7. DG MARE outlines implementation of Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) fishing opportunities and landing obligation
8. Commission adjusts 2014 Spanish quotas for mackerel
9. Consultancy study published on improving EU fisheries Data Collection Framework
10. DG MARE invites new members to apply for EU's technical committee for fisheries (STECF)
11. Stop fishing notices published, mainly affecting Irish operators
12. Commission adopts action plan for the upgrading of Portuguese fisheries control system
13. EU hosts meeting of North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO); sets 2015 catch limits
14. EU vessels start fishing in Morocco again; First Joint Committee meeting held
15. EU-Mauritania Joint Scientific Committee publishes meeting reports
16. Eight endangered species of shark and ray listed by CITES
17. EU Commission starts subsidy and dumping investigation of imported trout from Turkey
18. Commission to host conference on the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) labelling requirements for fishery products
19. Monitoring and evaluation system defined for European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.
20. Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning enters into force
21. EU adopts Invasive Alien Species Regulation
22. EU Joint Research Centre publishes research on marine productivity in the Mediterranean
23. EU-funded AT~SEA Project (EUR3.4 million) develops new seaweed growth matrix
24. EU-funded Myfish project investigates options for implementation of MSY concept
25. EU Commissioner for Research addresses World Ocean Council

Fish hygiene

1. During September 2014; 29 rapid alert notifications for fishery products
2. DG SANCO reports on Ireland's sanitary controls for fishery products; some gaps
3. DG SANCO reports on India's sanitary controls for fishery products; little change since 2005
4. Germany and France declare new disease free zones
5. Oyster trade measures extended for two years to limit spread of ostreid herpes virus
6. Commission updates recommended action levels for dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The President of the next European Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker announced the appointment of the new Commissioners, who will take office from 1st November 2014 (subject to approval by the Parliament). The Directorate General Environment will be merged with DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries into a new DG, and the Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries will be Mr. Karmenu Vella from Malta. In his letter appointing the new Commissioner, Mr.Juncker asks Mr.Vella to focus on continuing the overhaul of environmental legislation, undertake an in-depth evaluation of the Birds and Habitats directives, continue implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy and engage in shaping international ocean governance in the UN, other multilateral fora and bilaterally with key global partners.

2. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) published a report stating that EU measures to support aquaculture in the period up to 2013 (which cost EUR400 million) were not well designed and implemented at EU and Member State level, and that the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), as the funding instrument of the CFP, has failed to deliver value for money and effective support for the sustainable development of aquaculture. In particular the Member States' national strategic plans and operational programmes did not provide a sufficiently clear basis for the support of aquaculture, and the Member States lacked a coherent strategy for the sector. The ECA stated that "the main objectives for growth of the aquaculture sector have not been met, and the sector has stagnated for many years".

3. Following Russia's announcement on 7 August to ban imports of certain fisheries products from the European Union, the European Commission commenced gathering evidence on the impact of the measures. In 2013, the total export value of the banned EU fisheries products was close to EUR 144 million, which represents 2% of total value of the EU's fish and aquaculture annual product. European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Maria Damanaki said that the Commission is monitoring the situation and striving to achieve a coordinated and appropriate response for all sectors affected by the ban, including the fisheries sector and encouraged fishery operators and producer organisations to make use of the storage aid provided under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). She also announced that the Commission is ready to support the European fisheries sector with financial support as well as the possibility of shifting unused fishing quotas to 2015. She also called upon the EU governments to make use of storage funds available under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The EU Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers held an extraordinary meeting to discuss the impact and implications and confirmed the need for an EU-wide, joint response to tackle the negative effects linked to the Russian ban on EU agricultural and fishery products. Ministers agreed to closely monitor the affected sectors in light of possible further interventions on those markets. In addition, targeted compensation measures for some of the most affected producers were discussed.

4. The EU and Canada, meeting at a summit in Ottawa, reached final agreement after 5 years of negotiation on a Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Amongst other measures, the Agreement will eliminate EU tariffs on a range of Canadian fishery products entering the EU processing sector, and Canadian tariffs on 92% of EU agricultural products.

5. The European Commission published its proposal on fishing opportunities for the main commercial fish stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2015. Since some of the fish stocks are now fished at sustainable levels, the TAC will increase by 12% and will be set at approximately 629 000 tonnes. An average increase of 31% is proposed for four herring stocks, while decreases are proposed for the western cod stock (-48%), sprat (-17%) and two salmon stocks (-15%). According to scientific advice, the adoption of proposed catch limits will increase the number of Baltic stocks fished at a Maximum Sustainable Yield in the Baltic in 2015 from three to six.

6. The European Commission issued guidelines for Member States in the form of a standardised set of indicators (biological, economic and vessel-use indicators) to determine if the size of their fishing fleets are in line with the amount of fishing opportunities allocated to them.

7. DG MARE of the European Commission has published an information note on the setting of fishing opportunities under the new, reformed Common Fisheries Policy which came into force on 1 January 2014. The landing obligation will be introduced from 1 January 2015 for most of the pelagic fish (mackerel, herring, sprat and anchovy) and fisheries in the Baltic Sea. By 2019 all EU fisheries will be covered. Discussions have started in Member States about management of the landing obligation (the discard plans) and more discussions will take place when multiannual plans have been adopted. The new policy also fixes an objective of setting catch limits to allow fisheries to reach their maximum sustainable yield and the scientific advice will be delivered to the Commission to meet this objective.

8. The Commission issued a regulation adjusting 2014 Spanish quotas for mackerel taking into account overfishing and under-utilisation of catch quotas in previous years.

9. The European Commission DG MARE published the results of a consultancy study considering scientific data storage and transmission under the future Data Collection Framework. The study assesses EU Member State and Commission systems for collection and dissemination of legally mandated fisheries data for management, and evaluates options for simplification, cost reduction, adaptations to a regional approach, improved data quality, accessibility and coherence with the Integrated Fisheries Data Management Programme (IFDMP).

10. DG MARE of the European Commission called for applications for membership of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) of the Commission. This Committee advises the Commission on matters pertaining to the conservation and management of living aquatic resources, including biological, economic, environmental, social and technical considerations. Interested scientific experts competent in the area of fisheries and aquaculture management are invited to send an application by 15 December 2014.

11. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission, due to exhaustion of quota, for UK vessels fishing for blue ling, Spanish vessels fishing for greater forkbeard, French vessels fishing for skates and rays, Dutch vessels fishing for plaice, and Irish vessels fishing for common sole, Norway lobster, blue ling, redfish, plaice, snow crab (in Greenland waters of NAFO 1), alfonsinos and Greenland halibut.

12. The European Commission adopted an action plan for the upgrading of the Portuguese fisheries control system in line with the EU's 2009 Fisheries Control Regulation and the new Common Fisheries Policy. The plan focuses on strengthening the catch registration system, and reinforcing the flow of catch data between mainland Portugal's fisheries authorities and the offshore archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira.

13. The EU hosted the 36th Annual Meeting of the North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO). The agenda of the meeting, held in Vigo, Galicia from 22-26 September 2014, included setting 2015 catch limits for NAFO fish stocks based on scientific advice. Following a thorough review it was also decided that the existing area closures that aim at protecting Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) remain in place until the end of 2020. An EU proposal to enlarge the closure system by two, bringing the total number of closures to 20, was also adopted. It was agreed to review NAFO's observer scheme as well as to fully align NAFO's port state control scheme to the FAO Port State Measures Agreement.

14. The European Commission announced that European fishing boats have started operating in Moroccan waters following the issuing of fishing licences by the Moroccan authorities. The announcement was made during the first Joint Committee meeting of the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) held in Rabat on the 4th and 5th September. The four-year protocol to the FPA came into force on the 15th July 2014, after which the EU received and submitted to Morocco 63 licence applications from five EU Member States: Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Latvia, and Lithuania.

15. The Joint Scientific Committee to the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement issued a reports on its meetings held in April 2013 and June 2014, at which the parties held discussions on the rates of utilisation of fishing opportunities allocated to EU vessels under the Protocol, as well as updates on stock assessment, catches in relation to TACs and the effectiveness of technical conservation measures applied.

16. The Commission announced that eight species of shark and ray will come under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species as of 14th September 2014. International trade in these listed products will now have to be accompanied by export or import permits issued by national authorities in both exporting and importing nations. The eight species - porbeagle, oceanic whitetip shark, scalloped hammerhead, great hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark and manta rays - were earmarked for protection in March 2013 and join three shark species - basking shark, great white shark, whale shark - already on the CITES list.

17. Following a complaint by the Danish Aquaculture Association regarding the application of production subsidies and dumping of rainbow trout (<1.2kg, in all forms including fillets) imported from Turkey, the European Commission has launched an investigation into the Turkish subsidy regime and its impacts, to determine whether it causes material injury to the Union industry. Turkish operators and Government will be requested to provide information. The study will assess whether subsidies are applied whether dumping takes place and whether they cause material injury to the Union industry. Interested parties are invited to make their views known, submit information and provide supporting evidence.

18. The European Commission announced that it will host a conference on the new labelling requirements for fishery products under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. This will be held in Brussels on the 15 October and will include presentations on market opportunities for the industry, mandatory and voluntary information for fishery and aquaculture products, traceability and consumer aspects. There will be presentations by DG MARE, DG SANCO, industry and relevant NGOs and certifying bodies.

19. The Commission has set out the content of the common monitoring and evaluation system which Member States and the Commission are required to implement in the disbursement of subsidies under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. It includes a set of common indicators (listed in the Annex), a logical framework showing the interactions between priorities, focus areas and measures, as well as ex ante and ex post evaluations.

20. The Commission issued a notice reminding Member States that the Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning entered into force on the 17 September, 2014. The Directive requires Member States to prepare plans to coordinate the activities that compete for space at sea and in coastal zones, many of which take place across national borders. The Directive aims to ensure improved co-operation, involve stakeholders in planning and avoid potential conflicts between the diverse uses of sea space.

21. The EU adopted the Invasive Alien Species Regulation to address threats to European biodiversity from invasive species. The Regulation is a step towards achieving the EU's 2020 biodiversity targets, and also meets a commitment under the Convention on Biological Diversity to establish rules to address the threats posed by these species. European Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said: "This new Regulation fills a long-recognised gap in EU biodiversity protection".

22. The European Commission's Joint Research Centre published a research paper assessing the impact of the nutrients in European rivers on marine productivity (including fish production) in the Mediterranean Sea from 1960 to 2012. The article is the first ever to describe a strong and significant correlation between river nutrient loads and biological production in the Mediterranean Sea. It also provides the first quantitative evidence of the close relationship between chemical conditions such as nutrient concentration, marine productivity and fish abundance in the basin by linking nutrient loads to fisheries indicators such as catch per unit effort.

23. The European Commission published a press release announcing the successful completion of the EU-funded AT~SEA Project (EUR3.4 million) which has developed advanced textiles as the growth matrix for high yield floating seaweed farms, which also allow easy mechanised cultivation and harvesting. This development, led by Belgium-based Sioen Industries, is expected to lead to increased commercial investments in seaweed cultivation in EU coastal waters.

24. The EU funded Myfish project held a series of workshops with fisheries stakeholders from a number of EU regional advisory councils regarding the trade-offs and the sector's preferences for different implementation options for Maximum Sustainable Yield management, especially in relation to establishing long-term targets for multi-annual multi-species plans. Myfish also published its 2nd newsletter, containing items on the approach to implementation of the MSY concept, and case studies on setting MSY for the Baltic and Mediterranean seas. The Myfish project is an EU Seventh Framework Programme (FP7)-funded initiative which aims to provide an operational framework for the implementation of the MSY concept in European waters.

25. Máire Geoghegan-Quinn European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science gave a speech at the World Ocean Council held in New York. She described some of the challenges faced in the sustainable use of the oceans which need to be addressed by research. She also presented the EMODnet - the European Marine Observation and Data Portal, which will provide marine data, which is interoperable, free of restrictions and available as a multi-resolution map of all European seas, and announced the establishment of an information platform on marine research and innovation to provide a "gateway into the insights emerging from research projects, which can then be used to accelerate the uptake of new ideas by industry".

Fish hygiene

1. During September 2014, there were 29 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 4 alerts for bivalve molluscs, 4 alerts for crustaceans and 21 alerts for other fish and fish products. These included 2 consignments of shrimps from Vietnam, 2 consignments of frozen shrimps from India, 4 consignments of tuna from Spain, 3 consignments of salmon from Poland and 3 consignments of pangasius from Vietnam.

2. DG SANCO of the European Commission published the findings of a report by the Food and Veterinary Office concerning the food safety conditions for fishery products from Ireland. The mission found that the official control system is supported by an extensive set of instructions and checklists and that all laboratories participating in official controls were accredited. However there were some gaps in relation to registration and approval of cold stores, inspection of vessels, temperature recording devices (identified in the previous audit), and drafting and implementing food safety management systems based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) principles and analyses of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH).

3. DG SANCO of the European Commission published the findings of a report by the Food and Veterinary Office concerning the food safety conditions for fishery products originating from India and exported to the EU. The mission found that the official control system has changed little since the previous inspection mission in 2005. Controls over primary production, landing and first sale had only recently started and aquacultures farms and fishing vessels had been approved without being subject to official inspection. Approved landing sites were also found to have several sanitary defects. Processing establishments visited were found to be in good condition regarding structure, equipment, maintenance, and hygiene and own-check programmes were in line with EU requirements. No official organoleptic examinations were undertaken, and there were shortcomings in the laboratory testing for cadmium, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls. The report concluded that the Central Competent Authority, the Export Inspection Council, is not able to guarantee that non-eligible fishery products are excluded from export to the EU market fish.

4. Germany and France declared Forellenzucht Reim in Sehmatal-Cranzahl and Berthoire Carnoules respectively as zones free of two important fish diseases; Infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) and Viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS).

5. The Commission and Member States agreed to extend by two years (from 1 May, 2014) the control measures to restrict the intra-community trade in oysters, to prevent the spread of ostreid herpes virus into certain areas of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

6. The Commission published an updated and revised Annex to its recommendations setting out the action level for dioxins and furans and dioxin-like PCBs in a range of foods and animal feeds.

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