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October 2014

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU bans imports of fisheries products from Sri Lanka, due to IUU failures
2. IUU Yellow cards lifted on Belize, Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu
3. EU and Ecuador sign free trade agreement; includes fishery products
4. EU Fisheries Ministers agree Baltic Sea fishing opportunities for 2015
5. EU to allow 25% quota banking on certain stocks due to Russian trade ban
6. Commission proposes the Atlantic and North Sea fishing opportunities for 2015
7. Commission adopts five discard plans to enter into force on 1 January 2015
8. Commission proposes multi-annual fisheries management plan for the Baltic stocks
9. Commission proposes fishing opportunities for deep-sea fish stocks for 2015-2016
10. Commission publishes report on bycatch and gear impacts in deep-sea fisheries
11. Commission publishes report on eel stocks; not recovering despite management plan
12. Stop fishing notices published for Belgian, UK, Spanish, Danish and French vessels
13. New membership structures and roles for Regional Advisory Councils
14. Commission calls for proposals regional cooperation for fisheries data collection
15. EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership talks collapse
16. EU Council adopts Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Senegal
17. EU Market Observatory reports on trout, tuna and squid.
18. Regulation passed on method for calculating EU outermost region fish subsidies
19. EC-funded AQUAEXCEL project holds workshop on aquaculture research
20. JRC establishes MSFD Competence Centre as a science-policy interface
21. EU funded STAGES publishes factsheet on MSFD research "clusters"
22. European Fisheries Control Agency adopts its Work Programme for 2015-2019

Fish hygiene

23. During October 2014: 56 rapid alert notifications for fishery products
24. DG SANCO reports on Estonia; shortcomings in HACCP, PAH controls
25. DG SANCO reports on Netherlands; no official sampling for use of additives
26. DG SANCO reports on Greenland; deficiencies hygiene and HACCP conditions
27. European Food Safety Authority reports on risks from pesticide imidacloprid
28. ECsafeSEAFOOD project invites stakeholders to workshop on seafood safety
29. DG SANCO publishes papers from conference on new fish label requirements

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission introduced a ban on imports of fisheries products from Sri Lanka, due to its failure to tackle illegal fishing by its vessels. The move comes after four years of dialogue, and Sri Lanka's failure to satisfy the Commission that it has sufficiently addressed illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Shortcomings were identified in the implementation of control measures, a lack of deterrent sanctions for the high seas fleet, and non-compliance with international and regional fisheries rules. In particular, even though 13 Sri Lankan vessels had been caught fishing in breach of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) conservation and management measures, Sri Lanka has not prohibited its vessels from fishing illegally on the high seas, nor has it adopted legislation to control high seas fishing by its vessels. The ban will come into force in January 2015 and will impact on EU imports of tuna, swordfish and other species valued at EUR74 million in 2013.

2. The European Commission also confirmed that Belize, Fiji, Panama, Togo and Vanuatu (which had all received "yellow card" warnings previously) have successfully taken measures to tackle IUU fishing and the processes against them will be lifted, including the trade measures implemented against Belize earlier in 2014. The Commission has prolonged the cooperation with Korea, Curacao and Ghana (where progress is being made) until January 2015. They will remain subject to their "yellow card" in the meanwhile. Commissioner Maria Damanaki promised continued vigilance.

3. The EU and Ecuador concluded negotiations for a trade and development agreement, which will allow Ecuador to benefit from continued access to the EU for its main exports. This includes fishery products which are provided with a duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market. In 2013, Ecuador exported fisheries and aquaculture products to the EU worth more than 1 billion Euros.

4. The EU's Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers met in Luxembourg, and reached a political agreement on fishing opportunities for 2015 for certain fish stocks in the Baltic Sea. The fishing opportunities are more modest than those proposed by the Commission. There is a lower increase in herring quotas (45% instead of the 51% proposed by the Commission in the Eastern Baltic and 15% instead of the 35% proposed in the Gulf of Bothnia) and bigger cuts for salmon (-10% instead of the -8% proposed in subdivision III bcd) and cod (-22% instead of the -20% proposed in the Eastern Baltic). The decision also implements provisions introduced by the recently reformed Common Fisheries Policy, such as the landing obligation and maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

5. The EU Fisheries Ministers also discussed the ongoing impact of the ban by Russia on imports of fishery products from the EU, and agreed to increase the opportunity for deferment of fishing quotas to support EU fishermen affected by the ban. For sprat and herring in the Baltic Sea, as well as mackerel and herring in the North Sea and North Atlantic, up to 25% of this year's fishing quota will be able to be transferred to 2015. Scientists confirmed that quota banking would on the whole have a slightly positive effect for the sustainability of the stocks. Further scientific advice will now be sought to determine if similar quota flexibility can be granted for horse mackerel and Celtic sea herring.

6. The European Commission proposed the fishing opportunities for 2015 for the Atlantic and the North Sea. For fish stocks in European waters i.e. not agreed with international partners, the Commission proposes to increase or maintain the catch limits for 29 stocks, and reduce them for 40 stocks, in line with scientific advice. Increases are proposed for total allowable catches of Anglerfish and horse mackerel in Iberian waters, sole in the Western Channel and Nephrops in the North Sea. However, cod stocks in the Irish Sea and the Kattegat continue to be in a depleted state. Sole in the Eastern channel is also at extremely low levels. Advice for haddock and cod in the Celtic Sea demands also considerable TAC cuts, so that these stocks can be brought to MSY levels. Cod in the West of Scotland continues to suffer from high rates of discarding and is still considered to be at a risk of collapse. Negotiations on management of stocks shared with third countries (Norway, Faroe Islands, Greenland, Iceland, and Russia) are due to be concluded by the end of the year.

7. The European Commission adopted five discard plans, leading up to the introduction of an obligation to land all catches in certain fisheries on 1 January 2015. The plans, which cover all pelagic fisheries in EU waters and fisheries in the Baltic, were put together by Member States who developed joint recommendations regionally in the Baltic, North Sea, North Western Waters, South Western Waters, and the Mediterranean. Input was also received from local industry and stakeholders through Regional Advisory Councils. The discard plans will enter into force on 1 January 2015, after a two-month scrutiny period by the Parliament and the Council. This marks the first phase of the new CFP landing obligation which will be introduced gradually between 2015 and 2019 for all commercial fisheries.

8. DG MARE of the European Commission has proposed a multiannual fisheries management plan for the Baltic Sea for cod, herring and sprat stocks. It is the first multispecies plan in the Baltic and if adopted, will replace the management plan currently in place for the two Baltic cod stocks. The plan takes account of scientific information on interactions within and between the stocks, and with other aspects of the ecosystem and environment.

9. The European Commission proposed fishing opportunities for deep-sea fish stocks in EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic for 2015-2016. In line with scientific advice, the Commission proposes an increase of total allowable catches (TACs) for 4 stocks, a decrease for 9 stocks, and a status quo for 5 stocks as compared to 2014. Recommendations for deep-sea sharks will be delivered later this month.

10. DG MARE of the European Commission published the final report of a consultancy study "Reduction of Gear Impact and Discards in Deep-sea Fisheries". The study investigated bycatch reduction and methods of reducing habitat destruction in deep sea net fisheries, with a focus on trawl fishing. It reported on the design of a new light deep-water fishing trawl with a positive buoyancy, which operates with minimal impact on the seafloor. It also considered the impact of the French deepwater trawl fishery off SW Scotland in which the bycatch of deep-water sharks is considered a serious problem. It recommends that little can be achieved in terms of bycatch reduction by regulating the mesh size, and therefore gear modifications would be unlikely to contribute to bycatch reduction.

11. DG MARE reported to the European Parliament and Council on the measures taken by EU countries to ensure the recovery of European eel following an evaluation of national progress reports. The report concludes that whilst measures on implementing the eel management plan have resulted in a significant increase in the number of baby eel produced since 2011, the plan has not been successful in re-generating the populations of adult eels, which remain in a depleted condition. Recommendations to increase the effectiveness of the eel regulation include better management of other human activities and improvement of river habitats.

12. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota for by Belgian vessels fishing for plaice, skates and rays, hake, common sole, megrims, mackerel, anglerfish, Norway lobster haddock and whiting; UK vessels fishing for sole and tusk; Spanish vessels fishing for black scabbardfish, common sole, white marlin, haddock and whiting; Danish vessels fishing for skates and rays and French vessels fishing for herring.

13. In a further step towards the implementation of the new Common Fisheries Policy's (CFP) the European Commission has introduced changes to the Regional Advisory Councils. These bring together representatives of industry as well as other interest groups such as environmental NGOs and consumers' organisations. Under the new CFP they will have a more balanced representation of stakeholders, including non-fisheries interests. They will also have a right of consultation when Member States cooperate at regional level to decide the rules which should apply to fishermen in that region. They will give advice to the Commission and to Member States on fisheries management in their area or sea basin.

14. The European Commission DG MARE issued a call for proposals for projects to enable EU Member States to build up experience in regional cooperation for fisheries data collection in relation to proposed "Regional Cooperation Groups". The projects should identify what data should be collected at regional level, plan and coordinate how data should be collected, processed and managed and evaluate the quality of biological data sets at the regional level. The projects will support the Commission's proposal to amend the fisheries Data Collection Framework Regulation to take into account the new CFP Basic Regulation adopted in 2013, the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund adopted in 2014, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Marine Knowledge 2020 initiative. The deadline for submission of proposals is 15/01/2015.

15. In the fourth round of talks held in Brussels on 9-10th October on renewing the Protocol to the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement, the parties were unable to reach an agreement on a number of points, including finances. The EU is seeking to reduce the level of fishing opportunities for small pelagic fish (which are not well utilised) as well as the corresponding financial contributions. The parties therefore decided to suspend the discussions to enable both parties to make the necessary internal consultations.

16. The EU's Council of Ministers decided to adopt the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol between the EU and Senegal, and authorised its signature, pending which the Agreement will apply provisionally. The Council passed a regulation allocating the tuna seine fishing opportunities to Spain (16 vessels) and France (12 vessels); for pole-and-line vessels they will be allocated to Spain (7 vessels) and France (1 vessel), and for trawlers to Spain (2 vessels).

17. The Commission published a new edition of the EU Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products. As well as regular price and market data, it includes a case study on farmed trout in the EU and an analysis of consumptions trends in fresh tuna and squid.

18. The Commission has passed a regulation setting out the criteria for the calculation of the additional costs of fisheries and aquaculture enterprises operating in the Union's outermost regions (which include Canary Islands, Azores and Madeira and the French DOM such as Reunion and Guyana). In future, to avoid paying excessive subsidies to fish businesses in these regions Member States are required to specify reference costs for products or categories of products incurred by operators in the continental part of the Member State or of the Union territory, on the basis of which additional costs should be estimated. Furthermore determination of additional costs should be limited to costs linked to the outermost nature of the region, and take into account any other subsidies received. Additional costs must be calculated in in euros per tonne of live weight.

19. The EC-funded AQUAEXCEL (Aquaculture infrastructures for excellence in European fish research) project hosted a workshop in Spain entitled "Research Infrastructures: adding value to European aquaculture industry". AQUAEXCEL is an EC FP7-funded project working to integrate aquaculture research activities in different European institutions aimed at improving the efficiency of aquaculture production. It is coordinated by the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA). The workshop presented new aquaculture research tools and methodologies developed through the project, such as methods for evaluation of chronic stress in farmed fish; guidelines on ensuring research results can be scaled up to industrial scale; and platforms for electronic data and remote operation of aquaculture research facilities.

20. The European Commission's Joint Research centre announced that it has set up the Marine Strategy Framework Directive Competence Centre (MCC) to help EU countries achieve 'Good Environmental Status' of their marine waters by 2020, being the main aim of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The MCC will act as a science-policy interface, facilitating cooperation and information exchange for the successful implementation of the Directive. Its website is at

21. The EU funded STAGES, an EC FP7-funded project which aims to improve the scientific knowledge base for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) has published a factsheet on its main findings and outputs. These include reports on relevant European and National research, how to improve access to relevant research findings and a visualisation tool which illustrates MSFD research "clusters". More information is available from .

22. The European Fisheries Control Agency adopted its Multiannual Work Programme for 2015-2019 and the Annual Work Programme for 2015. The focus will be continued assistance to Member States and the Commission in the implementation of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The budget adopted in the meeting for 2014 was €9.2 million. Mr. Reinhard Priebe, a lawyer from Germany was also elected as the new Chairman of the EFCA Administrative Board.

Fish hygiene

23. During October 2014 there were 56 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 5 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 38 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and 2 rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 6 consignments of swordfish from Spain, 4 consignments of smoked salmon from Poland (due to Listeria) and 8 consignments of Pangasius from Vietnam (mostly due to residues of banned veterinary drugs).

24. The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Estonia in June 2014, with a view to assessing the food safety status of fishery products placed on the market. The mission concluded that in general the control system is consistently and adequately implemented and covers the entire fishery products supply chain. Some shortcomings were identified in the establishment approval process (some fish smoking establishments were allowed to operate without approval). Weaknesses were also identified in the control of fishing vessels and landing conditions (including organoleptic checks), HACCP evaluation and verification of food business operators' own-checks for some microbiological criteria. Furthermore, although steps have been taken by the competent authority to strengthen the system of controls over Baltic Sea fish which may contain dioxins and PCBs above the EU maximum limits, some gaps remain in measures put in place and their implementation by some food business operators. The Competent Authority was requested to adopt a plan of corrective actions to be agreed with the Commission.

25. The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Netherlands in March 2014, with a view to assessing the food safety status of monitoring of fishery products placed on the market. The mission concluded that in general the control system is adequately implemented in a consistent way and covers the entire fishery product production chain. However, the control system presents shortcomings with a lack of documented inspection of fishing vessels. Inadequacies were also noted in the official sampling and monitoring of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, additives, potable water and histamine. The application of HACCP principles in some establishments was found to present deficiencies (where some potential hazards had not been identified and own-checks analyses did not cover all parameters required in the legislation). Furthermore there was no official sampling to ensure that food business operators use additives in line with regulations. The Competent Authority was requested to adopt a plan of corrective actions to be agreed with the Commission.

26. The Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Greenland in May 2014, with a view to assessing the food safety status of monitoring of fishery products exported to the EU and to follow up on a previous mission in 2010. The mission concluded that in general there is in place an effective, risk-based official control system. This covers the entire fishery supply chain (including imports with new controls procedures at borders and on landings by foreign vessels) and is adapted to deal with the significant geographic and climatic challenges posed by Greenland. However it relies more than usual on the reliability of the food business operators' own-check results and the use of dedicated trade routes to ensure official controls (particularly microbiology and contaminant tests) performed at the port of entry and before the fishery products are released onto the Union internal market. A number of deficiencies were noted in relation to approval, compliance with hygiene conditions (to ensure that melt water does not remain in contact with the product) and HACCP implementation. The Competent Authority, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, was requested to develop an action plan to address the deficiencies noted. It was also advised to ensure a regular review of the system to account for expected changes in the pattern of supplies to the EU market.

27. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) provided a scientific opinion on the risk to aquatic organisms of the use of the pesticide imidacloprid (a widely used neonicotinoid insecticide), following the publication of new research on this subject. The study concluded that definitive Regulatory Acceptable Concentrations (RACs) to be used for the acute and chronic risk assessment for aquatic organisms could not be established on the basis of the available data. However, based on a weight of evidence approach, a high acute and chronic risk for aquatic organisms could not be excluded for its uses in apple and field tomato, and a high chronic risk could not be excluded for its use in glasshouse tomato, while a low risk may be concluded for its use in sugar beet sector.

28. The European FP7 project ECsafeSEAFOOD ( has issued an open invitation to its stakeholder workshop 'Identification of stakeholders' needs related to seafood safety', which will be held in Brussels on 13th November 2014. The main aim is to gather qualitative information on the following topics: stakeholders' risk perception (discussion on how stakeholders perceive health risk related to seafood consumption); priority topics related to seafood safety (prioritize the most interesting themes regarding seafood safety, identify where data are insufficient, and explore the possible communication channels to transfer information both to stakeholders and consumers); mitigation strategies (discussion on type of guidelines to assist fish industry and the community in assessing health risks from their activities). The ECsafeSEAFOOD was developed to assess food safety issues related to priority contaminants present in seafood as a result of environmental contamination, including those originating from harmful algal blooms and those associated with marine litter.

29. The European Commission DG SANCO has published the presentations from its Conference: New Labels for Consumers: New Opportunities for the Industry, which was held in Brussels, Belgium, on 15 October 2014. The materials include posters and presentations on: Mandatory and voluntary information for fishery and aquaculture products (Isabel Sanz, Trade and Markets of DG MARE), Catch areas: An added value (Valentina Tepedino, Eurofishmarket) and Retailers' experience (Adela Torres, Mercadona).

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