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January 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Latvian EU Presidency pledges to work on multiannual management plans
2. Fisheries ministers briefed on the implementation of the landing obligation
3. Commission introduces emergency measures on sea bass conservation
4. Commission removes landing obligation for certain tuna, swordfish and capelin catches
5. EU Council passes regulation on Black Sea TACs and quotas
6. Joint Research Centre develops habitat model for Mediterranean hake
7. Stop fishing notices published for Danish, German and Portuguese vessels
8. EU signs Protocols with Cape Verde and Madagascar; Agreement with Senegal
9. EU and Norway agree reciprocal access in the Skagerrak
10. European Court cancels access of Venezuelan vessels to French Guiana
11. Joint Research Centre develops validation method for AIS position reports
12. FP7 AQUACEL project publishes research outputs
13. Commissioner Vella to unveil fish name database at Seafood Expo Brussels;

Fish hygiene

14. During January 2015: 32 rapid alert notifications for fishery products
15. Latvian EU Presidency promises progress on new official control regulation
16. Commission considers impacts of restrictive new limits on PAHs
17. EFSA publishes opinion on risks and benefits of fish and seafood consumption
18. Commission considers common regional approach to dioxins and PCBs in Baltic fish
19. Higher levels of benzoic acid to be allowed in cooked shrimps in brine
20. Despite objections, Commission set to increase maximum level of PCBs in spiny dogfish
21. Commission re-organises of DG SANCO; DG for Health and Food Safety (DG Santé)

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The incoming Latvian Presidency of the EU gave a public presentation on its work programme in the agriculture and fisheries sectors. In fisheries, it aims to progress with the introduction of multiannual management plans, continue the alignment of fisheries regulations with the Lisbon Treaty and coordinate the negotiations concerning protocols to agreements on fisheries partnership with third countries, and annual meetings with regional organisations responsible for fisheries management. In particular the Council was briefed by the Commission and held a public exchange of views on a proposal for a regulation to establish a multispecies multiannual management plan for the stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea (since the latter two species are not yet subject to a management plan).

2. Fisheries ministers were also briefed on the implementation of the landing obligation and a proposal for an "omnibus" regulation which would combine all of the identified changes in technical measures and control regulations within in a single text. The Council also formally The Council added Sri Lanka to the list of non-cooperating third countries in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing pursuant to regulation 1005/2008 establishing a Community system to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing, thus implementing a ban on imports of fish from marine capture fisheries from this country.

3. The European Commission has introduced new measures to avert the collapse of the declining sea bass stock. Immediately effective emergency measures include a ban on targeting the fish stock by pelagic trawling while it is reproducing, during the spawning season, which runs until the end of April. Additional measures to be put in place by Member States will include a limit of three fish per day per angler in recreational fishing (which accounts for 25% of sea bass catches) and a minimum size of 42 cm so that fish are not caught, or are released, before they have reproduced. Commissioner Vella, said: "The impact of this stock collapsing would be catastrophic for the livelihoods of so many fishermen and coastal communities”.

4. The Commission has passed a regulation lifting the general landing obligation for certain tuna and related catches, to bring EU requirements into line with Recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (‘ICCAT’) on a multi-annual conservation and management programme for bigeye and yellowfin tunas. The measure therefore requires that, under certain circumstances, bigeye tuna, small bluefin tunas and swordfish should not be retained on board and should be discarded. The regulation also applies similar measures to capelin ensure coherence with Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (‘NAFO’) measures.

5. The EU Council passed the regulation setting the 2015 TACs and quotas (and in some effort limits) for EU fish stocks (including in third country waters such as Greenland and Norway, and in zones subject to decisions of Regional Fisheries Management Organisations), following the political agreement last month and finalisation of agreements on fishing opportunities with Norway. The regulation includes notable changes in approach to accommodate the reformed CFP; the TAC for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay is now set on the basis of a calendar year (rather than July to June); the regulation addresses derogations for accidental catches for species whose TAC is set at zero, such as certain species of elasmobranchs (which are now subject to the landing obligation); special arrangements are also made for stocks which are subject to multiannual management plans (Southern hake, Norway lobster, sole, plaice and sole, herring, cod and bluefin tuna);

6. The EU Council passed the regulation setting the fishing TACs and quotas for the Black Sea (concerning sprat, with a TAC of 11,475 tonnes and turbot with a TAC of 86.4 tonnes, shared between Bulgaria and Romania).

7. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre announced the development of a habitat model, which identifies that the main hake nurseries are mostly located from February to June in the northern Mediterranean, on the seabed in depths from 50 to 250 m. The JRC suggests that such knowledge can guide decisions for sustainable fisheries management, such as the closure of fishing areas allowing hake stocks to recover from overfishing.

8. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Danish vessels fishing for ling and herring , German vessels fishing for cod, haddock , redfish, mackerel and sprat and Portuguese vessels for megrim.

9. The European Union announced the signing of the Protocols setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Cape Verde (effective from the 23rd December 2014) and between the EU and Madagascar (effective from the 1st January 2015). The European Union has announced the signing, on 20 November 2014, of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Senegal, as well as the Protocol for its implementation. The Agreement and the Protocol apply provisionally from 20 November 2014.

10. On 15 January 2015 in Brussels, the EU and Norway signed the Agreement on reciprocal access each other’s waters, for fishing in the Skagerrak. The Agreement allows Norwegian vessels to fish in EU waters and Danish and Swedish vessels to fish in the Norwegian zone. The Agreement applies provisionally from 15 January 2015.

11. Following an application of the Commission and the Parliament, the European Court of Justice, annulled the 2012 Decision of the European Council to grant access to Venezuelan vessels to fish in EU waters of the coast of French Guiana, since it was not passed on the correct legal basis, namely Article 43(2) of the EU Treaty. The effect of the decision is maintained until a new measure is passed.

12. The Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC), announced that, in collaboration with the Italian coast guard service, it has developed a new method to verify whether ship positions reported with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) are correct. The method combines a classic radio-location method based on Time Difference of Arrival with an Extended Kalman Filter designed to track vessels in geodetic coordinates. It does not need any additional sensors or technologies and it makes it possible to validate reported data and detect unintentionally incorrect, jammed or deliberately falsified information reported by ships. The AIS system is useful for maritime situational awareness, but is prone to tampering. The new method allows validation without any additional equipment.

13. The EU FP7 Funded AQUACEL project “Aquaculture Infrastructures for Excellence in European Fish Research” published an information booklet setting out its main activities and findings to date. The project aims to integrate key aquaculture research infrastructures across Europe in order to promote their coordinated use and development. It reports results of studies on stress reduction interventions, growth rate studies on salmon and the use of vegetable oils in aquaculture. It also reports on progress towards establishing an online resource that contains all the public gene expression data related to fish species in various physiological conditions. This tool may be used to select genes which are relevant for characterising welfare and health status in farmed fish species. It has also published an interactive map of European Aquaculture Research Infrastructures (available at

14. The European Commission, DG MARE announced that it will once again be present at the Seafood Expo Global, Brussels, Belgium, 21-23 April 2015, where its stand (in Hall 7 – 1411) will be staffed by the Commission’s technical experts. DG MARE will provide a series of short information sessions on a range of market issues including information on sanitary rules, and labelling. Consumer related information will be at the heart of a presentation by the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella on the 22nd April, which will include unveiling a new database of commercial designations for fish and aquaculture products.

Fish hygiene

15. During January 2015 there were 32 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 4 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 22 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products or gastropod products. These included 4 consignments of shrimps and prawns from Vietnam and 8 consignments of smoked salmon from Poland.

16. The incoming Latvian Presidency of the EU gave a public presentation on its work programme in the agriculture and fisheries sectors. In food safety it intends to continue the work on developing an integrated and horizontal approach to official controls, and to seek to finalise the text of a new or amended regulation.

17. The Commission held an exchange of views with Member States on an amendment to Regulation (EC) N° 1881/2006 as regards the maximum level of Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in Katsuobushi (dried smoked bonito imported from Japan), certain canned smoked Baltic herring, food supplements, and various herbs and spices. Best production practices for all of these products cannot meet the new limits set for PAHs in foods, which came into force from 1st September 2014. Member States indicated that more discussion is needed and the Standing Committee decided to refer the matter to the Expert Committee on Environmental and Industrial Contaminants.

18. The Scientific Committee of the European Food Safety Authority produced a Scientific Opinion on the risks and benefits of fish and seafood consumption compared to the risks of methylmercury. Based on typical fish consumption patterns of population groups, it calculated weekly intakes of methylmercury from fishery products and dietary reference values for Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids. The study suggests that consumption during pregnancy of 1- 4 servings per week of fish would be beneficial to neurological development, but consumption of fish/seafood species with a high content of mercury should be limited. Because a variety of fish species are consumed across Europe, it recommends that each country needs to consider its own pattern of fish consumption and prepare specific recommendations.

19. The Commission discussed the potential for common risk management measures with regards to the presence of dioxins and PCBs in fish from the Baltic region. At present each Member State is allowed to permit products which not meet the requirements to be placed on their national markets only. The matter is to be considered by a Baltic working group which will report back to Standing Committee in February 2015.

20. Following a request received by the Commission to consider increasing the maximum permitted level of benzoic acid and benzoates (E 210 -213) in cooked shrimps in brine, with a view to preventing the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, the matter was discussed with Member States, It was agreed to raise the limit set out in the Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008 to 1500 mg/kg for cooked shrimps in brine.

21. The Commission considered evidence that the current maximum level for non dioxin-like PCBs of 75 ng/g wet weight in wild caught spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is not achievable under normal catch and growing conditions, even when following good fishery practices. It discussed with Member States the possibility of increasing the limit, set out in Regulation (EC) N° 1881/2006 as regards maximum level of non dioxin-like PCBs in this species. Although Germany objected, both on grounds of public health and the fact that since the species is listed under CITES, the allowable catch is set at zero and imports are not permitted. However, the Committee agreed to consider an increase in the limit.

22. The European Commission announced the re-organisation of DG SANCO; it is now the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, with the short changed name from DG SANCO to DG Santé.

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