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March 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Thirty-six Atlantic, Baltic and North sea stocks could soon reach MSY
2. EU and Greenland agree on new Protocol worth EUR17.8 million per year
3. European Fisheries Control Agency conducts 12,600 inspections in 2014
4. Catch limits imposed on recreational seabass fishery
5. EU declares autonomous quota for Atlanto Scandian herring
6. Council adopts new management measures for Mediterranean Sea
7. South Indian Ocean Fisheries propose ban on gillnets
8. EU Market Observatory publishes reports on picarel, anchovy markets in Greece
9. EU MARLITT project publishes toolkits on marine litter recovery
10. DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gives speech in Philippines on responsible fishing
11. Commission publishes first of series of fact sheets on EU fisheries subsidies
12. Commission adopts programme of fisheries and maritime subsidies for Malta
13. Commission to support a Fisheries Advisory Council for the Black Sea.
14. Commission calls for cohesion policy experts
15. EU project AQUAEXCEL improves coordination of EU aquaculture research
16. DG MARE publishes posters on 2015 TACs and fish processing and marketing
17. EC-funded SOCIOEC project holds workshop on socio-economic impacts of the CFP

Fish hygiene

18. During March 2015: 34 rapid alert notifications for fishery products
19. DG SANTÉ reports on fishery product controls in Croatia; absence of official sampling
20. Commission considers test method for measuring weight of glazed fishery products
21. Classification of Class A production areas for bivalve molluscs to be amended
22. ECsafeSEAFOOD project develops tests for unregulated seafood contaminants
23. Contact points published for “Better Training for Safer Food" initiative

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission announced that the number of fisheries exploited by the EU at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels in the East Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea should increase from 27 in 2014 to a potential of 36 if fishing quotas decided by the Agriculture and Fisheries Council last December are respected. With the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy in 2014, this number is expected to increase further, in particular with the entry into force of the new landing obligations and multiannual management plans.

2. The EU and Greenland agreed on the content of a new Protocol to implement their Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which will enter into force on 1 January 2016 for a period of 5 years. The EU will provide a financial contribution of EUR17.8 million per year in return for fishing opportunities for EU fishing vessels for shrimp, redfish, capelin and other species.

3. The European Fisheries Control Agency published its annual report for 2014. One of the main activities has been helping Member States to prepare for the monitoring of the landing obligation under the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, which came into operation in January 2015. The support included rolling out new data network systems, adding modules for training of fisheries’ inspectors and coordinating joint monitoring activities. The EFCA also reports that the number of inspections in 2014 rose by 20% compared to 2013, reaching approximately 12,600 inspections. The Agency also undertook several capacity building operations in non-EU countries in support of sustainable fisheries partnerships agreements. It also assisted EU delegations in the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations.

4. The European Council adopted new measures for conservation of the seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) fishery, to account for the decision to limit catches of seabass, in line with the scientific advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) published in June 2014. For the first time, and EU Measure will limit recreational fishing, which accounts for 25% of sea bass mortality, with a catch limit of three fish per day per angler (of which there are estimated to be over 2 million).

5. The EU amended the 2015 TACs and quotas regulation regarding sand-eel, megrim, Northern prawn in the North Sea and the catches taken in the region concerning the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation. In addition, given the lack of any agreement for 2015 on the sharing of the concerning Atlanto-Scandian herring stock shared with Norway and other neighbouring countries, the EU fixed an autonomous quota based on the Union share of this stock in recent years.

6. The European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached provisional agreement on implementation of new conservation measures adopted in the last session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). These include technical measures for the sustainable exploitation of red coral, the mitigation of incidental catches of sea turtles and cetaceans, and an updated framework for the catch reporting. The Commission welcomed the progress made.

7. The South Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA), a non-tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, adopted a motion which could lead to a ban on gillnets in the Indian Ocean. It was also agreed that the headquarters of SIOFA will be installed in La Réunion. The parties also considered the adoption of a Monitoring and Control Surveillance (MCS) system but no decision was made.

8. The EU’s Market Observatory for Fisheries and aquaculture Products published its latest edition, with articles about the markets for picarel and anchovy in Greece, and for cod and flounder in Lithuania. Special features include studies on the market for hake in France and on the consumption of seabass and seabream.

9. The EU funded MARLITT project published two toolkits for the management of marine litter recovery programmes. One concerns marine litter retention onboard (when marine litter comes on board during trawl fisheries) and the other concerns the retrieval of derelict fishing gears. The development of the toolkit was based on a five case studies of fishing for litter projects in European marine waters. These were located in the Baltic region, Ireland, Italy, Bulgaria and Croatia. The MASRLITT project was commissioned by the Directorate General for the Environment of the European Commission and the toolkits are available from

10. The European Commission’s Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of Ms.Lowri Evans, gave a speech at the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea of University in the Philippines, setting out the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy, and its implications for countries which trade with the EU, especially in relation to responsible fishing. She called for greater cooperation between the Philippines and the EU within international organisations and in the Regional Fisheries Management Organisations of which both parties are members.

11. The Commission will be publishing a series of fact sheets setting out how EU fisheries subsidies will be spent in different countries under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The first of these, concerning Latvia, describes the funding for a range of different activities including promotion, implementation of the CFP, community led development, marketing and processing and supporting implementation of the Integrated Maritime Policy.

12. The European Commission adopted the Operational Programme for the maritime and fisheries sector submitted by the Government of Malta. The plan will provide subsidies for investment in infrastructure, aquaculture and equipping fishermen with new skills to diversify their activities. The support measures during the period 2014 to 2020 amount to EUR29 million of which EUR23 million will be funded by EU taxpayers via the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. Commissioner Vella said that the subsidies would be “will be a shot in the arm for Malta's coastal communities and economy as a whole”.

13. Mr.Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech at the 2nd Black Sea Stakeholders conference on blue economy held on Sofia, Bulgaria. He claimed that the blue economy in Bulgaria and Romania created a total of 160,000 jobs and a Gross Value Added of over EUR1.2 billion. He indicated that the European Commission will support the creation of a Fisheries Advisory Council for the Black Sea.

14. The Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission published a Call for Expressions of Interest from external experts to support Cohesion Policy, and regional and urban development within the EU. The experts in maritime and fisheries issues will support the Commission and Member States in strategic assessments of national and regional policies, advice to the Commission and Members States, and socio-economic analyses.

15. The EU funded research project AQUAEXCEL (Aquaculture Infrastructures for Excellence in European Fish Research) published its latest newsletter describing a number of case studies showing how the project has improved collaboration and coordination of aquaculture research in the EU.

16. The European Commission DG MARE published two posters describing the 2015 Total Allowable Catches and fishing quotas in the EU waters, and the EU’s fish processing and marketing sector.

17. The EC-funded SOCIOEC (Socio-Economic Effects of Management Measures of the future CFP) project held a workshop at the Royal Flemish Academy for Sciences and the Arts to discuss evaluation methods for the social and economic impacts of the common fisheries policy, and in particular new management measures such as the landing obligation

Fish hygiene

18. During March 2015 there were 34 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notification for cephalopod products, 3 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 21 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 3 consignments of clams from Italy, 3 consignments of shrimp from Vietnam, 3 consignments of swordfish from Spain, and 2 consignments of smoked salmon from Poland.

19. The Food and Veterinary Office of the DG SANTÉ has published a report of a mission in May 2014 to assess the sanitary controls applied to fishery products by the Government of Croatia, which joined the EU last year. The mission found that there had been considerable improvements in official controls on fishery products since previous FVO visit, with new controls introduced on fishing vessels and at landing sites. However, the effectiveness of the system was found to be compromised by the absence of official sampling for a several important chemical hazards such as such as heavy metals, dioxins, Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) or Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). Neither was there official monitoring place for microbiological hazards. Poor hygiene conditions (e.g. cold stores used for storage of waste and rusty equipment) were also found in one establishment approved by the Competent Authority, the Veterinary and Food Safety Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture. The Competent Authority subsequently prepared a plan of corrective actions accepted by the Commission.

20. The Commission took a step closer to adopting a standard method for determination of drained net weight for glazed fishery products. It discussed a draft decision setting out the Welmec method with Member States, and asked the Joint Research Centre (JRC) to evaluate the method.

21. The Commission and Member States discussed amending the classification procedure for Class A production areas for live bivalve molluscs, to bring it into line with a revised international (CODEX) standard. Member States supported the measure and formal amendments to Commission Regulation (EC) No 2073/2005 on microbiological criteria for foodstuffs, Regulation (EC) No 853/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, will be voted on at the next Committee meeting.

22. The EU-funded ECsafeSEAFOOD project, coordinated by Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) announced that it has developed a number of new, sensitive and rapid screening, detection and extraction methods for seafood contaminants which until now have been subject to regulatory control by the EU, including those originating from harmful algal blooms and those associated with marine litter. These contaminants include microplastics, pharmaceuticals, endocrine disrupting compounds, personal care products (e.g. musks), marine biotoxins, and some specific heavy metals (e.g. methylmercury). The outputs were presented at a meeting, hosted by AZTI Tecnalia in Bilbao, Spain and will be published in a special issue of the Journal of Environmental Research entitled: "Non-regulated environmental contaminants in seafood: contributions of the ECsafeSEAFOOD project".

23. DG SANTÉ published the contact points for the EU’s “Better Training for Safer Food" initiative in each EU Member State as well as some third countries.

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