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May 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Public consultation on EU fisheries eco-labelling regulation
2. IOTC limits purse seine use of fish aggregating devices
3. Public consultation on demersal fishery management in western waters
4. Public consultation Northern Adriatic Sea small pelagic fisheries
5. New individual sea bass catch quotas proposed
6. Commission sets out Bluefin tuna controls for 2015 season
7. Commission adopts new measures to protect Celtic Sea demersal stocks
8. New Protocol ratified under EU Gabon Fisheries Partnership Agreement
9. New edition of EU Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products
10. EU implements fisheries control updates in line with NEAFC decisions
11. Commission Vella calls for level playing field on compliance in GCFM fisheries
12. Croatian fishing communities briefed on EU subsidies
13. Commissioner Vella speaks on aquaculture contribution to blue growth
14. EU FISHBOOST project to improve selective breeding for farmed fish species
15. Commission publishes results of consultation on EU funding in the Arctic
16. Joint Research Centre publishes video on science’s contribution to blue growth
17. EU COMMON SENSE project develops prototypes marine sensing technologies
18. Commission publishes a video informing people of existence of EU farmed fish

Fish hygiene

19. Rapid alerts were notified for 25 consignments of fishery products
20. DG Santé reports on Georgia; significant weaknesses in production controls
21. Commission raises maximum level of PCBs in spiny dogfish
22. EFSA improves food classification for consumption surveys for risk assessment

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission DG Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced a public consultation on eco-labelling. The regulation on a Common Market Organisation for fisheries and aquaculture products (CMO, Reg. EU 1379/2013) commits the Commission to submit a feasibility report on options for a Union-wide ecolabel scheme for fishery and aquaculture products, and the consultation will contribute to this feasibility study. The consultation is in the form of a questionnaire, and responses can be submitted up to 31.07.2015.

2. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held its 19th annual meeting of in Busan, Korea, from 24 April to 1 May 2015. The IOTC adopted six proposals supported by the EU, including improved reporting requirements, a re-insertion of the expired IOTC capacity management framework, and a conservation measure on several species of billfish (striped marlin, black marlin and blue marlin), regional stocks of which are known to be depleted. A working group was also set up to assess the impact of Fishing Aggregating Devices (FADs) used in large-scale fishing. In the meanwhile, as a precautionary measure, the IOTC agreed on an interim limit of 550 active drifting FADs per purse seiner.

3. The European Commission DG Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced a public consultation on a proposal for development of multi-annual plans for the management of demersal fisheries in western EU waters. The proposal aims to replace the existing multi-annual management plans for cod, northern hake, southern hake and Nephrops, and sole (Channel and Bay of Biscay) and the fishing effort management regime for western waters, with an updated approach in line with the newly adopted CFP. The approach will aim to ensure that demersal fish stocks in the area reach levels capable of producing MSY, and that depleted fish stocks are allowed to recover. The new plans will reflect the need for regional decision-making and management measures that are adapted to regional circumstances. Comments on the discussion document should be submitted by 11.09.2015.

4. The Commission’s DG Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced a public consultation on a proposal for a new regulation establishing a multiannual plan for the management of Northern Adriatic Sea small pelagic fisheries. The proposal sets out means of implementation of the reformed CFP in this region, especially in relation to the landing obligation and introduction of multi-annual management plans, as well as achieving "good environmental status" in relation to fisheries under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Comments on the discussion document should be submitted by 11.09.2015.

5. On 20 May the European Commission announced a further proposal aimed at halting the decline of sea bass in the Celtic Sea, Irish Sea, Channel and North Sea. The new measures would provide monthly catch limits per vessel for each kind of fishing gear, in order to reduce overall catches and bring the stock within sustainable limits. The Commission's proposal would also extend the areas subject to a prohibition on fishing. The Commission also published an infographic to accompany the proposal.

6. The Commission has announced the start of the main Bluefin Tuna fishing season (which runs from 26 May to 24 June, when purse seiners, are allowed to fish in the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic). This year, for the first time since the establishment of the Bluefin tuna recovery plan in 2006, there is a 20% increase in the quota that the European Union is allowed to fish (over 9,372 tonnes). The Commission set out the control measures it will be employing to ensure that this quota is not overfished, including use of VMS and the deployment of a significant number of inspectors, patrol vessels and aircraft from Member States and the European Fisheries Control Agency. The Commission also published a fact sheet setting out some of the data and background relating to the Bluefin tuna stock, its history and the recovery plan.

7. The Commission adopted a regulation strengthening some of the technical conservation measures to protect the haddock, cod and whiting stocks in the Celtic Sea. The measures include required use of a square mesh panel in certain demersal trawl nets, but the specific requirements may be derogated under certain circumstances to be determined by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF).

8. The EU gave notice that a new Protocol setting out fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for in the EU Gabon Fisheries Partnership Agreement, has been ratified by both parties. The Protocol will enter into force on 8 May 2015.

9. The European Commission has published the latest edition of the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products, which features reports on markets for blue whiting and Norway lobster in Norway, and sole and monkfish markets in Belgium. It also contains an analysis of EU Imports–Exports in 2014, a case study of Fisheries in Morocco, and an analysis of consumption trends in rainbow trout and cod.

10. The Commission passed an implementing regulation to bring into EU law the adjustments to the control regime under the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission at its annual meetings in November 2013 and 2014. The measures include strengthened Port State control and inspection reports, new data exchange formats and protocols, confidential treatment of electronic data, and new codes for main gear types.

11. European Commission for Environment, Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Mr.Karmenu Vella gave a speech on the future of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, during his visit to the Milan Expo. He emphasised the need to take concrete actions to ensuring a level playing field within the Mediterranean and Black sea Regions, especially in the area of compliance. He also spoke positively of the growth opportunities for fishermen in the region under the blue growth agenda, giving examples in fish farming, ecotourism and marine litter recovery.

12. The European Commission, with the support of FARNET and the Croatian authorities, held a conference on 6 May 2015 to kick-off Community-led local development (CLLD) in fisheries areas in Croatia. The aim is to raise awareness about how fishing communities in this new Member State can draw on EUR257 million of subsidies for Croatian fisheries from European Fisheries Fund, to “create jobs, boost competitiveness, and create an environmentally friendly and resource-efficient economy”.

13. European Commission for Environment, Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Mr.Karmenu Vella hosted an event and gave a speech “Aquaculture in Europe: A model for the future”, at the EXPO 2015 in Milan. He highlighted to role of aquaculture in the future of global and EU food supplies, and its potential contribution to the EU’s blue growth agenda. He also presented prizes to winning schools in the Commission’s “Farmed in the EU” campaign.

14. The EU funded FISHBOOST project was launched, which aims to improve selective breeding for six farmed fish species – Atlantic salmon, common carp, European seabass, gilthead seabream, rainbow trout and turbot – while taking stock of social and industry views on acceptability and costs. The project will use a mixture of modern and traditional breeding methods, and aims to strengthen disease resistance, lean fillet yield and feed conversion. The project is coordinated by the Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture research – Nofima.

15. The Commission published the results of a public consultation on streamlining EU funding in the Arctic, following publication of a discussion document and a call for comments in September 2014. Seventy two comments were received. Responses highlighted the main challenges and opportunities for the Arctic, such as infrastructure development, climate change impacts, environmental protection and sustainable development. Respondents also emphasised the importance of enhancing regional and international cooperation. The European Commission will now organise a series of stakeholder workshops between April and June 2015 in order to explore these key issues in further detail.

16. The European Commission Joint Research Centre has published a video on the role of science in contributing to “Blue Growth” (the maritime contribution to achieving the goals of the Europe 2020 strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth). The video describes some of the research activities in stock assessment, economic modelling and use of marine spaces.

17. The EC-funded COMMON SENSE project has held a partner meeting to discuss progress in developing prototypes for innovative, next generation sensing technologies to support the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The project will assess new ocean thermometry technologies, remote sensing of heavy metal concentrations, assessment of micro plastic fractions within marine litter and underwater noise assessment. COMMON SENSE will run until February 2017 with an overall budget of €6.07 million and is coordinated by the Spain’s LEITAT Technological Center.

18. The European Commission published a video informing people that fish is, in fact, farmed in the EU.

Fish hygiene

19. During May 2015 there were 25 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 3 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 5 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 14 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of clams from Italy and 2 consignments of frozen squid from Argentina.

20. The FVO of the European Commission published a report of an evaluation mission (in late 2014) to the Republic of Georgia, to assess the sanitary controls applied to fishery products and honey for export to the EU. In relation to fishery products the mission found that the control system in place could in principle and with targeted improvements provide for an acceptable official control system for fishery products. However significant weaknesses were found in the official control system with regard to controls at production level, and analysis of an incomplete range of parameters (no histamine or dioxin/ PCB checks were performed). The single establishment currently identified for EU export would also have to undergo significant upgrading to meet basic structural and hygiene requirements. Although progress is evident since the last mission (in 2010) the competent authority (the National Food Authority under the Ministry of Agriculture) cannot at present offer sufficient guarantees concerning sanitary conditions of fishery products to be exported to the EU.

21. The European Commission Regulation adopted a regulation amending the maximum levels for non-dioxin-like PCBs in wild caught spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias). This follows representations from stakeholder associations which provided data showing that that the current maximum level of 75 ng/g wet weight is not achievable on many occasions, following good fishery practices under normal catch and growing conditions. As a result the Commission has raised the maximum level set out under Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 to 200 ng/g wet weight.

22. The European Food Safety Authority launched its improved harmonised food classification and description system (called ‘FoodEx2’) to further help national data collection agencies and other scientific bodies provide comparable scientific data on food consumption for use in risk assessments. The advanced features of FoodEx2 have led the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) to adopt EFSA’s system as the basis for a global system, which will now be adopted as the basis for consumption surveys to underpin risk assessment studies.

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