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July 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission holds annual seminar on fish stocks; Mediterranean prospects bleak
2. NEAFC extends Port State Control Measures to fresh fish landings
3. EU increases the minimum size for Northern sea bass
4. Commission increases the 2015 fishing quotas due to deferrals from 2014
5. Commissions publishes new list of IUU vessels
6. Stop fishing notices published
7. Commission increases days at sea for Spanish vessels in Gulf of Cadiz
8. EU Parliament publishes study on the Canning Industry in EU Outermost Regions
9. Commission publishes guidelines on State Aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector
10. Commission adopts fisheries operational programme for Cyprus
11. Commission adopts fisheries operational programme for Slovenia
12. IATTC adopts measures to protect manta rays and regulate FADs
13. Commission publishes latest edition of EUMOFA
14. EU and Mauritania conclude new fisheries Protocol worth EUR59.1 million per year
15. Commission grants import duty derogation for tuna loins from Kenya
16. Commission publishes study on socioeconomic impacts of CFP reform
17. Commission publishes study on autonomous tariff quotas
18. Commission proposes extending autonomous tariff quotas for the period 2016-2018

Fish hygiene

19. Rapid alerts were notified for 41 consignments of fishery products
20. DG SANTÉ publishes 2014 RASFF report; 541 notifications from fish products
21. DG SANTÉ reports processed animal proteins in aquaculture feeds in Portugal
22. DG SANTÉ reports on safety of EU fish imports from Macedonia
23. Commission extends import controls on bivalve molluscs from Turkey
24. DG SANTÉ and DG MARE to undertake pilot joint fish traceability audits
25. Commission reminds food industry new ingredient labelling required by 2017
26. EFSA reports on risks and temperature of pre-packed fishery products
27. EU raises PAH limits for Japanese smoked bonito product
28. ECsafeSEAFOOD project to launch screening sensors for common fish hazards
29. Commission revises list of permitted imports of animal products from China
30. Commission ratifies veterinary equivalence agreement with New Zealand
31. Croatia declared free from koi herpes virus (KHV)

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission held its annual seminar on the state of fish stocks and the economic performance of fishing fleets. It announced that the latest biological advice shows that EU fisheries in the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic are moving to levels that can maintain fish stocks in the long term ('maximum sustainable yield'), in line with the EU's fisheries policy. In contrast, scientific advice on the Mediterranean paints a far bleaker picture with overfishing of most commercial stocks. Commissioner Vella noted that multiannual plans in the Mediterranean are now a 'political priority'.

2. The North-East Atlantic fisheries Commission (NEAFC) announced the coming into force of its extended Port State Control Measures. The scope of the measures, which require Flag States of the vessel that caught the fish being landed to certify that fishing vessels are authorised and have fished legally before they can land fish in another country, will now be extended from frozen to all fishery products (both fresh and frozen). The Port State will also be obligated to carry out inspections of a minimum proportion of the landings. The system is considered to be aligned with the 2009 FAO Port State Measures Agreement.

3. EU Member States agreed to the Commission's proposal to increase the minimum size for Northern sea bass from 36 to 42 cm. The new rule applies to both commercial and recreational fishermen and is intended to further improve the protection of the stock and young fish greater opportunity to reproduce before they are caught. However Member Stares did not adopt proposals to increase the minimum size for the two southern stocks of sea bass in Iberian waters and the Bay of Biscay, due to the lack of fully reliable data. The Commission will seek additional scientific advice on these stocks, with a view to preparing new proposals for 2016 onwards.

4. The European Commission increased the 2015 fishing quotas for certain member states which requested a withholding of 2014 quotas, including quotas not used due the ban by Russia on fishery product imports from the EU.

5. The Commission passed a regulation updating its list of vessels identified as engaging in IUU fishing, along with their registration numbers and their flag states.

6. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Swedish vessels fishing for common sole, and Danish vessels fishing for sandeel.

7. The Commission has increased the number of days at sea for Spanish trawl vessels operating in the Gulf of Cádiz, due to the withdrawal of some vessel from the segment. Vessels may now operate in this regional for 117 days per year.

8. The European Parliament Fisheries Committee published a Study on Pelagic Fisheries and the Canning Industry in Outermost Regions, undertaken by consultants in 2015. The study considers the dependency of the economies of the Azores, Madeira, Canary Islands, Mayotte and Reunion on large pelagic fisheries, especially in relation to tuna canning. It assesses the status of the different stocks and the measures in place to ensure sustained operations. The OR fisheries for large pelagic fish are pursued by around 236 vessels with a GRT of 23 648 and catch an average of 49,195 tonnes of tuna and tuna like species, valued at EUR73.2 million. The tuna sector is served by 14 processing establishments, of which 10 are directly linked to the tuna canning sector. However, there are only 6 operating canneries, with the five most significant ones located in the Azores.

9. The European Commission published official guidelines for the examination of State Aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector. The document sets out the conditions for assessing compliance with EU Treaties and legislation of subsidies provided by EU Member States to their fishery and aquaculture sectors. The guidelines apply to aid schemes and to individual aid and cover the duty to notify the Commission of State Aid schemes, principles of assessment to assess whether the aid impacts negatively on competition and trade, and defines the types of aid which can be regarded as compatible with the internal market, such as compensation for natural disasters or adverse climatic events.

10. The European Commission adopted the operational programme (OP) for the disbursement of subsidies to the fishery sector of Cyprus, under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The package of measures is worth EUR53m during the period 2014-2020, which will include more than EUR39m from EU funds. The measures are intended to help to improve the livelihood of fishing communities through better infrastructure and new professional development opportunities, limit the impact of fishing on the marine environment, ensure the balance between fishing capacity and available fishing opportunities, and promote economically and environmentally sustainable aquaculture and processing sectors.

11. The European Commission adopted the operational programme for the disbursement of subsidies to the maritime and fishery sector of Slovenia, under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The package will provide financial support worth €32.6m, including almost €25m from EU funds, for the period 2014-2020.

12. The annual meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, adopted a retention ban and mandatory handling guidelines for manta rays. The IATTC also agreed to establish a marking scheme for fish aggregating devices (FADs), and to strengthen current measures against illegal fishing. However EU proposals on shark conservation and on port state measures (PSM) were not adopted. The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Its members include, among others, Canada, China, the EU, Japan, the US, Ecuador, Mexico and a number of other Central and South American states.

13. The European Commission released the latest edition of the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture products. This edition features articles on cuttlefish and seabass in France, a case study on geographical indications of origin and traditional specialities in the seafood sector and data on the consumption of carp and herring.

14. The European Union and Mauritania concluded negotiations for a new Protocol to their Fisheries Partnership Agreement which will allow EU fishermen to fish in Mauritanian waters for the next four years. The EU fleet will be allowed to fish for shrimp, demersal fish, tuna and small pelagic fish, up to a total of 281 500 tonnes a year. The EU will pay EUR59.1 million per year to the partnership, of which EUR4.1 million will be used to support local fishing communities in Mauritania.

15. The European Commission granted a derogation from the rules of origin to Kenya in respect of 2,000 tonnes of tuna loins for a period of one year. The measure will allow Kenya to export to the EU, without incurring import duties, the stated quantity of products, which do not meet the requirements of ACP origin, and is granted due to the exceptionally low catch rates in the region, which would otherwise undermine the viability of the Kenyan fish processing sector.

16. The European Commission published the results of the SOCIOEC Project, a EUR3.0 million EU FP7 interdisciplinary project on the Economic effects of management measures of the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The project brought fisheries economists, social scientists and biologists together with industry partners and other key stakeholders to look into the impacts of the changes proposed in CFP Reform. The booklet publication presents the main findings of the project, and describes and number of case studies of specific regional fisheries, including selected fisheries in the North Sea Demersal Fisheries, Western Waters Fisheries and Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

17. The European Commission published the final report of a consultancy study evaluating the EU’s policy on the supply of raw material for the EU fish processing industry, which is substantially reliant on fishery products from third countries. The EU’s support measure for the processing industry (the autonomous tariff suspensions or tariff quotas) was evaluated for the period 2013-2015. It was found not to have any detectable negative impacts on the EU production sector, and costs the EU Member States about 3% (about EUR220 million) of the value added generated by the industry, but supports the creation of EUR 540 million in additional value added. The study concludes that it is therefore considered to be an efficient policy tool.

18. The European Commission proposed a new Council Regulation extending autonomous tariff quotas (ATQs) for certain fishery products for the period 2016-2018. The proposal will renew the existing measures and thereby avoiding any disruption in the supply of raw material for further processing by the EU fish processing industry.

Fish hygiene

19. During July 2015 there were 41 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 5 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 5 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 29 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 7 consignments of swordfish from Spain, 2 consignments of Nephrops norvegicus from Croatia and 2 consignments of frozen cod from China.

20. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ reported on the food safety conditions for the use of processed animal proteins (PAP) in aquaculture feeds in Portugal, following a visit by a team of EU specialists in December 2014. The mission found that there is an adequate and effective official control system in place to ensure that only eligible PAP is used for the production of aquaculture compound feed. However the organisation of official controls on the production chain of feed for aquaculture species is not implemented in line with the control plan. The General Directorate of Food and Veterinary was recommended to prepare a plan of corrective actions for submission to the European Commission.

21. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ reported on the food safety conditions for fishery products exported to the EU from Macedonia, following a visit by a team of EU specialists in February 2015. The mission found that in principle the existing control system implemented has potential to offer sufficient guarantees concerning conditions of fishery products to be exported to the EU. However, a number of deficiencies were identified, which undermine the effectiveness of the system. Sampling and analysis of fishery products did not include dioxins/PCBs and PAHs and no organoleptic examinations and parasite checks were made. The effectiveness of the residue monitoring programme for aquaculture products was undermined by the sampling strategy and by delays in reporting. A number of non-compliant conditions were identified, including storage of fishery products at temperatures higher than -18?, and HACCP plans which did not correctly identify all relevant risks. The Competent Authority, the Food and Veterinary Agency, was informed of the deficiencies and has undertaken to implement a plan of corrective actions.

22. The European Commission DG SANTÉ has published its 2014 report on the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed. There were a total of 3157 original notifications, out of which 125 were bivalve molluscs and products, 21 cephalopods, 72 crustacea and 323 other fish and fishery products (total 541). Mercury in fishery products (reported by Spain and Italy) accounted for the largest single category of hazard/product combination.

23. The European Commission extended the application of the safeguard measures placed on the import of bivalve molluscs from Turkey until 31 December 2016. The measure extends the ban on the importation into the Union of live and chilled bivalve molluscs from Turkey, and requires Member States to sample and tests consignments of frozen and processed bivalve molluscs. The measure was applied in 2013 due to the findings of an audit by DG SANTÉ inspectors. The extension provides additional time for a further audit before the ban can be lifted.

24. The European Commission announced that at the end of 2015 DG SANTÉ and DG MARE will undertake a pilot joint audit on Member States' control systems for ensuring traceability and labelling of fishery products. The new holistic approach will cover the application of health and consumer information rules as well as rules under the common market organisation for fish and aquaculture products. The project will continue in 2016 and lead to an overview report in 2017. The results will feed into the development of guidance on best practices and will be extended within the BTSF programme.

25. The European Commission published a press release on the current status of food labelling legislation. It reminds consumers and food business operators that new EU laws on food information to consumers entered into application on 13 December 2014 which significantly strengthen requirements for allergen labelling, as well as requiring a clear indication of defrosted products. New obligations to provide nutrition information will apply from 13 December 2016 and will require labels to indicate the quantity of certain ingredients as a percentage of the final product (Quantitative Ingredients Declaration - QUID). New and updated guidelines for QUID and allergen labelling are under preparation by the Commission.

26. Following a request from the European Commission, EFSA delivered a scientific report providing scientific and technical advice on the evaluation of the temperature to be applied to pre-packed fishery products at retail level. Since EU rules for the storage and transport of fish only refer to the ‘temperature approaching that of melting ice’, the study aimed to identify what temperature conditions, including a possible tolerances, could be applied for the storage and transport of packed fresh fishery products at retail level, where icing is not possible. The study concluded that pre-packed fresh fishery products can be stored at refrigeration temperatures above 0 °C (e.g. 3–5 °C) and be compliant with the current EU and international rules, in relation to histamine, L.monocytogenes and Y. enterocolitica hazards, since the application of commercial shelf life limits provides an acceptable margin of safety. The study recommended that in future, and to avoid ambiguity, quantitative temperature limits should be specified.

27. Following evidence presented by the Government of Japan, the European Commission has passed a regulation raising the maximum levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in katsuobushi, a smoked bonito product imported from Japan. Despite the application of best practices, it was not possible for the product to be manufactured in compliance with a reduced limit of 2µg/kg of benzpyrene, which came into force in 2014, and the new limit is set at 5µg/kg. In the same regulation, derogations currently applied to smoked Baltic sprat were also applied to smoked Baltic herring, raising the limit to 5µg/kg.

28. The EU funded research project ECsafeSEAFOOD announced that it is has made substantial progress in the development of fast screening sensors to detect harmful toxins and pharmaceutical agents that can accumulate in seafood. These include parameters such as chloramphenicol, sulphonamides, azaspiracids and tetrodotoxin. ECsafeSEAFOOD is an EU-funded project that aims to assess and evaluate food safety issues related to contaminants of emerging concern present in seafood as a result of environmental contamination. The resulting contaminants database collates all related literature on contaminants of emerging concern in seafood species and includes the project results

29. The European Commission passed a decision amending the lists of products of animal origin which may be imported from China and are therefore exempt from the general ban. Permitted imports include fishery products (except from aquaculture), gelatine, pet food, and certain feed and food additives, food supplements and feed materials.

30. The Commission has passed a decision ratifying amendments to the 1997 Agreement between the European Community and New Zealand on sanitary measures applicable to trade in live animals and animal products, to account for changes inter alia in the institutions responsible for implementation and modifications to the EU rules on testing methods for detecting marine biotoxins in live bivalve molluscs.

31. The Commission passed a decision declaring that Croatia should be recognised as free from koi herpes virus (KHV), following the submission of a dossier of information from the relevant authorities in that country. It is therefore allowed to restrict imports of fish from other regions which may present a risk of introduction of this disease.

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