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August 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. DG MARE publishes its own strategic management plan for 2015
2. Commission has adopts 2014-2020 EMFF subsidy packages for five EU countries
3. Commission extends derogation for French shore seine fishery in Mediterranean
4. Purse seine fishing for Bluefin tuna ceased due to expiry of quota
5. Commission amends NEAFC port state controls and reporting requirements
6. EU and Vietnam conclude free trade agreement; most tariff duties removed except tuna
7. EU Market Observatory publishes articles on Turkish fisheries, mussels and hake
8. Committee of the Regions calls for a general ban on waste disposal at sea
9. Commission to host Blue Invest conference in September 2015

Fish hygiene

10. Rapid alerts were notified for 26 consignments of fishery products
11. DG Santé reports on bivalve mollusc controls in Greece; serious deficiencies
12. DG Santé reports on fishery product controls in Faroe Islands; some deficiencies identified
13. DG Santé reports on bivalve mollusc controls in Morocco; significant improvements
14. DG Santé reports on fishery product controls in Bangladesh; important deficiencies
15. Commission requested Member States to monitor arsenic in food, including fish and seafood Commission authorises astaxanthin as a feed additive for crustacea and ornamental fish
16. Commission authorises DL-methionyl-DL-methionine as aquatic animal feed additive

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission has prepared and published its own management plan for 2015. Its mission is "to develop the potential of the European maritime economy and to secure sustainable fisheries, a stable supply of seafood, healthy seas and prosperous coastal communities – for today's Europeans and for future generations”. Key activities will address ocean governance, the blue economy, maritime spatial planning, multi-annual fisheries management plans, implementation of the landing obligation, and maintaining the fight against IUU fishing.

2. The European Commission has adopted investment subsidy packages for the maritime, fisheries and aquaculture sectors of Denmark (€267.6m, including €208.4 m of EU funds), Estonia (€129.6m, including €101m of EU funds), Germany (€284.6 m, including €219.6 m of EU funds) and Sweden (€172.9m, including €120.2 of EU funds). It also approved the fisheries operational plan for Lithuania, which will guide the spending of EUR82 million of public funds in sector subsidies. The investments are all available for the period 2014-2020. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella welcomed the adoption of the programmes under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), claiming that they will make fisheries and aquaculture more economically, socially and environmentally sustainable and lead to more jobs.

3. The Commission passed a regulation extending the derogation to the Government of France from the prohibition of the use of towed gears within three nautical miles of the coast in certain French coastal waters (Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur). The extension of the derogation follows a request to the Commission from the Government of France to the continuation of a shore seines fishery operated by 23 vessels.

4. The Commission passed a regulation requiring cessation of purse seine fishing for Bluefin tuna, due to expiry of the EU quota for this species. A stop fishing notice was also published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Swedish vessels fishing for Atlantic salmon.

5. The European Commission amended the control regime applicable to vessels operating in the NEAFC area. The measure strengthens port state controls, and requires additional follow-up action regarding vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. It also standardises the format of reports to be submitted to NEAFC. The amendment implements a decisions at the annual meeting of NEAFC in November 2013.

6. The EU and Vietnam concluded an agreement in principle for a free trade agreement (FTA), after two and a half years of negotiations. The agreement provides for a symmetrical liberalisation of trade with a transition period to allow Vietnam to adapt. It will remove tariff duties on 99% of tariff lines, except for a number which will remain subject to tariff quotas, which includes canned tuna. Besides eliminating tariffs, Vietnam will also remove almost all of its export duties and both sides will recognise Geographical Indications (GIs) representing flagship agricultural and fisheries products. The Agreement also includes commitments which will support the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources (including wildlife, forestry, and fisheries).

7. The European Commission published the latest edition of the EU Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture. Items include a Case study on fisheries and aquaculture in Turkey, and consumption trends for mussels and hake.

8. The European Committee of the Regions adopted an opinion on protecting the marine environment. It calls for a general ban on waste disposal at sea, a substantial expansion of the funding for organic farming to limit eutrophication of coastal waters and supports the Commission’s call for a political step-change in marine protection. It concludes and public information and dialogue is the key to the success of marine protection, and will continue to support the implementation of the ‘European Maritime Day’.

9. The Commission has issued an open invitation to participants representing EU coastal regions, blue growth stakeholders and EU institutions to the conference "Blue Invest – EU Support to Maritime Regions", to be held in Brussels on 22 September. The conference will explore how EU funding can help to foster jobs and growth in the maritime economy. The conference is organised through collaboration with the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions (CPMR) and will be opened by Mr.Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Fish hygiene

10. During August 2015 there were 26 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 2 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 18 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod or gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of frozen whiteleg shrimp from Vietnam, and 3 consignments of frozen swordfish and 3 consignments of tuna from Spain.

11. The European Commission DG Santé reported on a mission to Greece in October 2014 to evaluate the sanitary control system for the production and marketing of bivalve molluscs. The mission found that whilst considerable improvements have been made since previous audit, the system still presented some serious deficiencies. A purification centre had never had its HACCP plan assessed, own checks by approved establishments could not demonstrate the safety of the products, sampling points for routine monitoring were chosen based on microbiological criteria only (excluding consideration of biotoxins, phytoplankton toxic species and environmental contaminants), sampling plans did not ensure regular sampling and there was no testing for dioxins. Most importantly, production areas were not closed when E.coli was detected above specified limits, as required by EU regulations. The Competent Authority, the Hellenic Food Authority, was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions to the European Commission.

12. The European Commission DG Santé reported on a mission to the Faroe Islands to evaluate the sanitary control system for the export of fishery products to the EU. The mission found that the system generally offers sufficient guarantees that the system is in line with EU requirements. However, a number of deficiencies were identified concerning lack of control measures regarding the use of additives in fishery products (and use of a non/permitted additive), out of date list of approved establishments and significant errors in the implementation of HACCP based controls and official controls on fishery products regarding, lack of microbiological testing in cooked crustaceans and non-compliant histamine sampling procedures. The Faroese Food and Veterinary Authority was requested to propose corrective action to address the deficiencies.

13. The European Commission DG Santé reported on a mission to Morocco in January 2015 to evaluate the sanitary control system for the production and marketing of bivalve molluscs destined for export to the EU. The mission found that the official checks on live bivalve molluscs from classified production areas are generally implemented satisfactorily and that since the previous mission there were significant improvements in the classification of shellfish production areas and the sampling frequency for biotoxins. Although significant improvements were noted in testing methods, the laboratories of the National Fisheries Research Institute were not accredited to ISO 17025.In addition, regional laboratories responsible for preparing extracts for monitoring of biotoxins, were not accredited and not able to guarantee validity of their results. In order to correct the observed non-conformities, recommendations were made to the Competent Authority and an action plan agreed.

14. The European Commission DG Santé reported on a mission to Bangladesh in January 2015 to evaluate the sanitary control system for fishery products destined for export to the EU. The mission found that the documented operational procedures provide for an acceptable official control system, but that implementation showed a number of important deficiencies. In particular there was a lack of checks on temperature controls, freezer vessels were found to exhibit non-compliant structural standards, HACCP plans did not correctly identify all relevant hazards, and the Competent Authority, the Department of Fisheries, was not able to demonstrate sampling and testing for official control of histamine, dioxin/PCBs and additives. The maximum limits for cadmium applied were out of line with EU requirements. The Competent Authority and the Commission have since agreed a plan of corrective actions to address the deficiencies.

15. Following a review of arsenic in foods by the European Food Safety Authority, the Commission has requested Member States to implement, during the years 2016, 2017 and 2018, a detailed monitoring of the presence of inorganic and total arsenic and, if possible, other relevant arsenic species, in food, to include fish, seafood and algae products (including hijiki) as well as a wide variety of other foods, in order to enable an accurate estimation of exposure.

16. The European Commission passed a regulation extending authorisation for the use of astaxanthin as a sensory feed additive for fish, crustaceans and ornamental fish. The ruling follows an application submitted for a new use (in crustacean and ornamental fish) and a subsequent opinion of the European Food Safety Authority in 2014 that, under the proposed conditions of use in feed, astaxanthin does not have an adverse effects on animal health, human health or the environment and that it is efficacious in colouring the flesh of fish, the epidermis of crustaceans and the skin of ornamental fish. The Authority does not consider that there is a need for specific requirements of post- market monitoring. The regulation also sets a maximum limit of 100mg/kg astaxanthin in the feed. The authorisation for its use in salmon and trout is unaltered.

17. The European Commission passed a regulation authorising the use of DL-methionyl-DL-methionine as a feed additive for all aquatic animal species, to be classified in the additive category ‘nutritional additives’. The regulation follows an opinion of the European Food Safety Authority in January 2015 that DL-methionyl-DL-methionine does not have an adverse effect on animal health, human health or the environment and that it may be considered an efficacious source of the amino acid L-methionine for fish and crustacean species.

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