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September 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU public consultation on eco-labelling shows demand for regulation
2. Draft data collection framework regulation published to adapt to reformed CFP
3. NAFO holds 37th annual meeting; fails to ban shark finning
4. Commission publishes proposed 2016 TACs for Baltic Sea
5. EU approves ongoing access for Venezuelan vessels to French Guiana’s zone
6. Stop fishing notices published due to exhaustion of quota
7. Parliament considers changes fisheries and environmental measures in Mediterranean
8. Parliament considers amendments to NEAFC port state control rules
9. European Parliament approves new EU fisheries protocols with three African countries
10. DG MARE publishes evaluation of EU’s Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Gabon
11. Parliament revises management measures for Atlantic Bluefin tuna, in line with ICCAT
12. EU to joint Extended Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna
13. UN adopts a Sustainable Development Goal concerning the ocean
14. EU Conference promotes investment in blue economy; EUR 7 billion available
15. Commissioner Vella talks on EU’s Arctic strategy; EUR40 million for research
16. Commissioner Vella visits counterparts in the US

Fish hygiene

17. Rapid alerts were notified for 35 consignments of fishery products
18. FVO reports on Thailand’s bivalve molluscs controls; potential risk to public health
19. Antarctic krill oil authorised as an omega 3 food fortification ingredient

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission published the results of a public consultation on fisheries and aquaculture ecolabelling. The consultation, which closed in July 2015, attracted 443 responses from 24 EU Member States and 12 non-EU countries, as well as 8 position papers. Respondents included NGOs, professional organisations involved in fisheries and aquaculture as well as certification schemes, and members of the public. 70% or more of respondents thought that the EU should set minimum standards for ecolabels, there should be international standards in place, and that national authorities should check claims and police certification bodies. Respondents were more divided about creating a special EU ecolabel for fishery and aquaculture products.

2. The European Commission has re-published its proposal for a new data collection framework regulation to support the reformed Common Fisheries Policy. The proposal sets out the newly strengthened obligations of Member States to collect and communicate fisheries data to the Commission, bringing it into line with measures such as the landing obligation and requirement to achieve maximum sustainable yield. It also extends the data to be reported from recreational fisheries, and requires that data collection proposals be included with the EMFF Operational Programmes.

3. The North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) held its 37th annual meeting on 21-25 September 2015 in Halifax, Canada, at which it adopted Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for a number of stocks, and several new measures to improve the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems. However the EU’s proposal to update the existing shark management rules in line with the EU ban on shark finning was not adopted due to opposition from some of the 12 NAFO member states.

4. The European Commission published its proposals for fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2016, in line with ICES advice and the EU’s aim to achieve MSY for all fish stocks by 2020 at the latest. The Commission proposes to increase the catch limits for herring in the Western and Central Baltic, as well as for Baltic Main Basin salmon, and plaice. The Commission proposed to decrease the TAC for Eastern Baltic cod by 20%, to 41,143 tonnes. Decreases are also proposed in the TACs for the remaining Baltic Sea fish stocks and the Total Allowable Catch for all stocks will decrease by about 15% compared to 2015. The Council will discuss the Commission's proposals with a view to their adoption at its October meeting. If adopted, the proposals will apply from 1 January 2016.

5. The European Council approved the continuation of access arrangements granted to Venezuelan fishing vessels to EU waters in the EEZ of French Guiana. The measure renews arrangements which have been in place for several decades and ensures that the shrimp processing industry based in the French Guiana can continue to benefit from the landings from those fishing vessels.

6. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Member States for vessels fishing for redfish in NAFO 3M area, for Belgian vessels fishing for skates and rays, Finnish vessels fishing for Atlantic salmon, German vessels fishing for sandeel and Irish vessels fishing for alfonsinos, greater silver smelt, black scabbardfish, snow crab (in Greenland waters), Greenland halibut, blue ling, redfish, roundnose grenadier and red seabream.

7. The European Parliament has considered amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1343/2011 laying down the provisions for fishing Mediterranean region, in line with management changes adopted by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean. The measures concern the sustainable exploitation of red coral using Remotely Operated underwater Vehicles (ROVs), mitigation of incidental catches of seabirds, sea turtles, monk seals and cetaceans, and protection of endangered or threatened species of shark and ray.

8. The European Parliament has commenced the consideration of the Commission’s proposal for amending the EU’s fisheries management rules to bring them into line with the scheme of control and enforcement adopted by the North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC). The changes will align the controls with the FAO Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU, and will modify reporting requirements in the case of transhipment by fishing vessels to carrier vessels.

9. The plenary session of the European Parliament has voted to approve new protocols to the bilateral Fisheries Partnership Agreements between the EU and Madagascar, the EU and Cape Verde and the EU and Guinea Bissau. The European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella welcomed the vote and promised that the Commission would monitor the implementation of the sectoral support by partner countries.

10. The European Commission DG MARE published the report by consultants on the evaluation of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Gabon. The Protocol provides for an annual financial compensation of 1,350,000 euros, corresponding to 900,000 euros for the access rights and 450,000 euros for the sectoral funding supporting the implementation of a sectoral fisheries policy in Gabon. It grants 27 fishing opportunities for EU purse seiners and 8 fishing opportunities for EU pole-and-line vessels, with a reference tonnage of 20,000 t per year. The evaluation has indicated that the agreement is well utilised and accounts for 11 % of the Spanish purse sein catch and 27 % of the French catch achieved in the East Atlantic. However, the implementation of some technical measures is however problematic, notably for the use of FADs (50 % of the fishing operations in the area) and some provisions about logbooks. The estimated cost-benefit ratio is 10 euros of total added value are generated for each 1 euro invested. The total added value benefitting Gabon is 2.8 million euros. The benefits are distributed between the EU (40 %) and ACP countries (60 %). Gabon realised a gain on each tonne fished of at least 18 euros (14 %). The Commission has also published a working paper on the Agreement setting out DG MARE's supporting the report’s conclusion that it would be in the interest of both Gabon and the European Union to have an early renewal of the protocol thereby avoiding an interruption of fishing activities before the 2016 fishing season.

11. The European Parliament has commenced the consideration of the Commission’s proposal for strengthened measures for the management of Bluefin Tuna, by transposing measures of the multiannual (BFT) recovery plan in the Eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean adopted by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) at its annual meetings between 2012 and 2014. The regulation proposes strengthened technical controls on transfer and caging operations of live BFT, including the use of stereoscopic cameras, new catch reporting requirements, and the implementation of the ICCAT Regional Observer Programme.

12. The European Commission signed an agreement with the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) concerning the willingness of the EU to become a member of the Extended Commission of the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna. The extended Commission will allow the EU to play an effective role in the implementation of the Convention.

13. The United National has adopted a global framework to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030. The new set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals includes a goal to "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources."

14. The European Commission, in collaboration with the Conference of Peripheral Maritime Regions, hosted the conference “Blue Invest - EU support to maritime regions” to promote the financing of blue economy projects by private investors using the EUs financial support mechanisms. Speakers presented examples of how the ESIF, Horizon 2020, and other EU funds, including the European Regional Development Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, can work together with the EIB and the private sector to provide investment for jobs and growth in the blue economy. Participants also shared examples of successful EU-funded projects in different sectors such as renewable energy, aquaculture, biotechnology, and skills and qualifications. Commissioner Karmenu Vella indicated that up to EUR7 billion could be available for investment in the EU’s coastal regions. The Commissioner also announced the launch of an EU project repository, an online database of investment projects (including fisheries and maritime affairs) in which EU finance has made a contribution.

15. Commissioner Vella, responsible for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech at the GLACIER conference in Anchorage, Alaska. He highlighted the strategic importance of the Arctic region, as the Arctic Ocean resources become increasingly accessible, and emphasised the EU's strong commitment to ensuring the region's sustainable development while safeguarding its fragile environment. He indicated that the EU has earmarked 40 million euros for 2016-2017, to promote research in and on the Arctic region.

16. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella visited Washington, United States on 28 and 29 September to meet with Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and NOAA Administrator Ms Sullivan and co-chair of the Senate Ocean Caucus, Senator Whitehouse to discuss ways to improve the sustainable management of ocean resources. In other meetings with the US Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Commissioner Vella reiterated the EU’s commitment to co-operate with the US on environmental policy.

Fish hygiene

17. During September 2015 there were 35 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 4 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 24 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and 1 rapid alert notification for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of razor clams from Ireland, 2 consignments of oysters from France, 2 consignments of frozen shrimp from Vietnam , 2 consignments of dries anchovy from Thailand, and 3 consignments of tuna from Spain.

18. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG Santé has published a report arising from a mission to Thailand in January 2015 to assess the control systems concerning the production of bivalve molluscs and fishery products exported to the EU, and following up on a previous audit in 2011. The mission found that there are a number of important deficiencies in the control which could allow the export to the EU of products. The FVO found inconsistencies in the lists of classified production areas, lack of formal sampling plans and incorrect classification of for production areas, and the certification of Pectinidae for export to the EU which had apparently unsatisfactory E.coli test results. Moreover there were no harvest registration documents completed by producers, thus precluding the ability for the Competent Authority to identify the whole production chain from harvesting. During a visit to a processing establishment, bags of live bivalve molluscs were found without any identification. The FVO considered that these deficiencies represented a potential risk to public health in products imported into the EU, and sought written guarantees in the form of a plan of corrective actions from the Thai Competent Authority, the Department of Fisheries.

19. Following a consultation with all Member States by the European Commission, the Finnish Food Safety Authority EVIRA, has authorised the use of a phospholipid-rich oil extract from Antarctic krill (Euphasia superba) as a novel food ingredient. The authorised use is for fortification of a range of foods such as biscuits, cooking fats and airy analogues with EPA and DHA.

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