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November 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Council and Member States lose case over IUU jurisdiction with Commission
2. Commission recommends 2016 TACS for the Atlantic and North Sea
3. Commission recommends TACs for Black Sea in 2016, with ban on turbot
4. Council passes regulation TACS for the Baltic Sea for 2016.
5. Commission explains quota top-up compensation for landing obligation
6. EU approves EUR1.2 billion fishery subsidy package for Spain
7. EMFF packages also adopted for Bulgaria, Italy and Romania
8. Commission adjusts Spanish quotas for mackerel due to overfishing in 2010
9. Commission allocates EUR110 million subsidy for promoting EU fish in 2016
10. New regulations on reporting EU subsidy fraud for amounts over EUR10,000
11. EU and Mauritania signed a new fisheries Protocol worth EUR59 million/year
12. EU and Greenland signed a new fisheries Protocol worth EUR16 million/year
13. EU and Guinea-Bissau agree on new protocol
14. EU amends conservation regulations for fishing in the Mediterranean
15. Council amends 2015 TACs for herring, place and sprat
16. Commission reports on EU fleet structural changes
17. Stop fishing notices published for Swedish vessels
18. European Parliament publishes report on EU sardine fishery
19. Commission amends EU vessel monitoring control and surveillance rules
20. Commission adopts Lithuanian action plan on fisheries MCS
21. Commission extends expenditure deadline for fisheries MCS investments
22. ICCAT adopts harvest control rule for Northern Albacore
23. NEAFC sets 2016 management measures
24. EU signs agreement on Southern Bluefin Tuna
25. European Parliament reports on CFP Technical Measures
26. Commission to host conference on economic advice in Fisheries Management
27. New edition of the EU Market Observatory published
28. Mojama de Barbate gets a Protected Geographic Indication of origin.
29. European Parliament publishes study on fisheries of Reunion
30. The Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement to recruit Executive Secretary
31. JRC issues report on alien fish species introduction in inland waters

Fish hygiene

32. Rapid alerts were notified for 50 consignments of fishery products
33. FVO of DG Santé reports on Cuba; deficiencies in non-compliances response
34. Commission extends ban on bivalve molluscs from Peru until 2017

Common Fisheries Policy

1. In an action taken by the Council of the EU against the Commission, the European Court (Grand Chamber) decided that the Commission was within its rights to make a submission on IUU fishing to the International Tribunal for the Law of The Sea, in its consideration of a request for an advisory opinion on IUU fishing submitted by the Sub-Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC). The Council claimed that the Commission was not authorised by it to make such a submission. The action was dismissed and the Council was ordered to pay costs, along with the Member States who led the action (Czech Republic, Greece, Spain, France, Lithuania, Netherlands, Portugal, Finland and the UK).

2. The European Commission published its recommendations for the 2016 TACS and quotas for the Atlantic and North Sea. The proposal is to maintain or increase the fish quotas for 35 stocks, and reduce catches for 28 stocks, taking into account scientific advice received from ICES, with a top-up to compensate fishermen for the extra fish they will have to land to comply with the landing obligation. For some EU stocks already at MSY, such as megrims in the North Sea and horse mackerel in Iberian and Western waters, the Commission proposes to increase TACs. Cod stocks in the Irish Sea and the Celtic Sea, sole stocks in the Irish Sea, Eastern Channel and Bay of Biscay and haddock and cod in the Celtic Sea and West of Scotland, will all face considerable TAC cuts to bring them to MSY levels in future.

3. The Commission has proposed fishing opportunities for 2016 for the Black Sea, applicable to Romania and Bulgaria, based on the recommendations of the Commission's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). The proposal is to maintain the EU autonomous quota for sprat at 11,475 tons for the Black Sea (shared respectively between Bulgaria (70%) and Romania (30 %). For turbot and dogfish, a zero quota is proposed due to the low levels of these stocks.

4. Following the agreement of the Member States, the EU Council has passed a regulation which fixes the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks in the Baltic Sea for 2016.

5. The Commission has published a series of questions and answers on the principles behind the quota top-ups applied for the first time in the 2016 TACs and quota proposals. The idea is that the landing obligation will now require that fish that otherwise would have been discarded will now be landed, and that higher quotas are required to account for this, so as to avoid negative social impacts on fishing communities due to reduced incomes.

6. The EU adopted a EUR1.6 billion investment package for the Spanish fisheries and aquaculture operators, for the period 2014-2020, which includes a subsidy of EUR1.2 billion from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Welcoming the adoption, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said that the subsidies “will allow Spanish fishermen and fish farmers to face the future with confidence”.

7. The EU also approved a EUR113 million investment package for the Bulgarian fisheries and aquaculture sectors, for the period 2014-2020, which will include more than EUR88 million of EU subsidies, a package of EUR978 million for Italy (with an EMFF subsidy of EUR537 million) and one for Romania (EUR224, with an EMFF subsidy of EUR168 million). The funding aims to help limit the impact of fishing activities on the marine environment, enhance its biodiversity, and ensure the balance between fishing capacity and available fishing opportunities. The programmes also aim to support Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs). Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella claimed that the subsidies will lead to “greater security and more opportunities for jobs and sustainable growth”.

8. The Commission passed an implementing regulation to account for further adjustments to the current and future quotas for mackerel allocated to Spain, derived from overfishing of quotas in 2010.

9. The European Commission has announced the availability of new subsidies for advertising fish products from the EU in the rest of the world, to be subsidised by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. These funds will be available to producer organisations, trade organisations and public bodies to sponsor their products and disseminate information about European fisheries products. Calls will be launched early in 2016. A total of EUR110 million has been made available for 2016, with increased amounts in future years.

10. The Commission passed two regulations setting out how Member States should report irregularities to the Commission concerning fraudulent use of EU structural funds, including the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, to allow the Commission to perform financial risk analysis. Suspected frauds are defined and should be reported using a standard format when they are above a defined threshold amount corresponding to an EU contribution of EUR10,000. The detailed format and reporting periods for Member States are also specified.

11. On 16th November, the EU and Mauritania signed a new Protocol to their Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA), which will allow EU vessels to resume their fishing activities in Mauritanian waters. The EU fleet will be allowed to fish in Mauritanian waters for shrimp, demersal fish, tuna and small pelagic fish up to a total of 281,500 tonnes per year. In addition to the license fees paid by the European fleet, the EU will pay a financial contribution of EUR59 million per year to Mauritania, out of which EUR4.1 million will be used to enhance fisheries governance and to support sustainable fisheries. The European Commission has issued a call for independent experts to advise the Joint Committee.

12. The Commission has published a new five year protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Greenland, setting out the fishing opportunities for shrimp, cod, redfish, halibut, capelin and Grenadier. The EU’s financial contribution will be EUR16 million per year, out of which EUR2.9 million will be allocated by Greenland towards the implementation of Greenlandic sectoral fisheries policy.

13. The Commission announced the conclusion of a new protocol under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Guinea-Bissau. The Commission is authorised to negotiate adjustments to the Protocol based on scientific advice regarding the state of the fish stocks concerned.

14. The Council amended the regulation governing fishing in the Mediterranean to account for decisions of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean in relation to the use of Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicles for prospecting for red coral, the mitigation of incidental catches of seabirds, sea turtles, monk seals and cetaceans, protection of sharks and rays, and the management of fishing capacity for small pelagic stocks in certain areas.

15. The Council has also amended the 2015 TACs and quotas regulation for the fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and North Sea, following new scientific advice for herring, place and sprat, all of which are allowed increases in TACs. Following a transfer from Norway, Union vessels will also be allowed to fish an additional 1,500 tonnes of redfish in Norwegian waters.

16. The Commission released its annual report on the EU fishing fleet. On 1 January 2014, 86,879 vessels were registered in the EU fleet register, with an overall capacity of 1,658,033 gross tonnage (GT) and 6,573,806 KW. Compared to 2012, this represents a reduction of 7.8% in the number of vessels, and a reduction of 1.6% in GT and 5.4 % in KW (excluding vessels registered in Croatia and in the outermost regions).

17. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Swedish vessels fishing for cod, Northern prawn and saithe.

18. The European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, has published a study on Sardine Fisheries: Resource Assessment and Social and Economic Situation. The report sets out fisheries, stock status, ICES advice and management measures for the Northern and Southern sardine stocks in EU Atlantic waters. Information on sardine biology and ecology is provided for a better understanding of stock development. Social and economic dimensions are addressed for sardine fisheries in France, Spain and Portugal. The study provides recommendations to improve knowledge on the species and indicates management measures which might be considered for the sustainability of the fisheries.

19. The European Commission passed a regulation setting out changes to the implementation of fisheries control requirements and procedures relating to vessel monitoring control and surveillance. These concern the use of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Ship Identification Number, revised formats for the electronic transmission of vessel monitoring system (VMS) and logbook data, deduction for water or ice in determining weight of pelagic species, and revisions to the GFCM fishing logbook to account for reporting of catches of red coral, incidental by-catch and release of seabirds, monk seals, sea turtles and cetaceans.

20. The European Commission adopted an Action Plan proposed by Lithuania to strengthen the monitoring, control and surveillance of Baltic fisheries. The plan will strengthen Lithuania’s administrative set up, IT systems and human resources for ensuring compliance with EU fisheries legislation by its vessels.

21. The Commission has passed a regulation amending the EU’s financial contribution to Member States fisheries control, inspection and surveillance programmes for 2011, extending the deadline for eligible expenditure until 31 March 2016. Several Member States have informed the Commission in the first half of 2015 that they could not fund their share of the investment due to the financial crisis.

22. The annual meeting (in Malta) of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas adopted a number of important proposals for management of the tuna fisheries. The parties agreed a general framework for the development of harvest control rules and management strategy evaluation, as well as a specific harvest control rule for Northern Albacore. New conservation measures were introduced for porbeagle shark and bigeye tuna. A stock assessment for Mediterranean swordfish is also set in motion, for delivery in 2016, which should lead to the design of effective management measures in future.

23. The 34th Annual Meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) was held in London from 9 to 13 November 2015. The parties decided on the conservation and management measures for the year 2016 for a number of fish stocks. These include redfish in the Irminger Sea and Rockall haddock. Conservation and management measures for the three main pelagic fish stocks, blue whiting, herring and mackerel, was deferred until the coastal states concerned conclude separate consultations.

24. The EU signed an agreement with the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, committing the EU to membership of the Extended Commission, which will implement a range of conservation measures which can accommodate the so-called “fishing entity of Taiwan”.

25. The European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, published a report on a Workshop it organised on the New Technical Measures Framework for the New Common Fisheries Policy. The workshop was held on 13 October 2015, at the European Parliament, Brussels and set out the technical measures to be applied under the reformed CFP in the different fisheries basins of the EU. The workshop concluded that the reformed CFP should reinforce the role of technical measures in protecting the marine ecosystem, but remove the need for them in relation to selectivity and discarding.

26. The European Commission announced that it will organise a conference “Economic Advice in Fisheries Management – A trilogue between science, administration and stakeholders” to be held in Malta on February 4th and 5th 2016. The conference is organised in collaboration with the European Association of Fisheries Economists (EAFE) and the University of Malta. Presentations will be made by leading academics, policy makers and fishery sector organisations. The deadline for poster submissions is 30 November 2015.

27. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture has published its latest edition, containing articles on horse mackerel and sole in Portugal, EU seabass and seabream consumption and the market for ray and turbot in Belgium.

28. The Commission passed a regulation adopting the name Mojama de Barbate (a type of smoked dried tuna, special to Barbate, in Southern Spain) as a Protected Geographic Indication of origin.

29. The European Parliament, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, has published a study on the fisheries of Reunion, one of the EU’s outermost regions, which also includes discussion on the fisheries inter-relationships with Mayotte and Seychelles, as well as the impacts of piracy.

30. The Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) announced that it will recruit an Executive Secretary. The deadline for applications: 15th January 2016.

31. The European Commission’s Joint Research Council issued a report which has identified escapes from aquaculture facilities, and releases in the wild due to pet/aquarium trade and stocking activities as the main pathways of alien species introduction in European lakes and rivers, Germany, the UK and Italy are the main entry gateways. The authors recommend tightened controls, and improved prevention and management measures in order to halt the increasing trend of freshwater alien species introductions in Europe. The JRC’s European Alien Species Information Network (EASIN) inventory currently includes over 750 freshwater species reported as aliens (established or suspected) in European inland waters.

Fish hygiene

32. During November 2015 there were 50 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 6 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 7 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 35 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of mussels from the Netherlands, 4 consignments of chilled swordfish from Spain, 2 consignments of chilled grouper and 2 consignments of chilled John Dory from Tunisia.

33. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG Santé published a report of a mission to Cuba in November 2014, to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that in principle the organisation and implementation of official controls can be considered to be line with EU requirements. However, deficiencies were identified concerning the consistency and depth of inspections, the absence of an obligatory HACCP system for cold-stores and inconsistent follow-up of non-compliances, especially concerning structural deficiencies in establishments. The report addresses a number of recommendations to the competent authority (the Directorate of Quality and Technology under the Ministry of Food Industry), aimed at rectifying identified shortcomings.

34. The Commission extended the ban on the import of bivalve molluscs from Peru, for a further two years until November 2017. The ban was originally put in place in 2008, following an outbreak in the EU of Hepatitis A related to the consumption of bivalve molluscs imported from Peru that were contaminated with Hepatitis A virus (HAV). The extension is put in place since the Peruvian Competent Authority has not yet delivered guarantees that the control system and monitoring plan are able to deliver food safety conditions with respect to bivalve molluscs which at least equivalent to European Union law.

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