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December 2015

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Ghanaian Fisheries Minister meets with European Commissioner
2. EU Liberia Fisheries Partnership Agreement approved by EU
3. EU Fisheries Ministers agree 2016 TACs for Atlantic, North Sea and Black Sea
4. Commission brings EU vessels fishing outside Union waters under control
5. Commission publishes 2014-2020fishery expenditure plan; EUR 5.75 billion
6. EU adopts fisheries investment and subsidy packages for six EU countries
7. EU bans criminal fish business operators from subsidies for up to 24 months
8. Commission reports fishery subsidies focus on processing and aquaculture.
9. EU approves fisheries protocol with Mauritania; EUR55 million/year access fee
10. DG MARE publishes poster on its fisheries agreements with third countries
11. EU, Denmark and Greenland signed the new Protocol for Greenland Agreement
12. Three fisheries discard plans adopted for EU waters from 1January 2016
13. Commission allows Italian trawl vessels to keep operating inside 3mile limit
14. Stop fishing notices published for several stocks
15. DG MARE to undertake public consultation on Fisheries Control Regulation
16. Council extends autonomous European Union tariff quotas for fishery products
17. The European Market observatory published a detailed case study on hake prices
18. Commission publishes fish market data; EU consumption 3% down
19. European Market Observatory reports in impacts of Russian fish ban
20. WCPFC annual meeting fails to address overfishing of bigeye tuna in Pacific
21. SEAFO sets new TACS for Patagonian Toothfish and Deep-sea Red Crabs
22. Council approves EU membership of Southern Bluefin Tuna Convention
23. FAO seeks applications for Executive Secretary of the IOTC
24. EU to host open conference on economic advice in fisheries management
25. Commissioner Karmenu Vella attended the Oceans Day conference in Paris
26. Commission to support projects "closing the loop" of product lifecycles
27. Court of Auditors approves accounts of European Fisheries Control Agency
28. European Border and Coast Guard to link to European Fisheries Control Agency

Fish hygiene

29. Rapid alerts were notified for 33 consignments of fishery products
30. EU survey finds 6% of fish mis-labelled; Malta and Latvia worst offenders
31. New bivalve sampling and testing protocols for E. coli detection
32. Safeguard measures on Bangladeshi shrimp lifted following FVO mission
33. EFSA investigates heat inactivation of viruses in bivalve molluscs
34. EU approves import of aquaculture products from Armenia, Kenya and Myanmar
35. Lists of approved establishments in EU countries to be based on TRACES
36. European Court of Auditors approves annual accounts of EFSA
37. EFSA announces increased EU food poisoning due to listeria and campylobacter

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Mr.Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner in charge of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries received a visit from the Ghanaian Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mrs.Sherry Ayittey. Commissioner Vella stated that he is “convinced that Ghana and the EU can work together more closely to shape ocean governance more broadly. Ghana could be one of our key West African partners in our push for more sustainable fisheries and better ocean governance”. On her part, Mrs.Ayittey stated claimed that the EU’s IUU yellow card (which was lifted by the Commission in October 2015) had cost Ghana US$100 million over two years. Until now Ghana has never entered into a Fisheries Partnership Agreement with the EU.

2. The European Council approved the signing of the EU Liberia Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and the implementation of the Protocol. The five-year Protocol sets out the fishing opportunities for 28 EU tuna purse seine vessels and 6 surface long-liners, in return for a financial package of EUR 3.25 million over the period of the Protocol. The Council passed a regulation allocating the fishing opportunities under the EU’s Agreement with Liberia to Spain and France.

3. At the Meeting of the EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Brussels, on 14th and 15th December 2015, the Council decided on the fishing opportunities for 2016 in the Atlantic, North Sea and Black Sea. The decision determines the indicative Total Allowable Catches and quotas or all species subject to management. The limits were set taking into account the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) target to have all stocks fished at sustainable levels by 2020 at the latest. The Commission claimed that the decision will bring 36 stocks to Maximum Sustainable Yield in the North Sea, the Atlantic and the Baltic Sea and will allow all stocks to be fished at sustainable levels within the next two years.

4. The European Commission proposed new rules to improve transparency and monitoring of EU fleets fishing outside Union waters and third country vessels fishing in the EU’s own waters. Vessels flagged by EU Member States which wish to fish outside EU waters (under any regime, including high seas) will need to be previously authorised by their flag Member State. To obtain authorisation, they will have to show that they have an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number, possess a valid fishing license, and have not been found guilty of any infringements.

5. The European Commission published a Communication setting out the expenditure plans for the EU's five European Structural and Investment Funds during the period 2014-2020, including the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). New elements for the funding period 2014-2020 include simplified procedures. Under the EMFF subsidies totalling EUR 5.75 billion will help to implement the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP). Twenty-seven operational programmes have now been adopted, one for each participating Member State (Luxembourg has opted out of the EMFF).

6. The EU has adopted a number of investment subsidy packages from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) in favour of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors of several EU countries, during the period 2014-2020. Portugal’s programme is for 0.5 billion, which includes a subsidy of EUR 392 million. The UK package is worth EUR 310 million, of which EUR 245 million will be subsidised from EC funds; Belgium fishery sector will receive a EUR68.6 million investment package which includes a EMFF subsidy of EUR41.7 million; France’s package is valued at EUR774 million with the EMFF contributing EUR587 million; the Hungarian fisheries and aquaculture operators receive EUR52 million, including an EU subsidy of EUR39 million; Irish fisheries and aquaculture operators, receive EUR239 million, with EUR147 million from the EMFF. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said that the subsidies “will allow fishermen and fish farmers to face the future with confidence”.

7. The Commission passed a regulation amending the period of inadmissibility of applications for support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund when fisheries business operators commit serious infringements, offences or fraud. The periods are increased to either 12 or 24 months, depending on the serious of the offence, and may be extended further if additional offences are committed.

8. The European Commission published the 8th Annual Report on the Implementation of the European Fisheries Fund (EFF), covering EFF implementation in 2014 and up to May 2015. The report indicates that Member States are concentrating their subsidies on processing and aquaculture measures while support for fleet measures (permanent and temporary cessation in particular) has gradually decreased. Support for the 'sustainable development of fishery areas' has increased significantly.

9. The EU Council approved the Protocol to the fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania for a period of four years. The Council subsequently published a regulation allocating the fishing opportunities under the Agreement. Pelagic, demersal and tuna fishing opportunities will be allocated to Spain, France, Portugal, Germany, France Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, United Kingdom and Ireland. The annual financial contribution of the EU will be EUR55 million, with an additional EUR16.5 million over the four years of the protocol to support the implementation of a sustainable fisheries policy by the government of Mauritania.

10. The European Commission DG MARE published a poster on its fisheries agreements with third countries, comprising bilateral agreements, current Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements and a number which have lapsed. The poster sets out the value and impacts of the agreements in terms of fisheries access, quantities and values of fish generated.

11. The Commission indicated that on 27th November 2015 the European Union and Denmark and Greenland signed the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution under their Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The Protocol applies provisionally from 1 January 2016.

12. The European Commission has adopted a three fisheries discard plans, respectively for fisheries in the EU’s north-western waters, south-western waters and the North Sea. The measures follow agreements between the Member states directly concerned in each fishery, and consultations with the relevant Advisory Councils. The discard plans apply the landing obligation to the all fisheries in each region from 1 January 2016, except for those where there is an exemption provided (mostly in relation to fisheries for Norway lobster. A number of fisheries are also subject to de minimis derogations which allow a small quantity of discarding, due to the excessive costs involved in retention on board. Member States are required to submit lists of their vessels which are subject to the obligation to the Commission

13. The Commission renewed the derogation applied to a small fleet of 117 Italian coastal trawl vessels fishing for goby, which allows them to fish using of towed gears within 3 nautical miles of the coast or within the 50 m isobaths.

14. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Spanish vessels fishing for greater forkbeard and Greenland halibut, Portuguese vessels fishing for mackerel and cod, Belgian vessels fishing for skates and rays and cod, French vessels fishing for plaice and ling.

15. The European Commission has announced that it will undertake an evaluation of the EU’s Fisheries Control Regulation (it has now been in operation for five years) and has accordingly launched a public consultation. Members of the public and interested organisations are invited to submit comments on the impacts of the Regulation and in particular on whether the regulation is an effective and suitable means to achieve the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy. Contributions are to be submitted online by the 13th March 2016.

16. The Council passed a regulation extending the autonomous European Union tariff quotas for which import duties are reduced or suspended for certain fishery products, for a further period up to the end of 2018. The measures will ensure an adequate supply of fishery products to the EU processing industry and are applied to a wide range of fishery products (such as cod, shrimp anchovy, herring, hake, tuna loins for canning, Alaskan pollack, surimi etc.)

17. The European Market observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture products (EUMOFA) published a detailed case study “Price transmission in the supply chain for fresh hake in Spain”. The study investigated the influence of third country imports on the Spanish market and analysed costs and margins at different points in the distribution chain.

18. The European Commission published the 2015 edition of "The EU fish market” setting out EU production, export, import data for 2013. The document provides a user friendly snapshot of the European fisheries and aquaculture industry in 2015, available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The EU is confirmed as a major seafood consumption market with household expenditures of EUR 54,7 billion in 2013. This marked a 1% increase over 2012. However, apparent consumption per capita for 2012 was 23,9 kg, a 3% decrease from 2011 and much lower than the 2008 peak of 26 kg.

19. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture has published its latest edition, with articles on markets for flounder and smelt in Latvia, and lobster and squid in the UK. The edition also features a case study on the impacts of the Russian ban on fishery imports from the EU, and a study on EU consumption of mackerel and trout.

20. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) held its 12th plenary session in Bali, Indonesia. Discussions focused on management measures for various tuna species as well as sharks. The EU’s proposal for strengthened management measure on tropical tuna to address overfishing of bigeye tuna was not adopted due to conflicting positions between purse seine and the long line fishery operators. Members did however adopt a harvest strategy work plan for all tuna species but bluefin tuna, as well as target reference points for skipjack tuna.

21. The South-East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation held its annual meeting in Swakopmund, Namibia, from 30th November to 4th December. The regional system of Observation, Inspection, Compliance and Enforcement was updated and the Scientific Committee recommendations, regarding TAC of Patagonian Toothfish and Deep-sea Red Crabs were accepted. SEAFO also adopted a list of vessels associated with Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.

22. The EU Council passed the formal decision for the EU to become a member of the Extended Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna. The Extended Convention allows membership of Taiwan, and this Council Decision will allow the EU to participate fully in management decisions regarding Southern Bluefin Tuna.

23. The FAO has published the Vacancy Announcement for the Executive Secretary of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission. The deadline for applications is 11 January 2016.

24. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries has announced that it will host a conference in Malta on 4th /5th February 2016 on the subject of the role of economic advice in fisheries management. More information as well as registration is provided at Participants are also encouraged to submit posters for the conference via the EAFE:

25. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, attended the Oceans Day conference in Paris. The Oceans Day in Paris takes place within the setting of the COP21 international climate negotiations, which took place from 30 November to 11 December. The event aimed to advance the oceans and climate change agenda at COP21 and beyond. It builds on previous Oceans Day events, most recently the World Ocean Day in June.

26. The European Commission adopted a series of measures aimed at generating sustainable economic growth in the EU with a focus on "closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, to bring benefits for both the environment and the economy. The plans will extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing Green House Gas emission. One of the measures adopted is a strategy on plastics in the circular economy, to include a target for significantly reducing marine litter.

27. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) published a report on its accounts by the Court of Auditors. The accounts were found to be a fair record for the year 2014. Comments made by the auditors in previous years had been addressed.

28. The European Commission proposed the establishment of a European Border and Coast Guard to strengthen border controls both on land and at sea, with a major focus on migration and internal security. It will be composed of a newly created European Border and Coast Guard Agency, national authorities and coastguards responsible for border management. A key role is foreseen for the European Fisheries Control Agency, which will contribute to improving border controls by sharing information, assets and intelligence with the European Border and Coast Guard.

Fish hygiene

29. During December 2015 there were 33 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 3 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 27 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod or gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of smoked salmon from Lithuania, 3 consignments of smoked salmon from Denmark, and 3 consignments of chilled and frozen swordfish, 2 consignments of Hake and 2 consignments of tuna fillets from Spain.

30. The European Commission published the results of EU-wide control plans (plus Norway and Switzerland) to assess the prevalence of fraudulent practices in the marketing of fish (and honey). Nearly 4000 samples of 150 different species of fish were collected from all stages of the food production chain, comprising both unprocessed products (62%) and processed products (38%). The survey found that the species declared on the label was correct for 94% of the samples. Non-compliant samples were slightly more frequent at border inspection posts, and at retail and mass caterers level than at markets, traders, cold stores and processing establishments. The most common non-compliances were detected in grouper (Epinephelus spp.) and Common sole (Solea solea). However 27% of samples from Malta and 16% from Latvia were labelled incorrectly.

31. The Commission has amended the sampling and testing protocols for the classification of bivalve production areas, following a decision by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to revise standard methods for the sampling and testing for E. coli. The Codex Alimentarius three-class plan approach is considered to be more likely to detect non-compliant batches, particularly as contamination levels approach the regulatory limit. The Codex Alimentarius approach for end-product testing is considered scientifically more precise and it offers on average broadly equivalent health protection.

32. The Commission has lifted the safeguard measures applied to the import of crustaceans from Bangladesh. These measures were first installed in 2008, following the detection of residues of veterinary medicinal products and unauthorised substances in shrimp imported from Bangladesh, and required consignments to be accompanied by the results of an analytical test carried out at the place of origin to ensure that they do not present a danger to human health. A recent audit by the Food and Veterinary Office of the Commission carried out in April 2015 concluded that the system in place for residues controls in aquaculture in Bangladesh now offers guarantees equivalent to the requirements laid down in Union legislation, and that since the number of non-compliant consignments has decreased significantly, the safeguard measure could be lifted without risk to human health.

33. The European Food Safety Authority has evaluated possible alternatives to the current heat treatments of molluscs required by EU legislation before they are placed on the market. Bivalve molluscs, such as mussels, oysters and clams can be a source of Norovirus and Hepatitis A infections in humans, and a time-temperature combinations equivalent to the exposure of molluscs to a heat treatment of 90°C for 90 seconds is considered sufficient to reduce virus numbers to an acceptable level. However, the level of virus reduction will also depend on the heat-up and cool-down time. The data can be used by risk managers to define the appropriate level of public protection.

34. The Commission and Member States agreed on the recognition of the residue monitoring plans for aquaculture products submitted by several third countries (Armenia, Kenya and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar) wishing to export such products to the EU. EU legislation will be amended accordingly.

35. The Commission has passed an implementing regulation, extending the time for Member States to revise the way in which they generate publically available lists of approved establishments on their national websites. Integrating these data with Commission information technology tools has proved to be too difficult for some Member States, and the Commission has authorised the use of the EU TRACES system (TRAde Control and Expert System) as an alternative platform.

36. The European Court of Auditors reported on the annual accounts of the European Food Safety Authority for the financial year 2014. In the Court’s opinion, the transactions underlying the annual accounts are considered to be legal and regular in all material respects.

37. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) issued a statement indicating that human infections with listeria and campylobacter rose once again in 2014, continuing an upward trend that began in 2008. Salmonellosis cases increased slightly for the first time since 2008.

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