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February 2016

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers approve 2016 TACs and quotas regulation; 36 EU stocks at MSY
2. Commissioner Vella presents draft regulation on stronger management of EU external fishing
3. Dutch Presidency presents programme on agriculture and fisheries; focus on “Food of the future”.
4. EU to lead approach to ending overfishing in the Mediterranean
5. DG MARE, Spain and Portugal discuss management of Iberian sardine stock
6. EU Parliament studies Adriatic clam fisheries; recommends no change in minimum size
7. MoU on shark conservation earmarks 22 additional shark and ray species for conservation
8. South Pacific RFMO agrees TAC and quota for jack mackerel and new compliance measures
9. EU amends rules regarding transhipments and port state controls in line with NEAFC decision
10. Commission amends derogations to landing obligation for tunas in ICCAT convention area
11. UK celebrates launch of EUR243 million EU fishery subsidy scheme
12. Commission launches public consultation on European Fisheries Fund
13. Commission promotes EUR6.4 billion EU fisheries subsidy fund
14. European Economic and Social Committee says Greece should get more structural funds
15. DG MARE publishes evaluation of EU-Mauritius FPA; EU losses of EUR2.2 million over 2 years
16. DG MARE publishes a study of the European (EU) distant tuna fleet
17. Commission published an updated list of designated ports under IUU regulation
18. EUMOFA launches 24-language market data website
19. EUMOFA publishes articles on brill, plaice, mussels, saithe, and Norwegian fisheries.
20. European Parliament publishes report on EU’s penalty point fisheries infringements
21. Commission organises seminar on first experiences with the landing obligation
22. Three new Advisory Councils launched for Aquaculture, Markets and the Black Sea
23. The EU DISCATCH Project reports on Mediterranean discards
24. Commission reforms Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries
25. Commission publishes report and poster on economics of EU fishing fleet
26. Launch of International Fisheries Transparency Initiative

Fish hygiene

27. Rapid alerts were notified for 43 consignments of fishery products
28. Commission discusses RASFF notifications on mercury in fish meal from Mauritius.
29. Commission to propose an increase in maximum level for mercury in fish for petfood
30. Commission to approve new national fish disease controls in Finland, Ireland, Sweden and UK
31. EFSA concludes feed additive enzyme RONOZYME® HiPhos is safe as fish feed additive

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Ministers approved Council Regulation adopting the 2016 TACs and quotas for EU fish stocks under management and fishing opportunities in the zones of Greenland, Faroe Islands and Norway. The agreed TACs mean that 32 fisheries Western Atlantic and 4 Baltic stocks will now be fished in line within maximum sustainable yield (MSY). TACS were also set such that a number of other stocks levels are expected to achieve MSY in 2017 or 2018. DG MARE published a poster listing the 36 EU fisheries in the Atlantic, North Sea and Baltic Sea which are now exploited in line with maximum sustainable yield (MSY).

2. Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella presented a proposal to EU Fisheries Ministers on the Council of the European Union on new measures for the sustainable management of external fishing fleets. The proposed Regulation sets up a new system to grant and manage fishing authorisations, allowing authorities to better monitor both EU vessels fishing outside Union waters and international vessels fishing in EU waters. To obtain a fishing authorisation, vessels will have to show that they comply with a number of criteria, including that that they have an International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number and a valid fishing license, and have not been found guilty of infringements. Member states supported the contribution the proposal could make in combatting illegal fisheries. However, several Member States expressed concerns regarding the administrative burden the proposal might entail.

3. The European Council of Agricultural and Fisheries Ministers held a meeting at which the Dutch Presidency presented its work programme and priorities in the areas of agriculture and fisheries, with a focus on “Food of the future”.

4. The European Commission and the Mediterranean Advisory Council (MEDAC) organised a seminar for key decision makers and stakeholders to discuss approaches to ending overfishing in the Mediterranean. The plan is that once EU Member States have agreed on an approach and committed themselves to cooperate within the EU, the intention is to bring neighbouring countries on board within the international setting of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean, GFCM. Mr. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said that "The EU should lead the way by example”.

5. The Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the European Commission, met with fisheries officials of Spain and Portugal to discuss management measures for the recovery of the Iberian sardine stock which is at historically low levels. In the past Spain and Portugal have implemented a joint management plan limiting annual catches of sardines.

6. The Directorate General for Internal Policies of the European Parliament published a report on the Clam Fisheries Sector in the EU, with a focus on the case of the Adriatic Sea. The report, conducted on behalf of the Fisheries Committee, indicates that harvesting in the Adriatic Sea clam fishery shows a declining trend and that there is interest in reducing the minimum landing size in order to allow higher levels of landings to reduce the socioeconomic impact. However, the study concludes that given uncertainties on biological parameters of the stock a reduction of the minimum landing size would not be in agreement with the precautionary approach, and is therefore not advisable.

7. The Signatories of the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (including the EU) held a meeting in Costa Rica, at which they agreed to include 22 additional shark and ray species under the MoU, reflecting the need to strengthen measures to improve or restore a favourable conservation status of these sharks. The species included five sawfish species, two species of manta rays, nine mobula ray species, silky sharks, two species of hammerhead sharks, and three thresher shark species. Portugal also became the 40th Signatory to the Sharks MoU.

8. The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) held its annual meeting in Valdivia, Chile, at which it adopted some new conservation and enforcement measures. These included setting a total allowable catch for jack mackerel in 2016 of 460,000 tonnes, in line with the recommended limit of the Scientific Committee. The EU's share of 28,100 tonnes was also confirmed. Several conservation measures were adopted to regulate deep sea fishing and new exploratory fisheries in the region. The SPRFMO also strengthened its monitoring and compliance functions. For the first time, it carried out a compliance review of its members against their obligations. A Russian flagged vessel was added to the Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing vessel list, which also contains another Russian and a Peruvian flagged vessel.

9. The EU amended its regulation governing the control and enforcement regime applicable in the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Convention (NEAFC) area. The regulation brings the EU into line with NEAFC decisions to strengthen rules regarding transhipments and port state controls.

10. The Commission amended the application of the rules requiring the landing of all catches in respect of tunas, by extending an existing derogation within the ICCAT convention area from bigeye tunas only, to include yellowfin tuna. The measure also harmonises derogations for the landing obligation in respect of bluefin tuna below a certain defined size and extends the derogation for swordfish to the whole Atlantic Ocean.

11. The UK’s Marine Management Organisation held a launch event for the implementation of its fishery subsidy regime under the EU's European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The UK is set to receive EUR243 million of EU funds for the period 2014-2020. Part of the funds will go to help the UK's fleet transition to sustainable and discard-free fisheries, onshore and offshore infrastructure and efficient use of natural resources. Small fishery businesses and Fisheries Local Action Groups or FLAGs) will also receive subsidies.

12. The Commission announced the launch of a public consultation on the effectiveness and efficiency of the European Fisheries Fund. The consultation will also gather public opinion concerning programing of subsidies after 2020. The consultation will be used to provide the basis for future impact assessment of the EMFF after 2020. Contributions are to be submitted before 18.05.2016. by replying to the online questionnaire on the EU Survey website.

13. The Commission has published an overview of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), being one of the five European Structural and Investment Funds providing investment and social subsidies to EU states and business until 2020. The EMFF has available a EUR 6.4 billion budget to support the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in making fisheries and aquaculture more sustainable and profitable, and diversifying local economies for the sustainable development of maritime regions and inland fisheries and aquaculture areas.

14. The European Economic and Social Committee published its opinion on an amendment to the regulation setting up the EU’s structural funds, in respect of Greece (and including the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund - EMFF). Greece has only had limited resources available to implement programmes planned with the support of EU subsidies. The Commission has proposed to increase advance payments on funds already allocated to Greece by 7%, amounting to EUR 1 billion available over 2 years, with the aim of compensating for a lack of liquidity and public resources for investment. A proportion of this increased advance payment will be applicable to fishery sector funding under the EMFF. However, the European Economic and Social Committee opines that the aid does not go far enough and that additional funding is required, not only advances on funding already committed.

15. The European Commission DG MARE published a report by consultants evaluating the 2014-2017 EU-Mauritius Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The study found that the effective cost of access was EUR 975 per tonne caught in 2014 and EUR 999 in 2015, and with almost ¾ of the cost supported by the EU. The Agreement generated negative value added for the EU of EUR1.4 million in 2014 and EUR0.8 million in 2015, but nevertheless the report recommends that a new Protocol should be negotiated between the parties.

16. The European Commission DG MARE published a study analysing the economic dynamics of the European (EU) distant tuna fleet involved fishing in area regulated by Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMO) or through Fisheries Partnership Agreements (FPA – SFPA from 2014) between 2008 and 2013. The study found that the EU external tuna fleet can be split into three segments; seiners (92 vessels in 2013), pole and line vessels (8 in 2013) and longliners (41 vessels in 2013). On average, more than 100,000 tonnes of tuna and other large pelagic species were caught annually through FPAs. However, analysis of the economic performance of the fleet segments was not possible on the basis of available data, although most segments were considered to operate profitably.

17. The European Commission published an updated list of designated ports in EU Member States at which vessels flagged to third countries (non-EU) are permitted to land their catch. The measure comprises part of the EU regime for control of IUU fishing.

18. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA), a market intelligence service of the European Union on fishery and aquaculture, announced that it has launched a new 24-language user-friendly website to deliver updated harmonized market data on the EU fisheries sector, available at:

19. EUMOFA published its latest information bulletin, featuring articles on brill and plaice in Belgium and mussels and saithe and in Denmark; a study on the consumption of plaice and herring and special feature on Norwegian fisheries.

20. The Directorate-General for Internal Policies of the European Parliament published a report on the social and economic impact of the EU’s penalty point system for serious infringements of fisheries laws. The study identifies challenges in relation to the penalty point system and its implementation and reports stakeholder concerns regarding lack of transparency, problems of accountability, and lack of participation. Furthermore, it also suggests that the system impacts disproportionately on smaller vessels and those fishing species with tight quotas or higher risk of bycatch.

21. The European Commission organised a seminar for national and European policymakers, scientists, fishing industry representatives and other stakeholders to discuss first experiences with the implementation of the landing obligation. Speakers focused on lessons learnt and next steps.

22. DG MARE of the Commission announced the launch of three new Advisory Councils, respectively for Aquaculture, Markets and the Black Sea. Advisory Councils are stakeholder-led organisations that provide the Commission and EU countries with recommendations on fisheries management matters. They are composed of representatives from the industry and from other interest groups such as environmental organisations. The addition of the three new Advisory Councils brings the total to 10.

23. The EU DISCATCH Project has published its final report. The Project aimed to analyse catch and discard composition and investigate solutions for limitation and possible elimination of unwanted bycatches in trawl net fisheries in the Mediterranean. One of its outputs was a report on the management options for the discard reduction and the holding of two stakeholder meetings on discard mitigation measures and improvement of selectivity and/or avoidance of potential hot spots of discards.

24. The Commission passed a Decision formally re-establishing the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries, with newly defined terms of reference, rules of operation and membership. The Committee, which has operated since 1993, will comprise between 30 and 35 members, and will assist the Commission in the preparation of legislative proposals, delegated acts or policy initiatives, and monitor the evolution of policy and bring about an exchange of experience and good practise. Members of the group and external experts are entitled to a special allowance of EUR450/day which compensates them for their participation.

25. The Commission published a new document “The EU fishing fleet Trends and economic results” which summarises the key findings of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) “2015 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet”, and provides additional insight on trends in economic performance and the potential drivers of such trends. The Commission published a poster on the Economic Performance of the EU Fishing Fleet.

26. The European Commission participated in the 1st International Conference on the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FITI) held in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The meeting was informed that Mauritania, Indonesia and the Seychelles are among the first countries that have expressed the intention to establish a national transparency reporting mechanism. The Commission supports the aims of the initiative to improve fisheries transparency by providing relevant stakeholders and the public with data on resources management and sustainability of exploitation.

Fish hygiene

27. During February 2016 there were 43 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 17 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 4 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 1 rapid alert notification for crustacean products, 21 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 9 consignments of live mussels and 3 consignments of swordfish loins from Spain, 2 consignments of oysters from France , 5 consignments of live clams from Tunisia, 3 consignments of smoked/gravlax salmon from Netherlands and 2 consignments of Pangasius from Vietnam.

28. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed of the Commission discussed recent RASFF notifications related to the presence of mercury in pet food from Iceland, and in fish meal from Mauritius.

29. The Commission announced the intention to propose an increase in maximum level for mercury in fish, other aquatic animals and products derived thereof for the production of compound feed for dogs, cats, ornamental fish and fur animals. It is proposed to raise the limit from 0.5 mg/kg wet weight to 1.0 mg/kg.

30. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed of the Commission approved a Commission Decision to amend national measures for preventing the introduction of certain aquatic animal diseases into Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

31. The European Food Safety Authority published an opinion regarding the use of the feed additive enzyme RONOZYME® HiPhos as a feed additive for fish. The enzyme is already authorised in the EU for use in poultry and pig feeds. The Panel concludes that the additive is safe for the consumer and the environment.

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