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April 2016

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Yellow cards for IUU fishing issued to Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad
2. IUU red card lifted from Sri Lanka; further actions threatened against Thailand
3. EU Fisheries Ministers consider regulations on data and technical measures
4. Commission proposes Directive on minimum working conditions for EU fishers
5. Commission sets out strategy for better management of Mediterranean fisheries
6. Commissioner Vella launches international campaign on Mediterranean fisheries
7. Commissioner Vella holds annual structured dialogue with European Parliament
8. CECAF discusses transforming into RFMO and need for better research
9. EU Presidency and Parliament agree on multiannual Bluefin recovery plan
10. Commission reports on EU shark finning regulation; few infringements reported
11. EU and the Senegalese scientists report on implementation of FPA
12. Parties amend fishing opportunities under EU and Morocco FPA
13. EU and Canada sign declaration on IUU fishing; more data sharing
14. Commission publishes study on EU subsidies and fish processing
15. Commission to fund Blue Careers, Blue Laboratories and Blue Technology
16. Romania launches EUR168 million EU fishery subsidy programme
17. EU joins international discussions to regulate fisheries in the Arctic high seas
18. Commission publishes CFP statistical data booklet for 2016
19. Stop fishing notices published for French and Spanish vessels
20. EUMOFA publishes new articles on EU fish markets
21. EUMOFA publishes methodology for analysing EU fish price structures
22. EU Court of Auditors says EUR14.5 billion Baltic clean-up had limited effect
23. EU sets out overall policy on the Arctic region; proposes a Blue Hub
24. EU Sea Change project promotes ‘Ocean Literacy’
25. Commission welcomes UN report on climate change and oceans

Fish hygiene

26. Rapid alerts were notified for 44 consignments of fishery products
27. DG SANTÉ reports on Costa Rica; inspection of fishing vessels deficient
28. EFSA launches project on ciguatoxin food poisoning in the EU
29. Commission and Member States authorise Antarctic Krill extract as a novel food

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission has issued warnings to three countries - Kiribati, Sierra Leone and Trinidad & Tobago – in the form of so-called “yellow cards” indicating they are being considered as potentially non-cooperating countries in the fight against illegal fishing. The EU's warning to Kiribati is based on concerns about the country's capacity to control fishing activities by foreign fleets. In the case of Sierra Leone legal texts governing fisheries are outdated and fail to deter illegal operators operating internationally under the flag of Sierra Leone. Trinidad and Tobago fails to control its fleet operating internationally, and its authorities do not control or inspect foreign vessels.

2. The Commission removed the red card and associated trade measures imposed in 2015 on Sri Lanka, as it is considered to have significantly improved its national fisheries governance. The Commission also indicated that it is evaluating progress by Thailand in implementing agreed actions to address its present yellow card issued due to its inadequate fisheries legal framework and poor monitoring, control and traceability systems. However, the dialogue is proving difficult and there remain serious concerns about the steps taken by Thailand to fight IUU fishing activities. This means that further action by the Commission cannot be ruled out. The parties will hold a meeting in May to discuss progress.

3. The Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers met in Luxembourg on 11th April 2016. The Council took note of the progress made on a draft regulation aimed at aligning the current EU’s data collection framework with the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). It also considered the Commission’s proposal (submitted the proposal on 11 March 2016) for a draft regulation aimed at simplifying and strengthening technical measures for the conservation of fishery resources and the protection of marine ecosystems. Member states generally considered the Commission’s proposal to provide a good basis for revising the current body of rules.

4. The European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive which aims to improve the working conditions for workers in the fishing sector, following agreement with EU social partners in the fishing sector reached in 2013 to align the EU with "Work in Fishing" Convention 2007 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Once adopted by the Council, this directive will provide for a higher level of protection of EU fishermen. This will include requirements for minimum age, medical certificate, information in the employment contract), working time limits, right of repatriation, accommodation and food and occupational safety and health protection, including medical treatment on board and ashore. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "More than 100,000 people in the EU work in the fisheries industry, often under difficult circumstances at sea. The accident and injury rate can be 15 times higher compared to other sectors. Today's proposal will help to reduce the risks that fishermen face at work.”

5. Commissioner Vella issued a statement setting out the EU’s new approach to the strengthening fisheries management in the Mediterranean. He emphasised the need for cooperation at all levels: international, European, regional and national; the need to manage the socio-economic impacts of conservation measures, especially for small-scale fisheries; involving all stakeholders, including fishermen, scientists and NGOs, in an inclusive bottom-up decision-making process and the need to assist non-EU countries in modernising their fisheries sectors. The Commission will provide guidance on how to make best use of available funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund and the European Neighbourhood Instrument.

6. Commissioner Karmenu Vella presented the new Mediterranean strategy for sustainable fisheries, at the Seafood Expo Global held in Brussels. He called a for concerted action at international level to address over-exploitation. He stated that “all in all, 93% of the fish stocks assessed are over-exploited. This is an environmental but also a social issue, as it represents a clear threat to the way of life of fishing communities around the Mediterranean". He indicated that The EU is willing to take the lead in seeking solutions along with Southern and Eastern Mediterranean neighbours and hosted a meeting with fisheries ministers from countries bordering the Mediterranean to discuss the EU concerns. The conference followed the agreement reached in Catania last February by EU Mediterranean Ministers that urgent action is needed to reverse the decline of fish stocks in the Mediterranean and surmounting pressure on the competitiveness of the fisheries sector. Nineteen out of twenty-two riparian countries were represented, as well as GFCM (General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean), FAO and MEDAC (Mediterranean Advisory Council). Converging views in several key-areas were identified: the need to focus efforts on the stocks that are important for the sector's viability and to apply targeted and proportionate measures; the need to improve scientific cooperation, support small-scale fisheries and fight illegal fishing; and the need for solidarity between countries when it comes to shouldering the additional burden of modernisation and control. Mr. Vella also met with the Secretary General at the Moroccan Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, President of European fisheries association Europêche and the Director General of WWF International to launch the EU’s Mediterranean fisheries strategy (termed Medfish4Ever), held at the European Seafood Exhibition in Brussels. He also visited Algeria to discuss the need for a common strategy for the management of Mediterranean Sea fish stocks.

7. Mr Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, held his annual "Structured Dialogue", with the European Parliament's Fisheries Committee. The purpose of the exercise is to exchange views on current issues. Key items for the agenda were the implementation of the new landing obligation and the adoption of the long term plan for Baltic fisheries. The Commissioner also presented the Commission’s agenda for strengthening fisheries management in the Mediterranean, ahead of Mr.Vella’s launch of a diplomatic initiative in countries within the region.

8. The 21st Session of the Fishery Committee for the Central Eastern Atlantic (CECAF) was held in Dakar, Senegal from 20 to 22 April 2016 with the participation of 23 Member countries, including the European Union, as well as observers from different regional and sub-regional fisheries organisations, cooperation agencies and NGOs. CECAF is a consultative body under Article VI of the FAO Constitution. The CECAF Secretariat committed to draft an action plan addressing the recommendations of the 2011 performance review and to find ways to ensure regular meetings (the Committee had last met in March 2012). Members also discussed the option of transforming CECAF into a regional fisheries management organisation. The members recognised the need to improve research and data collection in the region, harmonise the presentation of scientific advice and enhance the dialogue between scientists and managers. CECAF will take the lead in coordinating and fixing priorities for the scientific surveys and research programmes carried out under the Ecosystem Approach for Fisheries (EAF)-Nansen Programme.

9. The Netherlands Presidency and European Parliament representatives agreed in principle on the content of a new regulation on a multiannual recovery plan for Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The regulation will set out the EU’s multi-annual measures for the implementation of the Bluefin tuna recovery plan agreed by the contracting parties of ICCAT at its annual meetings between 2012 and 2014. The regulation also repeals the previous plan set out in Regulation (EC) No 302/2009.

10. The European Commission adopted a report on the implementation of the EU’s shark finning Regulation. Based on information provided by EU Member States, the report concludes that no systematic shark finning – the removal of fins and the discarding of the carcasses at sea – is taking place in EU waters or by EU vessels. The Regulation was amended in 2013 to introduce a stricter “fins-naturally attached” policy that prohibits all EU vessels and all vessels fishing in EU waters from removing sharks’ fins on board prior to landing the fish. Only a few minor infringements were identified by Member States during their inspections.

11. The European Commission published the annual report of the Joint Scientific Committee of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement signed between the EU and the Senegal. The joint report by DG MARE and the Centre de Recherches Océanographiques, Dakar report sets out for each class of fishing opportunities, the level of utilisation, effort, catches, and stock status. The report includes, for the first time, data on the hake component of the Agreement.

12. The Commission adopted a decision to amend to the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco concerning the number and tonnage of EU longliners and changes to the permitted catch tonnages of sardine-sardinella and horse mackerel/ mackerel/anchovies by industrial vessels, to account for changes in utilisation and catch rates.

13. The EU and Canada signed a Joint Declaration on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The declaration was signed by Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, and the Canadian Minister of Fisheries Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Hunter Tootoo. The agreement will commit Canada and the EU to strengthen monitoring and compliance measures, and to exchange information on suspected and proven cases of non-compliance.

14. The Commission has published a study entitled “The European Fisheries Fund and the EU Fish Processing Industry: An Economic Analysis” which sets out an analysis of the impacts of the EU subsidies paid under the European Fisheries Fund during 2007 to 2013 to boost fish processing and marketing. These funds accounted for 17% of the EUR4.3 billion in subsidies paid to the EU fisheries sector. The study concluded that in 2012, the EU fish-processing sector generated approximately EUR 6.4 billion of Gross Value Added (GVA) 6 % of the GVA created by the whole food industry, almost twice the GVA of the fishing fleet and five times that of aquaculture. In most EU Member States, this sector contributes between 50 % to more than 90 % of the value added of the fisheries industry. Only in Italy and Portugal has the financial aid for fish processing been higher than that for the rest of the industry, when averaged by GVA. The study is based in the based on the 2014 Annual Economic Report of the STECF.

15. The European Commission issued a call for proposals for funding under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to help boost skills, creativity and technology and remove bottlenecks in boosting the blue economy. The calls covers Blue Careers (EUR3.45 million) to equip job-seekers with useful skills necessary for the marine and maritime economy, Blue Laboratories (EUR1.7 million) to promote innovation and collaboration between young academics, business communities and the public sector to address maritime and marine issues, and the Blue Technology call, the Commission (EUR2.5) million to encourage public-private partnerships for new technology transfer for commercial applications and strategic investment at sea-basin level.

16. The Commission announced that Romania has officially opened fisheries subsidies under the EU's European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) for the period up to 2020. The launch of the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Operational Programme 2014-2020 (POPAM) took place on 21 April in the city of Tulcea in the Danube delta. The event was organised by the Romanian Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, with the support of the Tulcea City Council. The EU will provide subsidies of EUR168 million to increase production in fish farming and processing, preserve biodiversity and ensure environmental protection, and to maintain and create jobs, particularly in the fishing sector.

17. The European Union participated in the first round of international negotiations on measures to prevent unregulated fisheries in the Arctic high seas, which took place between 19 and 21 April in Washington DC. At present most of the Arctic high seas are not covered by international conservation or management regimes and the intention is to negotiate an agreement that would prevent the opening up of unregulated fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean.

18. The Commission DG MARE has published its 2016 edition of the Common Fisheries Policy Basic statistical data booklet, addressing the status of EU fish stocks, the EU fishing fleet, employment, fisheries and aquaculture production, external trade, consumption and EU support for the fishery sector.

19. Stop fishing notice were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by French vessels fishing for red seabream and anglerfish and Spanish vessels fishing for white and blue marlin in the Atlantic Ocean.

20. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2016, containing articles on sales of scallop and whiting in France, and Cod and Greenland halibut in Norway. It also presents a case study on China's role in seafood trade and processing, and a review of EU consumption of fresh sole and hake.

21. The EUMOFA has developed a methodological approach for analysing price structure in the EU supply chain. This sets out guidelines covering issues such as species identification, dealing with level of processing and its influence on price structure, conversion tables from live weight to final product weight, market structures and levels, market segmentation, seasonality and other drivers of price levels.

22. A report from the European Court of Auditors has assessed the impacts of EU actions to cut nutrient pollution in the Baltic Sea. Between 2007 and 2013, the EU contributed €4.6 billion to waste-water collection and treatment projects in five Member States bordering the Baltic. Rural development measures in all eight Baltic Member States bordering the Baltic, including water protection, amounted to a further €9.9 billion. In addition, from 2001 to 2014, the EU co-financed projects with a value of nearly €50 million in Russia and Belarus to improve water quality. However, the measures have had only a limited effect. The auditors found that Member States’ plans lack ambition and appropriate indicators. Investment in waste-water infrastructure has been only partly effective, agricultural measures do not match up to the scale of the problem and the added value of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea is difficult to assess. The auditors make a number of recommendations for the Member States and for the European Commission. These include requiring the Member States to designate appropriate nitrate-vulnerable zones, assess compliance with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive more quickly, and promote projects to reduce the nutrient load being discharged into the Baltic from Russia and Belarus.

23. The High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission adopted a policy proposal that will guide the actions of the European Union in the Arctic region. The European Union will step up its existing action and engagement in the region with 39 actions focussing on climate change, environmental protection, sustainable development and international cooperation. The Commission’s JRC has also developed advanced tools for monitoring of spatial and temporal developments in ship traffic and activities at sea using data from ship reporting systems and satellites to study and anticipate changes in maritime traffic and a proposed “Blue Hub for the Arctic” will characterise human activities in the zone and to discover their trends, to support operational authorities and policy makers.

24. The EU funded Sea Change project (www.seachangeproject.eu) held a stakeholder meeting to discuss how to promote ‘Ocean Literacy’ in the European education system. Sea Change is an EU-funded Horizon 2020 project which aims to create a fundamental change in the way European citizens view their relationship with the sea. This will empower them, as Ocean Literate citizens to take direct and sustainable action towards a healthy ocean and seas, healthy communities and ultimately a healthy planet. The project is coordinated by The Marine Biological Association (MBA), UK. AquaTT is the project dissemination partner.

25. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, welcomed the consensus reached by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to prepare a special report on climate change and oceans and the cryosphere (frozen bodies of water) during its 43rd session held in Nairobi between 11th and 13th April. The report sets out the ocean impacts of climate change; melting ice is raising the sea-level, higher temperatures are affecting ecosystems such as the distribution of commercial fish stocks and the increasing acidity is threatening species such as corals and shellfish, including those used for human consumption.

Fish hygiene

26. During April 2016 there were 44 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notification for gastropod products, 4 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 31 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products. These included 3 consignments of live oysters from France, 2 consignments of live clams from Tunisia , 5 consignments of swordfish from Spain , 2 consignments of silver scabbardfish from Morocco and 2 consignments of mako shark from South Africa.

27. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ has reported on a mission to Costa Rica from 25 January 2016 to 04 February 2016 in order to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that that improvements have been made since the last audit and that the recommendations concerning fishery products have been addressed in a satisfactory way, except for inspection of fishing vessels and lack of physical or identity checks on consignments before signing of health certificates. The Competent Authority has subsequently guaranteed to implement a plan of corrective actions.

28. The European Food Safety Authority, and six Member States have launched a four-year project on ciguatoxin food poisoning in the EU. The project reflects concern over outbreaks since 2008 of ciguatoxin food poisoning in the Canary Islands and Madeira and new findings suggesting that the causal agent (a toxin produced by marine micro-algae which produces gastrointestinal and neurological effects) is becoming more widespread in the Mediterranean. The project will carry out a risk characterisation to identify the level of risk and species and regions most at risk).

29. The Commission and Member States agreed to authorise an extension of use of lipid extract from Antarctic Krill (Euphausia superba) as a novel food ingredient.

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