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May 2016

Common Fisheries Policy

1. European Parliament calls for regional cooperation on Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries management.
2. Commission announces the start of the 2016 bluefin tuna fishing season under strict control.
3. Commission and UN launch FLUX standard that allows the electronic fishery data
4. EU ratifies Fisheries Partnership Agreement Cook Islands
5. Parliament approved EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement
6. Commission publishes a study on estimation of surplus fish stocks
7. EU adopts protocol under EU-Greenland Fisheries Partnership Agreement
8. Commission publishes a feasibility study on EU ecolabel scheme for fishery products.
9. EU Market Observatory publishes articles sales of herring, sprat, haddock and monkfish
10. Temporary prohibition announced for EU vessels fishing on redfish in NAFO area
11. Commission publishes infographic on Aquaculture in the EU
12. Commission presents ideas on how to develop a more aquaculture production
13. Commission celebrates European Maritime Day in Turku, Finland
14. Commissioner Vella attends meeting of G7 Environment Ministers in Japan

Fish hygiene

15. Rapid alerts were notified for 49 consignments of fishery products
16. DG SANTÉ reports on fish hygiene conditions in Denmark in June 2015
17. Commission recommends on monitoring and management of dioxins and PCBs
18. EU Ministers ask Commission to consider ways to end variation in food quality
19. DG SANTÉ updates webpages on regulation of smoke flavourings

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Parliament adopted a resolution on fisheries in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Noting the heavy and conflict demands on use of coastal resources and the fact that 75% of Mediterranean and Black Sea fish stocks are over-exploited, Parliament called for all littoral states to intensify their efforts to phase out overfishing. It says that there should be a greater degree of political cohesion and cooperation among the coastal states and that there should be a means of peaceful settlement of disputes concerning maritime areas and the delimitation of maritime boundaries. It calls for the Commission and Council to promote coherence through the Common Fisheries Policy and the Integrated Maritime Policy, and to introduce and enhanced system of monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activity.

2. The Commission announced the start of the 2016 bluefin tuna fishing season, from 26 May to 24 June in the Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic. Following advice from ICCAT scientists in 2014, ICCAT has agreed to an increase of 60% of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) over three years (2015, 2016 and 2017). In 2016 this brings the European TAC to 11203 tonnes. The quota is shared between the 8 EU countries actively involved in the Bluefin tuna fishery (Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, Portugal, Malta, and Cyprus), with Spain and France having the largest shares. A strict control and inspection programme is in place coordinated by the European Fisheries Control Agency and the Member States concerned. For the first time, the EU is implementing the eBCD, a new electronic catch document system which makes fraudulent declarations much less likely.

3. The European Commission announced that it has collaborated with the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) on the development of a recently launched open and global standard that allows the electronic exchange of fishery data (the FLUX standard - Fisheries Language for Universal Exchange). The standard will facilitate the timely acquisition and exchange of information on fishing locations, gear used, species and quantity caught, and will allow fisheries management organisations to further integrate electronic log book and trade data systems.

4. The European Council passed a decision ratifying the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Cook Islands and of the Protocol and has delegated power for its signature. The Agreement will provide access to the Cook Islands EEZ for four EU tuna purse seine vessels during a four -year period, with a reference catch of 7,000 tonnes per year. The EU will provide EUR2.9 million over this period, which includes an annual amount of EUR350,000 for the implementation of sustainable fisheries policy measures by the Government of Cook Islands. The European Council passed a regulation allocating the fishing opportunities under the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Cook Islands to Spain (3 vessels) and France (1 vessel).

5. The European Parliament gave its approval to the draft decision of the Council on the conclusion of the new two-year protocol to the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership, setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution.

6. The European Commission published a study on the subject of a scientific approach to the estimation of surplus fish, as defined by the UNCLOS, in the design of the fishing opportunities to be included within the three types of Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement signed by the EU with third country coastal states. It recommends that data on surplus stocks should be obtained from recent stocks assessments representing of the current stock status and that surplus estimates would need to be regularly updated (ideally, yearly), according to every new stock assessments and following the enforcement of a management plan. It also notes that the surplus concept is not applicable for Tuna SFPAs, due to the high migratory character of tuna or tuna-like species, and the fact that these stocks are mostly found in areas beyond national jurisdictions.

7. The European Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers adopted a decision on the conclusion of the protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Government of Denmark and the Home Rule Government of Greenland. The protocol has been applied on provisional basis since 1 January 2016. The Commission is authorised to negotiate adjustments to the fishing possibilities, support measures and conservation measures within the limits of the Agreement.

8. DG MARE of the European Commission published a feasibility study by consultants on options for regulating an EU ecolabel scheme for fishery and aquaculture products. The study maps the use of eco-labelling and their impacts, reports the results of a public stakeholder consultation and describes the potential role of public bodies. The study identified problems of proliferation, inconsistency, verification and costs. The report finds no evidence of explicit market failures or regulatory gaps when it comes to eco-labelling of fisheries and aquaculture products. Nor does it find such ecolabels to be fundamentally different from those in other sectors such as wood or palm oil, where eco-labels remain private market-based instruments. It considers three options for regulation; the status quo, a set of set of minimum criteria intended to improve clarity, and a formal EU ecolabel for fishery and aquaculture products. It recommends against this latter option, on the grounds that it would not result in cost savings amongst stakeholders and would replace other labels that are now well established. The Commission prepared and submitted a formal report to the European Parliament and the Council on options for an EU eco-label scheme for fishery and aquaculture products, based on the findings of the above study, and reflecting the recommendations.

9. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2016, containing articles on first sales of herring and sprat in Latvia and haddock and monkfish in the UK; the EU trade in 2015 and consumption of fresh anchovy and smoked mackerel.

10. The Commission announced a temporary prohibition of fishing notice has been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by European vessels fishing for redfish in NAFO 3M area.

11. The European Commission DG MARE has published a new infographic on “Aquaculture in the EU Tapping into Blue Growth”. It sets out the priority for aquaculture development in the reformed CFP, covering issues such as simplification of procedures, coordinated spatial planning, measures for improved competitiveness and EMFF funding for investment.

12. In a joint event with the Dutch Presidency of the Council on 24 May, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella presented the Commission’s view of what is required to develop a more sustainable aquaculture sector in the EU. The Commissioner launched "EU Aquaculture online", a one-stop-shop information source for businesses on EU rules and Member State's strategic priorities to encourage investment in the sector. The Commission also promoted the adoption of the 2013 Communication from the Commission of the Strategic Guidelines for the sustainable development of EU aquaculture, compatible with environmental protection under the Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

13. The European Commission celebrated European Maritime Day with an event in in Turku, Finland, on 18 and 19 May, and holding a conference entitled "Investing in smart and sustainable solutions for competitive Blue Growth" and focussing on unlocking investment in the blue economy. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "The EU is in the lead on several blue economy technologies, such as renewable energy or clean shipping”. Commissioner Vella also participated in a roundtable discussion with maritime industry CEOs on blue growth and spoke at the Ministerial Session of the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission. During the month of May European Maritime Day supported another 30 events throughout the EU in the form of workshops, open door days at museums or aquaria, school projects etc.

14. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella attended the meeting of G7 Environment Ministers in Japan, where he discussed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, resource efficiency, biodiversity and action to tackle climate change. Commissioner Vella also met with Japan's Environment Minister Ms Tamayo Marukawa and the State Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Mr Ken Saito.

Fish hygiene

15. During May 2016, there were 49 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 4 rapid alert notification for cephalopod products, 3 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 33 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of chilled pacific giant squid, 9 consignments of swordfish, and 4 consignments of tuna from Spain, 2 consignments of mussels and 2 consignments of clams from Italy and 2 consignments of live clams from Tunisia.

16. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ published its report on an audit mission to Denmark in June 2015, to assess the sanitary controls on fish and fishery products. The mission found that controls are generally implemented in line with Union requirements. However, a number of deficiencies were noted in establishments visited, including risk of contamination with stagnant water in one establishment, an incomplete HACCP plan in another, and lack of histamine own checks in another. Deficiencies in official checks on the operators' control of parasites indicated that fishery products may have reached the market with insufficient treatment to kill viable parasites. It was also noted that for the use of food additives, officials over-relied on statements and declarations provided by fishery business operators without verifying actual compliance. The Competent Authority, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, provided guarantees to the Commission that the observed deficiencies would be corrected.

17. The European Commission DG SANTÉ made recommendations to EU Member States on the monitoring and management of dioxins and PCBs in fish and fishery products from the Baltic region. Derogations to maximum levels of these substances in certain species of Baltic fish are provided to Finland, Sweden and Latvia for products placed on their domestic market and intended for consumption in their territory. The Commission has therefore developed a list of fish species and products (such as liver) from the Baltic region, for which non-compliance can be expected and which should therefore be subject to more detailed monitoring and controls to ensure that they are not marketed outside these countries. The recommendation sets out the sampling protocols, and detailed risk management measures which should be adopted.

18. The European Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers discussed the issue of food sold in the common market of the European Union under the same trademark but presenting differences in its content and quality in individual Member States. It requested the Commission to consider initiatives that would put an end to these practices.

19. The European Commission DG SANTÉ updated its webpages in relation flavourings and certain food ingredients. It sets out the current positions on the regulation of smoke flavourings, as well as labelling requirements.

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