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June 2016

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers agree on extended controls for EU’s external fishing fleets
2. EU Fisheries Ministers consider state of stocks and fishing opportunities for 2017
3. Commission publishes communication state of fisheries in the EU
4. General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean adopts new conservation measures
5. Public consultation opens on fisheries in the Western Mediterranean Sea
6. NASCO keeps zero salmon catch for Greenland and Faroes
7. EU Parliament holds workshop on case studies on discard ban and MSY targets
8. Bluefin tuna fishing season closes early due to expiry of quota; no major control issues
9. Political agreement by parties on multi-annual management plan for cod
10. European Parliament approves multi-annual, multi-species plan for Baltic Sea
11. DG MARE presents EMFF operational programmes for 2014-2020; some incomplete
12. Commission publishes annual report on EU fleet capacity
13. Council adopts Protocol to the EU Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement
14. Sri Lanka de-notified as a non-cooperating third countries in fighting IUU fishing
15. UN hosts a one-week conference to review UN Fish Stocks Agreement or UNFSA
16. 2009 Port State Measures Agreement comes into force
17. EU hosts Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting; effort reductions for yellow fin tuna
18. New RFMO to be formed in Western Central Atlantic
19. Commission publishes guidelines on professional fishery and aquaculture organisations
20. EUMOFA publishes latest edition
21. EU Parliament publishes report on small-scale fisheries markets
22. Commissioner Vella attends blue economy event in Green Week
23. Commission updates webpage on organisation of the market for fishery products
24. EU Council amended the 2016 TACS and quotas for sandeel and anchovy
25. “Conwy mussel” becomes a protected designation of origin.
26. SEAFO to recruit an Executive Director.
27. The EU AqUAEXCEL2020 project offers use of aquaculture research facilities
28. Commissioner Vella promotes MEDFISH4EVER Campaign to GFCM
29. DG MARE published poster on the EU’s small scale coastal fishing fleets

Fish hygiene

30. During June 2016 rapid alerts were notified for 43 consignments of fishery products
31. DG SANTÉ reports on a mission to Suriname; immediate delisting of establishments
32. DG SANTÉ reports on a mission to South Africa; only minor deficiencies noted
33. Commission notified of fish disease surveillance programs in Slovenia
34. Commission and Member States discuss controls of salmonid alphavirus.
35. Commission updates webpages on food additives

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers agreed on a general approach to controlling the EU’s external fishing fleets, with technical improvements, simplified administrative procedures and better alignment with the control regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and on the basis of a compromise text prepared by the Presidency. The scope of a proposed regulation will address checks on direct third country licences, chartering and "reflagging". It also endorses the Commission proposal for the introduction of a joint database to further improve the transparency of external fishing activity and to simplify monitoring.

2. The EU Council also considered a Commission communication concerning a consultation on fishing opportunities for 2017 and held an exchange of views in advance of a later decision on TACs and quotas. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella gave the EU Fisheries Ministers a preview of the fishing limits to be applied in 2017. He stressed that many EU fisheries are making good progress towards sustainable management, but overfishing is still widespread in the Mediterranean and in the Black Sea, where more work is required to ensure sustainable fishing levels.

3. The Commission published its Communication setting out the principles for healthy and profitable fisheries in the EU. The Communication presents the state of fisheries in the EU, including an economic analysis of the sector which indicates that – with an average net profit margin of 10% – the EU fleet achieved relatively high profits in 2014, compared to 2008, when it was making losses. The Commission is asking for the views of Member States, the fishing industry and non-governmental organisations in advisory councils, as well as interested citizens and organisations via an online public consultation, which it will use when preparing its proposals on fishing opportunities during the autumn. The Communication will be submitted to the Council of Fisheries Ministers of the EU, and will support Member States' ministers in coming to agreement on fishing quotas for 2017.

4. The 40th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) was held in Malta. A range of new conservation were approved, including a minimum conservation reference sizes for hake, a multi-annual plan for hake and deepwater rose shrimp in the Strait of Sicily, management measures for turbot in the Black Sea, emergency measures for small pelagics (anchovy and herring) in the Adriatic Sea, alignment of the GFCM's regional scheme of port state measures to the FAO Port State Measures Agreement, and improvements in data submission requirements. The new measures, many of which were proposed by the EU, are in line with the Commission's strategy to improve the state of the Mediterranean fish stocks and the economic prospects of the fishing industry. Commissioner Karmenu Vella expressed his satisfaction with the outcome, which "ushers in a new era of action to help fish stocks recover and fishing communities thrive”.

5. The Commission announced a public consultation on the management options for the fisheries exploiting demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean Sea. Anyone with an interest in the topic is invited to express their views by completing an online questionnaire, as well as to present their opinions as to what additional measures could be appropriate to manage demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean.

6. The North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) held its annual meeting in Bad Neuenahr Ahrweiler (Germany). Following historically low levels of wild Atlantic salmon return rates in European rivers in 2014 and 2015 NASCO agreed to continue zero catch options for West Greenland and the Faroe Islands. The NASCO parties expressed concerns over Gyrodactylus salaris, a parasite threatening wild salmon stocks. It was also agreed to hold the International Year of the Salmon in 2019.

7. The European Parliament published a report of a Workshop held in June 2016 on "The discard ban and its impact on the Maximum Sustainable Yield objective on fisheries", organised by the Committee on Fisheries (COMPECH) and the Policy Department B (PECH Research). The report considers the ban and its impact on the MSY objective in the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean (specifically the Bay of Biscay case) and the Baltic Sea. The report considers the commonalities and differences of the implementation experiences to date in the three regions.

8. The European Commission issued a press release on the closure of the bluefin tuna fishing season for purse seiners in the Western and Central Mediterranean Sea and in the Adriatic Sea on 24 June. The majority of the European vessels had fished their full quota by early June, and were called back to port by their national authorities. The Commission reports that the European purse seiner fleet is now using an electronic catch documentation system for Bluefin tuna developed by ICCAT (the Bluefin Catch Document or eBCD) and no major non-compliances were detected. Thanks to the effectiveness of the international recovery plan the EU quota had risen to just over 11200t in 2016, compared to 7938 t two years ago).

9. On 29 June 2016 the Council led by the Netherlands Presidency and the European Parliament reached a political agreement on a regulation amending the long-term plan for cod stocks from 2008, the so-called cod plan. The agreed draft regulation discontinues the effort regime, since this remains an obstacle to introducing in full the landing obligation. The rules on allowable catch limits (TACs) are largely simplified. The Commission will propose a multiannual cod management plan for the North Sea, which is expected to contain a chapter on specific targets and safeguards. It is expected that further development and introduction of selectivity and discard reduction measures will facilitate the phasing-in of the landing obligation in demersal fisheries which started in 2016.

10. The European Parliament approved the 2nd reading of the Regulation establishing a multi-annual plan for the management of stocks of cod, herring and sprat in the Baltic Sea This is the first of its kind and will be followed by sustainable long-term management plans for fisheries in other marine regions as well. The plans will also facilitate decentralised decision making for technical measures.

11. The European Commission Director-General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, João Aguiar Machado made a presentation to the European Parliament setting out the current status of the implementation of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) by EU Member States, describing their operational programmes for the period for 2014-2020. While all national programmes were adopted before the end of 2015, many Member States still have not shown they meet all conditions to start receiving EU funds. As a result, they risk losing out on funding opportunities

12. The Commission published its annual report on the capacity of the EU fleet, presenting an overview of fleet reports and action plans prepared by the individual Member States on the basis of Commission's guidelines. The main finding is that over the last decade the fishing capacity of the EU fleet has decreased by 25% in gross tonnage and almost 13% in power. Excess capacity is still observed in some fleet segments, but overall progress towards balancing fishing capacity and fishing opportunities has been significant across the EU. The capacity reduction of the last few years has helped improve the situation of over-exploited fish stocks and resulted in higher profits for the EU fleet.

13. The EU Council took a decision to adopt the new Protocol to the EU Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement, for a four-year period. Specific powers for adjustment of the Protocol are delegated to the Commission acting within the Joint Committee of the Parties.

14. Following the notification of Sri Lanka as a non-cooperating third countries in fighting IUU fishing pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008, the European Commission has received evidence that Sri Lanka has rectified the situation and taken remedial action. As a result, Sri Lanka is removed from the EU’s list of non-cooperating countries, and fisheries and trade relations with the EU are therefore normalised.

15. The UN hosted a one-week conference reviewing the Agreement on Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (otherwise known as the UN Fish Stocks Agreement or UNFSA). Delegates adopted recommendations to improve the conservation and management of stocks, to increase the efficiency and coordination of Regional Fisheries Management Bodies, to foster the fight against IUU fishing through stronger monitoring, control and surveillance and better compliance, to enhance data and science and to ensure wider participation in the Agreement. It was also agreed to continue review the UNFSA after 2020, and in the meanwhile address specific issues through Informal Consultations of State Parties.

16. The 2009 Port State Measures Agreement, a key international treaty adopted and promoted by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation aimed at combating illegal fishing, came into force following its ratification by the required number of states (25). The Agreement allows countries to keep illegal operators out of their ports and to prevent them from landing illegal catches. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella welcomed the entry into force of the Agreement, stating "We now have a powerful instrument that will help fight illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing at European and at global level.”

17. From 23rd to 27th May 2016, the EU hosted the 20th Annual Meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in La Réunion, France. The Commission adopted several proposals, including a pilot project for a Regional Observer Scheme, the implementation of electronic Port State measures, and an incentive scheme for better catch data reporting ('no-data no-fish' principle). Effort reductions were also agreed in relation to yellow fin tuna, Purse seiners will reduce their catches by 15% percent, Fish Aggregating Devices will be reduced from 550 to 425 and the number of supply vessels will be also reduced, gillnetters will reduce catches by 10%, longliners also 10% and coastal non-artisanal fleets by 5%.

18. The 16th Session of the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC), a consultative body under FAO, was held in Guadeloupe, France from 20-24 June 2016 and attended by representatives from 28 member countries. Members agreed to establish a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) in the region. A first preparatory meeting will be held in 2017, to discuss the objectives and competence area of the new RFMO, as well as which stocks should be covered.

19. The Commission published guidelines on the conditions for establishing and recognising professional fishery and aquaculture organisations (such as Producer Organisations), during the implementation of the regulation on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products. The guidance document is aimed at national administrations and operators and outlines the conditions to be met (including when extending rules to non-members).

20. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2016, containing articles on Lithuania (cod and European flounder) and Sweden (saithe and plaice). It also includes a Global Supply Case study on the sardine market in the EU and consumption of fresh seabass and seabream.

21. The European Parliament has published a report of a study on "Small-scale fisheries markets: value chain, promotion and labelling” undertaken on behalf of the Committee on Fisheries (COMPECH) and the Policy Department B (PECH Research). The study determines that the revised Common Market Organisation (CMO) for fishery and aquaculture products presents a great opportunity for small-scale fisheries producers to better access the market and to compete successfully with imported fishery products. The study recommends a number of market related measures, (statistical data bank, market research, promotion, creation of marketing associations and a separate logo for small scale fisheries) all to provide consumers with better opportunity to buy a fresh, safe, and environmentally-friendly product, and to guarantee an acceptable income to local small scale fishers.

22. European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella attended a special event on the potential of the blue economy held during European Green Week. He stated “We cannot have a healthy economy without healthy oceans. The EU is leading the way on sustainable blue growth. We are providing an investment base for ocean energy, for biotechnology, and for sustainable aquaculture.”

23. The Commission has published an updated web page on the common organisation of the market for fishery and aquaculture products one of the pillars of the Common Fisheries Policy. The page sets out the legal basis, describes marketing standards, gives guidance to operators and sources of market information.

24. The EU Council amended the 2016 TACS and quotas for sandeel (reduced by 8,000 tonnes) due to new biological data from real-time monitoring of the stock size. The TAC for anchovy in the Bay of Biscay is increased, due to an all-time high stock biomass.

25. The Commission adopted a regulation recognising the name “Conwy mussel” as a protected designation of origin.

26. SEAFO, a regional fisheries management organisation in South East Atlantic Ocean, has announced that it is seeking to recruit an Executive Director.

27. The EU funded AqUAEXCEL2020 project has opened a call for proposals from European research groups for scientific research that utilises the installations of selected participating Aquaculture Research Infrastructures. These installations are made available to the research community for Transnational Access (TNA) with the support of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme.

28. EU Commissioner Vella met the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean to discuss greater international cooperation within the Framework of the Commission’s MEDFISH4EVER Campaign, citing the example of the recovery of Blue Fin Tuna.

29. The European Commission DG MARE published an information poster on the EU’s small scale coastal fishing fleets.

Fish hygiene

30. During June 2016 there were 43 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 4 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 28 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 4 consignments of smoked skipjack tuna flakes from South Korea and 2 consignments of chilled white grouper from Senegal.

31. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ reported on a mission to Suriname in December 2015, to assess the sanitary control systems governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the EU. The mission found that there were a number of weaknesses in the system of official controls undermining the ability of the Competent Authority (CA) to ensure that the EU requirements are met. National legislation on water safety was not in line with EU requirements. There was no evidence that establishments had gone through an assessment procedure, on the basis of which the establishments were deemed eligible for inclusion on the EU list. Some of the establishments visited had serious nonconformities with the facilities, the water supply and the quality of the water used in the processing, as well as issues with cleanliness and hygiene. As a result, during the mission the CA took immediate action to delist four of the nine establishments and undertook to re-assess the eligibility of all EU listed establishments. Controls on water safety and use of bisulphite treatments for shrimp were not effective; in some cases, HACCP plans did not cover all risks (such as ciguatera) and were not fully implemented. There were no own-checks undertaken by the fishery business operators themselves. Surinamese laboratories used in the official control system were not yet accredited to ISO 17025. The Competent Authority acknowledged the findings and preliminary conclusions and provided commitment to correct the deficiencies.

32. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ reported on a mission to South Africa in March 2016, to assess the sanitary control systems governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the EU. The mission found that the current organisation of the South African competent authority combined with an operational control system supported by accredited laboratories and comprehensive instructions and procedures offer sufficient guarantees in relation to the public health conditions of fishery products intended for export to the EU. The mission noted that the Competent Authority is currently accredited as an inspection body to IEC ISO standard 17020. However, a number of minor deficiencies were noted in one establishments visited by the inspection team, including poor temperature control of chilled and unpacked fishery products waiting to be frozen.

33. The Commission was notified of two declarations from Slovenia of surveillance programmes for achieving disease free status for infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS).

34. The Commission and Member States held an exchange of views on amendment to national measures in place for controls of salmonid alphavirus.

35. The Commission has updated its webpages regarding the EU rules on food additives with respect to definitions, conditions of use, labelling and procedures.

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