FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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September 2016

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Progress on new UN agreement on high seas fisheries
2. Commission proposes 2017 TACs for Baltic Sea; heavy cuts for cod fishers
3. GFCM action plan for fisheries adopted; to be endorsed by Ministers in 2017
4. Croatian fisheries controls break EU rules; Commission requires action plan
5. European Fisheries Control Agency finds illegal fishers in West Africa Coast
6. EU take United Kingdom to Court for failing to protect harbour porpoise
7. New marine protected areas in Swedish and Danish waters
8. Stop fishing notices for several EU fleets in certain areas
9. Parliament publishes study employment due to EU Fisheries Partnership Agreements
10. EUMOFA publishes annual study “The EU Fish Market"; imports reach EUR 22.3 billion
11. New measures adopted by NAFO; includes fins-naturally-attached policy for sharks
12. EU renames European Fisheries Control Agency
13. EU’s MaCuMBA Programme publishes findings on bioprospecting for marine microbes
14. Commission promotes EU interventions at Aquaculture Europe 2016 conference
15. EU project ParaFishControl launched on fish -parasite interactions in aquaculture

Fish hygiene

16. Rapid alerts were notified for 33 consignments of fishery products
17. DG SANTÉ reports on UK fish hygiene controls; manual temperature recording permitted
18. ECsafeSEAFOOD project to hold meeting on seafood contaminants of emerging concern

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU participated in a second round of negotiations held by the United Nations Preparatory Committee for a new legally-binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Issues discussed included sharing of benefits, area-based management tools and marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments, capacity building and the marine technology transfer. Further sessions will be held in 2017, after which a decision of the UN General Assembly in 2018 is expected to set up a formal inter-governmental treaty conference to negotiate the new treaty

2. The European Commission published its 2017 recommendations for TACs and quotas in the Baltic Sea. The Commission proposes to increase catch limits for 6 out of 10 fish stocks (Western, Bothnian and Central herring, sprat, plaice and main basin salmon) and to decrease catch limits for 2 stocks (Gulf of Riga herring and Gulf of Finland salmon). The Commission considers that the net benefit to the fishers will be an increase of EUR13 million in profits. The Commission subsequently published its recommendations for the management of Baltic cod. Following scientific advice which recommended severe reductions in fishing the quota proposed for Western cod amounts to 1,588 tons, down 88% compared to 2016 levels and the quota proposed for Eastern cod amounts to 24,927 tons, i.e. 39% less than in 2016. The recommendations will be considered by the Fisheries Ministers when they meet later in the year.

3. The Members of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) met in Rome and agreed to implement a strategy for the sustainability of Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries, with fixed timeframe and prioritisation of actions, funding and quantifiable goals. The plan involves collaborative actions to reverse the downward trend of fish stocks, improve scientific advice, support both coastal communities and small-scale fishing, ensure a level playing field, curb illegal fishing, improve the health of marine ecosystems and improve fisheries management through international cooperation and development aid. EU Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced that political engagement will be encouraged through a GFCM Ministerial conference in 2017, which will aim to adopt a new ministerial declaration on sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean.

4. Following the detection of irregularities affecting Croatia’s compliance with certain rules of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy in relation to fisheries control, and a subsequent joint investigation in September 2015, the European Commission has accepted an action plan setting out corrective measures. Under the action plan, Croatia will work to improve its general control framework and data management, ensuring that catch data are comprehensively validated and crosschecked. It will also modernise and update its fisheries website and set up an electronic system to exchange catch information with other Member States.

5. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) took part in a four-day campaign against illegal fishing off the West Africa Coast, implemented by the West African Sub- Regional Fisheries Commission (SRFC) and co-funded by the EU. Five patrol vessels and about 30 inspectors coming from the region were supported to undertake maritime patrols to check on vessels fishing in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Guinea. Some 82 vessels were controlled, and 14 infringements were detected. Two industrial Chinese vessels were identified as fishing illegally in Guinea, in a zone closed to fishing activities for reasons of biological recovery. European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica said “This operation is a concrete example of the European Union's added value in supporting good cooperation”.

6. The European Commission launched an action against the United Kingdom in the Court of Justice of the EU for its failure to propose sites for the protection of the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), a marine mammal regularly found in UK waters, as required under the EU’s Habitats Directive 92/43. The action follows a letter of formal notice sent to the UK government in June 2013 and a reasoned opinion sent in October 2014.

7. The European Commission adopted two regulations that will help Denmark and Sweden to comply with European environmental legislation to protect their marine environment. A new fishing ban will apply to a marine protected area in Swedish and Danish waters. Danish Natura 2000 sites of the Baltic Sea will protect reefs, and both sea-pen and burrowing fauna. The protection measures prohibit fishing in defined areas with bottom trawling gears, and will help the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework and the Habitats and Birds Directives.

8. Due to exhaustion of fishing quotas, stop fishing notices were published by the Commission for Portuguese vessels fishing for mackerel, EU vessels fishing for redfish in certain areas, French vessels fishing for undulate ray, Swedish vessels fishing for Atlantic salmon, German vessels fishing for cod, French vessels fishing for skates and rays and Belgian vessels fishing for whiting, haddock, skates and rays, Norway lobster, hake, sole, megrims and anglerfish.

9. The European Parliament published a study by consultants providing an analysis of the employment in the EU and third countries, linked to the EU’s Fisheries Partnership Agreements. The study estimated the EU’s fourteen FPAs with third countries sustain about 23,320 jobs in the EU and third countries, but that not all of these are directly linked to the exclusive activities of vessels under the Agreements.

10. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its annual study “The EU Fish Market" providing a snapshot of the marketing aspects of the fisheries and aquaculture industry. It reviews markets sizes, consumption trends, sources of supply, international and intra.EU trade, and main market trends and dynamics. Notable is the growth in imports in 2015, reaching EUR 22.3 billion (up 6% from 2014). The publication is available in five languages.

11. The 38th annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) took place in Cuba. NAFO Contracting Parties decided on total allowable catches (TACs) for a number of stocks. Following proposals from the EU and Canada, NAFO adopted a fins-naturally-attached policy for sharks caught in the NAFO Regulatory Area, the parties decided to ban all bottom fishing in an area north-east of the Flemish Cap (to protect corals). Fishing bans on American plaice, witch, flounder and shrimp in the Grand Bank were maintained due the stock conditions.

12. The EU passed a regulation renaming the Community Fisheries Control Agency as the European Fisheries Control Agency, to better reflect its role in cooperation with other EU maritime control authorities and with national authorities carrying out coast guard functions.

13. The EU’s MaCuMBA Programme, an EU funded study of the diversity of marine microbes, presented a summary of its outputs and achievements. The project was established on the premise that unknown microorganisms may hold the key to unlocking knowledge that could contribute to human development. New co-cultivation strategies were designed, along with platforms for automated high throughput screening for isolation. More than 200 new species were of fungi isolated from the deep sub-seafloor, genetic screening methods were developed to identify uncultured microorganisms with potential biotechnological applications, and new culture collections were established available for future research and industrial use. Novel cultivation conditions and specific growth media components were developed to help industrial partners seek new or optimised microbial bio-industrial products. Examples include antibacterial activity, enzyme-activities, lipid and polymer production, anti-cancer, anti-Alzheimer, UV-protection, and anti-fouling properties.

14. The European Commission attended the Aquaculture Europe 2016 conference in Edinburgh, organised by the European Aquaculture Society. The conference was attended by 1700 professionals, including researchers, national authorities, aquaculture producers and technologists. The Commission promoted its “Farmed in the EU campaign” and the funding opportunities the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and Horizon 2020. It also presented the current initiatives to cut red tape for fish farmers, who can face long application processing times and high costs.

15. ParaFishControl, a new EU funded project under the Horizon 2020 programme published its first newsletter. The goal of the project is to increase the sustainability and competitiveness of the European aquaculture industry by improving understanding of fish-parasite interactions and by developing innovative solutions and tools for the prevention, control and mitigation of the most harmful parasitic species affecting the main European farmed fish species. The project is being implemented by a consortium of 29 partners, led by Spain’s Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC). Its newsletter contains a lot of information about recent development in parasitology of aquaculture species.

Fish hygiene

16. During September 2016 there were 33 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 4 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 4 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 19 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of frozen shrimp from Vietnam, 2 consignments of salmon (sliced and gravlax) from Poland and 3 consignments of swordfish from Spain.

17. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ reported on a mission to the UK in April 2016 to evaluate the food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The mission found that the Competent Authority (the Food Standards Agency) has in place an official control system based on EU requirements and national legislation, which is supported by an extensive number of instructions and checklists. All laboratories supporting official controls are accredited for sampling and testing within the scope of this audit. Although the control system is consistently and adequately implemented, there was no planned programme of controls on fishing vessels (other than freezer and factory vessels) landing fish in the UK. In one processing establishment potential risks (such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons PAHs) were not considered in the own-checks. The CA was also observed to permit manual temperature recording from fixed thermometer displays by operators, in place of permanent recording equipment, in contravention of requirements set out in EU regulations. The Competent Authority was asked to submit a plan of corrective actions for consideration and acceptance by the Commission.

18. The ECsafeSEAFOOD, a four-year research project that aims to evaluate food safety issues related to contaminants present in seafood as a result of environmental contamination, announced some of it current and future activities. Project partner, the Norwegian Veterinary Institute (NVI) hosted a seminar on contaminants of emerging concern in seafood addressing xenobiotic contaminants, algal biotoxins, environmental factors, climate change, micro-plastics and other factors potentially affecting the safety of seafood. The project will host a stakeholder event and open science meeting “Seafood Safety: New Findings & Innovation Challenges” to be held in Brussels in January 2017. ECsafeSEAFOOD is led by the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA), and has a budget of more than €5 million.

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