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November 2016

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU sets 2017 and 2018 TACs and quotas for deep-sea stocks
2. ICCAT catch limits for Mediterranean swordfish draw praise from Commission
3. EU Council approves proposals for new management regime for deep-sea stocks
4. EU Parliament report recommends new fleet capacity limits for Outermost Regions
5. DG MARE publishes report on EU-Guinea Bissau Fisheries Partnership Agreement
6. EU- Guinea Bissau Scientific Committee establishes new database
7. EU-Mauritania Committee discusses pelagic joint venture with Canary Islands
8. NEAFC parties agree 2017 conservation and management measures
9. CCAMLR parties agrees to establish Antarctic marine protected area
10. European Anglers Alliance agree Commission's proposals for sea bass management
11. European Members of Parliament visit Bangkok to discuss IUU fishing
12. Commissioner Vella indicates EU to adopt ILO Work in Fishing Convention
13. Commission and Government of Spain launch aquaculture campaign
14. Commissioner Vella visits Vietnam and China
15. Spain to adjust the days at sea for fishing vessels in the Gulf of Cadiz.
16. Stop fishing notices published for deep seas species
17. EUMOFA publishes articles on monkfish in the UK and consumption of clams

Fish hygiene

18. Rapid alerts were notified for 38 consignments of fishery products
19. Commission publishes food safety foresight study; EU legislation robust

Common Fisheries Policy

1. On 14th November 2016, the EU's Council unanimously agreed on the total allowable catches (TACs) and quotas for deep-sea stocks in the EU and international waters in the North-East Atlantic, proposed by the Commission for 2017 and 2018. The fish stocks concerned are deep sea sharks (unavoidable by-catch only), and reduced quotas for black scabbard fish, round-nose grenadier, alfonsino, red seabream and greater forkbeard. Deep-sea stocks are fish stocks caught in waters beyond the main fishing grounds of continental shelves. They account for about 1% of all fish caught in the North-East Atlantic.

2. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas held its annual meeting, hosted by the European Union from 14 to 21 November in Vilamoura, Portugal. It addressed the need for strengthened management measures for several stocks, such as Mediterranean swordfish, Yellowfin tuna, Atlantic albacore and Blue sharks. Key decisions taken include management measures for Mediterranean swordfish and blue sharks, and updated measures for Eastern and Western Sailfish, and maintaining the total allowable catches for Northern and Southern Albacore tuna. In particular, the swordfish plan will limit catches to 10,500 tonnes per year and then reduce the catch by a further 3% per year between 2018 and 2022. Most of the impacts will fall on the European fleet which is responsible for almost 80% of the catch. Commissioner Karmenu Vella said "As a major player in these fisheries, the EU has a particular responsibility in the swordfish economy”. ICCAT will also continue development of harvest control rules and better management of FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) in tropical tuna fisheries. However, the meeting failed to agree on a “fins attached” policy for shark landings, on an increase the observer coverage for tropical tunas and on measures to reduce discards. Despite these failures, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella "… ICCAT has turned into a model of best practice among regional management organisations".

3. The European Union published the proposals for the draft regulations establishing the new regime for the fishing for deep-sea stocks in the North-East Atlantic. The regulation will require further reduction in fishing capacity in deep-sea fisheries and provide for the provision of better data on vessel activities and catches. No extension of deep-sea fishing activity will be permitted beyond areas exploited during the reference period 2009-2011. There will be a substantive ban on fishing with bottom gears in areas with vulnerable marine ecosystems and at depths greater than 800m. Fishing authorisations will also be much more specific in terms of target species, areas, gears and other conditions such as observer coverage. The Council indicated that it is generally in favour of the regulation, but that is should avoid conflicts between NEAFC rules and the application of the regulation to the activities of EU vessels operating in the NE Atlantic within the NEAFC management area.

4. The European Parliament published a report undertaken by consultants on behalf of its Fisheries Committee, concerning the management measures for the fishing fleets of the EU’s Outermost Regions (French overseas Departments, the Azores and Madeira and the Canary Islands). The study note that the fleets are mostly composed of small-scale vessels targeting inshore and offshore resources and that the fleets are subject to the same management measures as those applied to all Union fleets. Whilst the EMFF takes into account the specific handicaps through increased intensity of public aid and a specific compensation scheme of additional costs, there may be a case for new measures to support a much-needed fleet modernisation. The study suggests that options may include a derogatory regime for fleet management and a revision of capacity ceilings.

5. The European Commission, DG MARE published a report evaluating the impacts of the EU-Guinea Bissau Fisheries Partnership Agreement, undertaken by consultants in November 2016. The study found that the utilisation rate for 2015 fishing opportunities was satisfactory for cephalopod and fishing trawlers (70%), pole-and-liners (75%) and tuna seiners (67%), but less so for shrimp trawlers (32%) or tuna longline vessels (absent in 2015). In 2015, the agreement provided catches of 16,042 tonnes of demersal fish and 2,194 tonnes of tuna. The study concluded that for each 1 euro invested by the EU, 2.02 euros is generated as total added value, of which 42% is for the EU, 38% for ACP countries and 20% for Guinea Bissau. The total amount received by the State of Guinea-Bissau is 10.5 million euros. The effective cost of access in 2015 was 415 euros/t, of which 344 euros/t was subsidised by the EU budget and 71 euros/t came from fees paid by the owners of EU vessels.

6. The Joint Scientific Committee of the Guinea Bissau - EU Fisheries Partnership Agreement has published a report on its activities to establish a single operational data base of Guinea Bissau's industrial fisheries, based on data from 2000 to 2015. The database will allow a more rigorous approach to the assessment of fishing effort, licences, and catch data. The successful completion of this activity will provide an improved tool for use by scientists in providing scientific advice to the parties to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement.

7. The EU and the Government of Mauritania held a meeting of the Joint Committee in the framework of their Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The meeting held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on 15-16 November reviewed the implementation of EU support for the Mauritanian fisheries sector, introduced new fishing opportunities for EU trawlers, and discussed the MACAPEL investment project, a joint venture on pelagic fisheries between Governments of Mauritania and Gran Canarias.

8. The 35th Annual Meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) was held in London from 14 to 18 November 2016. The parties agreed the conservation and management measures for the year 2017 for several fish stocks, including blue whiting, herring, mackerel, redfish in the Irminger Sea and Rockall haddock. They also adopted new guidelines setting out the NEAFC approach to conservation and management of deep-sea species and categorization of deep-sea species/stocks.

9. At its annual meeting in Hobart, Australia, the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) agreed to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in the Ross Sea Region, following 5 years of negotiations between the parties. This is the first major MPA in the history of the Antarctic. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, expressed his deep satisfaction with the result. Members also strengthened the obligations related to vessel authorisation and tightened the rules of the IUU listing procedures and agreed to facilitate scientific research and exploration of marine areas exposed following the retreat or collapse of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsula.

10. The Members of the European Anglers Alliance (EAA) expressed their satisfaction with the Commission's proposals for the management of sea bass stocks in 2017. The proposals mean no fixed or drift netting of bass will be permitted in northern European waters in 2017, which will reduce fishing mortality for sea bass while still permitting limited fishing opportunities for the most sustainable fishing methods. The Proposal of a 10 fish a month bag limit for recreational fishing is considered by the anglers to be the minimum acceptable, but preferable to the previous daily limit of just one fish, which impacts negatively on the vessel charter business.

11. A five-person delegation of the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament visited Bangkok from 1 November to 4 November in order to obtain first-hand experience of Thailand's response to EU measures requiring it to strengthen its efforts against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing by its fisheries operators. The mission also reviewed progress in protecting migrant workers employed by the fishing fleet. The Members witnessed new monitoring, inspection and control infrastructures and facilities, but also expressed that additional efforts are required for the protection of migrant workers illegally employed in the Thai fisheries sector.

12. European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella participated in a Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Sea-Fisheries with representatives from the European Transport Workers Federation (representatives of their employers. Topics discussed include the social dimension of the EU's reformed Common Fisheries Policy, working conditions in the fisheries sector, and training of fishermen. Commissioner Vella indicated that there will be a timely adoption of a Council Directive on the implementation of the ILO Work in Fishing Convention 2007, following the recent decision of the EU's, the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council.

13. The Commission supported the Government of Spain (Ministry of Agricultural, Fisheries, Food and Environment) in a new campaign “Say Yes to sustainable aquaculture” which kicked off with a national Aquaculture Day on 30th November. Public authorities, producer organisations and research institutes organised open door visits and conferences. Using the Commission’s "Farmed in the EU" school-kit, schools across the country participated with aquaculture experts (producers, scientists, officials) in workshops to raise awareness of the aquaculture sector.

14. EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella undertook a mission to Vietnam and China to press for more international cooperation on ocean governance, including in the fight against illegal fishing and marine litter. He will also discuss opportunities for collaboration on blue growth. He met with the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam and the Director of the State Oceanic Administration in China.

15. The Commission approved an application by Spain to adjust the days at sea for fishing vessels operating in the Gulf of Cadiz.

16. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Spanish vessels fishing for black and alfonsinos.

17. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition No. 10 of 2016, containing articles on Estonia and Norway. Monkfish in the UK and consumption of fresh clams.

Fish hygiene

18. During November 2016 there were 38 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were no rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 7 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 29 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of frozen lobster and 2 consignments of frozen sardines from Morocco, 2 consignments of canned tuna in brine from Thailand, and 2 consignments of swordfish from Spain.

19. The Commission’s Joint Research Centre together with the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety has published a foresight study “Delivering on EU Food Safety and Nutrition in 2050 – Future challenges and policy preparedness”. The study identified food safety and nutrition challenges arising from different scenarios considering different sources (globalised, local, partnership and “pharma”). It reviewed the EU legislative framework governing food safety, and found it to be robust and well prepared to respond to the challenges presented by scenario in 2050. However, it recommended that risk assessment, early warning for emerging hazards, official controls and inspections, provision of clear food information as well as food and nutrition education all need to be strengthened to better address future challenges.

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