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December 2016

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers agree 2017 TACs and quotas for NE Atlantic and North Sea
2. EU Council adopts 2017 TACs and quotas for Black Sea
3. EU Council also adopts the 2017 TACs and quotas for deep-sea species
4. EU adopts Regulation restricting deep-sea fishing to protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems
5. EU Parliament Fisheries Committee approves new controls on EU vessels fishing outside EU waters
6. SEAFO strengthens fisheries MCS but avoids gillnet ban
7. International negotiations on future Arctic RFMO; next round in Iceland.
8. EU adjusts cod management plan to account for landing obligation
9. Commission revises discard plan for demersal fisheries of the North Sea
10. Commission revises discard plan for South-western waters
11. New 2017 discard plan for demersal fisheries in North-western waters
12. Commission adopts Italian proposals for discard plan for Venus clams
13. Commission revises discard plan for pelagic species in South-western waters
14. Stop fishing notices published for several fleet segments
15. EU and the Cook Islands Fisheries Partnership Agreement becomes operational
16. EU corrects coordinates of the fishing zones under EU-Mauritania FPA
17. New EUMOFA publications available
18. Eurostat publishes 2016 edition of Agriculture, forestry and fisheries statistics.
19. New organisation structure with centres of excellence for the Commission’s DG MARE

Fish hygiene

20. Rapid alerts were notified for 44 consignments of fishery products
21. European Council adopts new official control regulation
22. The European Food Safety Authority publishes report on a Type E botulism outbreak
23. Commission withdraws proposal for streamlining fish imports from EU vessels
24. The EU TRACES pilots new system for Common Health Entry Document
25. Commission proposes adjustments to definition of fishmeal and fish oil
26. Several fish disease free compartments declared for IHN), VHS and Marteilia spp.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Council met on 13 December 2016 in Brussels to decide on the 2017 TACs and quotas for fishing in EU waters. For most stocks the Council has accepted the Commission’s recommendations. The decision also covered stocks where new scientific advice became available from ICES. New TACs were adopted for skates and rays and Norway lobster in North Western Waters, the Rockall component of the megrim stock in North Western Waters and for anglerfish in the North Sea, Rockall and West of Scotland, Skagerrak and Kattegat. The number of fish stocks managed at maximum sustainable yield is expected to increase next year to 44 (up from 5 in 2009). Commissioner Karmenu Vella said that “following years of disciplined fisheries policy, scientists this year advised increasing catch limits for several stocks in the Atlantic and North Sea”.

2. The Council also adopted the regulation setting the 2017 TACs and quotas for the fisheries in EU waters of the Black Sea. For sprat, a catch limit of 11 475 tonnes. 70% are allocated to Bulgaria and 30% to Romania. For turbot, the quotas at the were kept at the same level as 2016, i.e. at 86.4 tonnes.

3. Following the agreement of the EU Parliament, the Council also adopted the 2017 TACs and quotas regulation for the fishing of deep-sea species, agreed at the last meeting of EU Fisheries Ministers in November 2016.

4. A new Regulation also introduced the much-restricted circumstances in which trawl fishing can target deep sea stocks, with new measures to protect the fragile vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) of the deep-sea bed. It sets a depth limit of 800 metres for deep sea fishing in the NE Atlantic. Fishing at depths below 400m will also be restricted in areas where there are indications of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems.

5. The EU Parliament’s Fisheries Committee approved in principle the proposals put forward by the Commission for strengthening the controls on EU vessels fishing outside EU waters. The proposal would replace the current Fishing Authorisations Regulation 1006/2008. The draft resolution, which was adopted by 22 votes to 1 against, will be put to the plenary vote of Parliament in February. The measure, if approved will require all EU vessels to have a permit from their flag state to fish outside EU waters (along with eligibility criteria), a public electronic fishing authorisation register would be set up, and there would be restrictions on re-flagging.

6. The South East Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (SEAFO) held its 13th annual meeting in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It adopted an EU proposal to upgrade the system of fisheries monitoring and control. The meeting also adopted total allowable catches for the main SEAFO species, based on scientific advice. A proposal for measures to ban gillnets, direct deepwater shark fishing and shark finning was however rejected by members.

7. The European Union participated in a third round of international negotiations on measures to prevent unregulated fishing in the Arctic high seas. The meeting took place in Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands. While no commercial fisheries currently take place in the Arctic high seas, it becomes more likely as the sea ice cover recedes. Delegations from Canada, China, Denmark, EU, Japan, Korea, Norway, Russia and the USA discussed the text of a legally binding agreement as a first step towards establishing one or more regional fisheries management organisations for the Arctic. The next round of negotiations will take place in the first quarter of 2017 hosted by the government of Iceland.

8. The EU adjusted the long-term management plan for cod stocks in the Kattegat, the North Sea, the Skagerrak and the eastern Channel, the west of Scotland and the Irish Sea to account for the introduction of the landing obligation for this species. This interim regulation paves the way for multiannual management plans for multi-species fisheries, by discontinuing the fishing effort limits, and replacing them with safeguard biomass levels.

9. A Commission regulation has revised the conditions for the implementation of the landing obligation in demersal fisheries of the North Sea. Among other measures it extends the landing prohibition in circumstances where there is a likely of high survivability of discards (for example in certain trawl fisheries for Nephrops), and extends de minimis exemptions permitting a small percentage of discards in certain fisheries.

10. The Commission adopted a new regulation setting the 2017 discard plan for South-western waters. A survivability exemption is applied to Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and de minimis exemptions provided for hake and sole under specific circumstances of catch gear and location.

11. The Commission also adopted a new regulation setting for 2017 the discard plan for North-western waters covering the fisheries for demersal species. Survivability exemptions are applied to Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and small sole, and de minimis exemptions are also provided for whiting, Norway Lobster and sole under specific circumstances of catch gear and location.

12. The Commission has adopted the regulation setting for 2017 the discard plan for the bivalve molluscs of the genus Venus in Italian territorial waters. The plan reduces the minimum conservation reference size (below which specimens may be discarded) from 25 to 22mm due to their high survivability.

13. The Commission amended the regulation setting the discard plan for South-western waters covering the fisheries for pelagic species. This reduces the minimum conservation reference size for horse mackerel (Trachurus spp.) to 12 cm for 5% of the quota, with an additional dispensation for an artisanal beach seine fishery in Portugal. The measure applies from 1 January 2017.

14. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Portuguese vessels fishing undulate ray, Greater forkbeard and forkbeard; Belgian vessels fishing for skates and rays; Spanish vessels fishing for northern albacore and undulate ray; French vessels fishing for red seabream and plaice;

15. In November 2016, the EU and the Cook Islands held their first Joint Committee in the framework of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Cook Islands. The parties defined the financial support to be granted by the EU for the development of the Cook Islands’ fisheries sector and discussed arrangements for the start of fishing operations. The new Agreement will allow up to four Union vessels to fish for up to 7,000 tonnes of tunas and other highly migratory species each year in the Cook Islands’ fishing area. In return, the EU will pay the Cook Islands EUR2.9 million, EUR1.4 million of which is specifically earmarked for the development of small-scale fisheries, reinforcing control and surveillance operations, strengthening sanitary conditions.

16. The EU published corrections to the coordinates of the fishing zones defined under the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania.

17. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published two editions. Its November 2016 edition contained articles on Focus on Denmark (eel), Portugal (scabbardfish) and Sweden (northern prawn). Its December 2016 edition contains a case studies on preserved herring in glass jars in Sweden, and an article on Norway lobster in the EU.

18. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, published the 2016 edition of the Agriculture, forestry and fisheries statistics, with production and market data up 2015.

19. The EU’s College of Commissioners approved a new structure for the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, to meet the needs for mainstreaming international ocean governance and the blue economy. The new setup will provide a new directorate for Maritime Policy and the Blue Economy. Policies on Ocean Governance and Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing will be anchored in the International Directorate, and three new “Centres of Excellence” will provide advice and support to the organisation on socio-economic matters, scientific advice, data collection and fisheries control.

Fish hygiene

20. During December, 2016 there were 44 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 5 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 12 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 24 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 3 consignments of frozen squid and 3 consignments of canned tuna in brine from Thailand, 6 consignments of shrimps and prawns from India and 3 consignments of smoked fish from Ghana.

21. The European Council on 19 December 2016 adopted its position at first reading of the reformed official control regulation. This followed the submission of the Commission’s proposals in 2013 and the reaching of a political agreement between the Council and the Parliament on a compromise text in 2016. The new rules aim to strengthen and focus the controls carried out by Member States to ensure the application of the Union legislation on food and feed safety, animal health and welfare, plant health, and plant protection products. It will also apply to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for feed and food production, organic farming, protected designations of origin, protected geographical indications and traditional specialities guaranteed. Additionally, marketing standards for agricultural products will be covered with respect to possible fraudulent practices. Competent authorities will be required to ensure a high level of transparency. The regulation is now on track for adoption during 2017.

22. The European Food Safety Authority published its report on a Type E botulism outbreak associated with fish product consumption in Germany and Spain in November 2016. The outbreak, affecting 6 people, was associated with the consumption of salted and dried roach. Targeted public warnings have also been issued in Germany, Spain and the other countries where the implicated fish product was distributed.

23. The Commission presented a draft Decision on derogation from full import checks at EU border inspection posts (BIPs) for fishery consignments caught by EU flagged vessels and transferred in third countries before being introduced in the EU. However, the commission was forced with withdraw the proposal when it received advice that there was no legal basis for a derogation. Full import checks will therefore continue to be applied to such products on arrival in the EU market.

24. The EU TRACES (TRAde Control and Expert System) has published a new edition of its regular newsletter, in which it reports on the progress of the draft official control regulation, and describes some of the work done by TRACES to prepare for the streamlining of the system for the issue of the Common Health Entry Document (CHED). It announced the piloting of new electronic systems with Morocco, New Zealand and Australia.

25. The Commission and Member States held an exchange of views on a draft Commission Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 142/2011 as regards the definitions of fishmeal and fish oil. The definition will clarify the inclusion in feeds of starfish caught as by-products on the mollusc farming areas and the use of certain farmed invertebrates in the fish diets.

26. A number of areas were declared as disease free compartments concerning infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS), in Croatia Slovenia, Germany, France and Italy. Denmark declared a compartment free of Marteilia refringens (a protozoan parasite of bivalves) in Nissum Bredning in the western part of Limfjorden.

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