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January 2017

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Council adopts 2017 TACs and quotas regulation;
2. EU Council amends the 2017 Baltic cod quotas for smaller vessels
3. Commission sets out new 2017 landing obligation measures; includes discard points
4. Commission adopts EU Waters control and inspection programmes
5. Commission adopts discard plans exempting several Mediterranean fisheries
6. Commission adopts trial discard exemption for Black Sea turbot
7. EU Parliament committee visits Thailand to review measures against IUU fishing
8. EU Council ratifies new EU-Norway fisheries agreement for Skagerrak
9. Commission publishes evaluation of future protocol with Equatorial Guinea
10. Commission approves amendments to EU Morocco Fisheries Protocol
11. Commission publishes Annual Economic Report for 2014; EU fleet profits up by 50%
12. DG MARE publishes study on fisheries subsidies in several countries
13. New EUMOFA study published on EU fish consumption habits
14. Commission restructures trawl bans in Natura 2000 sites in the Baltic and North Seas
15. Baltic Scope Project, holds 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016
16. Commissioner Vella highlights risks of climate change in the Arctic

Fish hygiene

17. Rapid alerts were notified for 38 consignments of fishery products
18. DG SANTÉ audits Panamanian inspection of Chinese owned vessel in EU Port
19. Commission extends ban on live bivalve molluscs from Turkey
20. Commission considers new certification requirements for transhipped fishery products
21. Commission will amend definitions of fishmeal and fish oil
22. EFSA reviews DNA integration in salmon arising from CLYNAV plasmid vaccine

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU Council adopted the 2017 TACs and quotas regulation setting the fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks, applicable in Union waters and, for Union fishing vessels, in certain non-Union waters. This includes quotas for EU vessels fishing in Greenland and Norwegian waters.

2. The EU Council amended the 2017 fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks and groups of fish stocks applicable in the Baltic Sea, in relation to cod quotas and adjusting the fishing seasons in relation to certain fishing vessels of less than 15 metres in length overall (except pair trawling vessels).

3. The Commission published a press release setting out the 2017 steps for the further implementation of the landing obligation provisions of the CFP, launched in 2015. In 2017 more species, will be covered in the Atlantic, while species from the Mediterranean and the Black Sea are included for the first time. Additional discard plans have been adopted for certain demersal fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea, including hake, red mullet and some bivalves. Member States must also start applying a points system for illegal discarding and send additional data to the Scientific Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), so that scientists can advise the Commission on updating the discard plans if necessary.

4. The Commission adopted a regulation amending the specific control and inspection programmes for certain demersal and pelagic fisheries in EU waters of the North Sea and North Atlantic. The programme is revised to target at ensuring compliance with measures to reduce discarding, the prohibition of high-grading, the moving-on provisions and the prohibition on slipping.

5. The European Commission adopted a regulation establishing discard plans for demersal fisheries in the Adriatic Sea, the south-eastern Mediterranean Sea and the western Mediterranean Sea. The regulation follows proposals submitted jointly by Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia. The plan provides exemptions from the landing obligation for common sole (Solea solea) in the Adriatic Sea and the bivalves scallop (Pecten jacobeus), carpet clams (Venerupis spp.) and Venus shells (Venus spp.) in the western Mediterranean Sea, as high survival rates can occur. Percentage de minimis exemptions are also provided for hake (Merluccius merluccius) and red mullet (Mullus spp.) and sole in respect of small scale fisheries.

6. The European Commission also adopted a regulation establishing discard plans for demersal fisheries in the Black Sea. The regulation follows proposals submitted jointly by Romania and Bulgaria. The plan provides exemptions from the landing obligation for turbot for one year, on a trial basis.

7. A delegation of the Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament visited Bangkok in order to review first-hand Thailand's progress in fighting against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing and in protecting migrant workers employed by the fishing fleet. The five-member delegation met with Government Ministers and relevant Thai authorities and to review the newly adopted legislation and enforcement measures. The Members also witnessed new monitoring, inspection and control infrastructures. However, the members also concluded that protection of migrant workers illegally employed in fisheries still needs additional efforts.

8. The European Council has ratified the new EU-Norway fisheries agreement which provides for mutual access access to fishing grounds in the Skagerrak for vessels flying the flag of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The agreement was signed by Norway on 15 January 2015 and therefore entered into force on 19 December 2016.

9. The European Commission published a prospective ex ante evaluation of a possible Protocol to a Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) between the EU and Equatorial Guinea, conducted from July to November 2016. The study concluded that there is a clear added value to the involvement of the European Union in the intervention. Regarding environmental impacts, fishing opportunities for EU tuna vessels in Equatorial Guinea waters will not contribute to the increase of this fleet’s fishing effort, but rather will expand the network of fishing zones accessible to vessels. For Equatorial Guinea, it seems unlikely that EU vessels will be able to develop direct economic interactions with the country, and the economic impacts of the intervention will only become apparent when the fisheries sector aligns its development with sectoral policy.

10. The Commission has approved, under delegated powers, amendments to the protocol to the EU Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The measure provides for increasing the penalties in the event of non-compliance with landing obligation, and increasing the incentives for compliant operators.

11. The Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of Fisheries (STECF), the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) have published the 2016 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet, based on data provided by national authorities, and covering the year 2014. The economic performance of the EU fleet improved significantly in 2014, registering record-high net profits of €770 million – up from €500 million in 2013. Forecasts for 2016 remain positive. The EU fleet's gross value added, i.e. the contribution of the fish catching sector to the economy through wages and gross profit, amounted to €3.7 billion in 2014, an 11% increase on the previous year. The main drivers for improvements are considered to be increased TACs following the recovery of some important EU fish stocks, reduced oil price and higher average first sales prices. However, although still marginally profitable, the economic situation of many small scale coastal fleets (SSCF) continues to show signs of reduced performance and the performance of fleets in the Mediterranean and Black seas continues to stagnate. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for fisheries and maritime affairs, said: "The positive trend … shows that sustainable fishing pays off” and the European Commission published a summary report of the results of the Annual Economic Report.

12. The European Commission, DG MARE published a study on subsidies to the fisheries, aquaculture, and marketing and processing subsectors in non-EU fishing nations, based on case studies of Japan, South Korea, China, the Russian Federation, Taiwan and the United States. Subsidies were defined under categories of services, production, social assistance and resource access. The study found that China, the US and South Korea have the highest absolute value of subsidies. In all three countries, over 95% of the subsidies are dedicated to the catching subsector. In China, federal subsidies were estimated at an average annual figure of EUR 5.56 billion. In the United States the figure was EUR 1.5 billion in 2013 and for Korea (2014) it was USD 1.5 billion. Russia has the highest per tonne subsidy for aquaculture, closely followed by Japan.

13. The European Commission DG MARE has published a study on EU consumer habits regarding fishery and aquaculture products, which reports the results conducted by the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA). The study reports on the mapping and analysis of existing studies on consumer habits, along with 62 interviews with fish retailers across the EU and an analysis of data from Eurobarometer surveys. The results show that the average per capita consumption in the EU is around 25,8 kg, with Southern Europeans consuming the most (35kg/capita). 73% of EU citizens eat fish/aquaculture products at home at least once per month, and 42% eat them at least once a week, but 10% never eat fish.

14. The Commission passed a regulation restructuring the legal approach to the management of fishing in seven Natura 2000 sites in the Baltic Sea, Skaggerak and Kattegat and the North Sea. Following representations from Denmark, Germany and Sweden, and consultations with the Baltic Sea Advisory Council and the North Sea Advisory Council, the regulation introduces a prohibition of fishing activities with mobile bottom contacting gear in defined zones with coral reefs.

15. The Baltic Scope Project, an EU funded initiative to help coordinate Maritime Spatial Planning by national authorities around the Baltic Sea, issued a press release following the 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016, where the first findings of the two years’ collaboration were presented. The project, which is supported by four research and regional organisations aims to support implementation of the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive of July 2014.

16. Commissioner Vella attended the Arctic Frontiers conference, Tromsø, Norway, to prepare for an EU funded event to promote action to protect and support sustainable development in the Arctic, proposed for 15-16 June in Finland. Speaking at a panel on the blue-green Arctic economy, the Commissioner said: "Climate change in the Arctic is a real cause for concern”.

Fish hygiene

17. During January 2017, there were 38 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 7 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 11 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 17 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of live oysters from France, 2 consignments of live oysters from Ireland, 2 consignments of live oysters from the Netherlands, 3 consignments of shrimp from Vietnam and 2 consignments of swordfish steaks from Spain.

18. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ published a report of a Panamanian reefer vessel inspection in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, as an addendum to their audit report of Panama in 2014, during which there were no EU listed freezer or factory vessels were available for on-the-spot visits. The FVO observed and audited an inspection of Chinese owned Panamanian flagged vessel performed by an official inspector from Panama in Las Palmas. HACCP plans and Standard hygiene procedures were found the be generic in nature, an issue which had not been identified by the Panamanian inspector.

19. The Commission adopted the implementing regulation extending the ban on the import of live chilled molluscs, following the failure of the Turkish authorities to fully address the deficiencies in the control system for bivalve molluscs identified in the last audit of the Food and Veterinary Office, which took place in September 2015. The ban, in place since 2013, is extended until 31 December 2017.

20. The Commission and Member States discussed Amendment of Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005 as regards the official controls on fishery products caught by Union flagged vessels and introduced into the EU after being transferred in third countries. The Commission has proposed a new model of the health certificate, but no decision was taken pending more information regarding the transhipment for fresh fishery products.

21. The Commission and Member States decided to amend Commission Regulation amending Regulation (EU) No 142/2011 as regards the definitions of fishmeal and fish oil, to achieve legal certainty regarding the use of starfish by-catch farmed invertebrates in fish diets.

22. The European Food Safety Authority published a review of data provided by the company Elanco, regarding a proposal for the introduction of a new DNA plasmid vaccine CLYNAV into the genome of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). The vaccine would protect against pancreas disease caused by the salmonid alphavirus. EFSA studied concerns that the vaccine would integrate with the salmon genome at the vaccine site. It concluded that the actual integration rate is likely to be orders of magnitude lower than a worst-case scenario, but that with current evidence, the actual integration rate cannot be estimated with more precision.

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