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February 2017

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission adopts new fishing vessel register regulation; data to be partly public
2. IUU yellow cards lifted for Curaçao and Solomon Islands
3. Commission adopts multi-annual management plan for Adriatic small pelagics
4. Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Cook Islands considered by EU Parliament
5. Commission recommended to adopt EU Ghana fisheries agreement for 13 EU vessels
6. Commission reduces quota for EU Member States over-fishing in previous years
7. EU Parliament adopts new proposals for fishing authorisations for EU external fleet
8. Landing obligations comes into force for Mediterranean demersal fisheries
9. IATTC fails to adopt a multi-annual conservation plan on tropical tuna
10. Commission delays implementation of electronic transmission of VMS data
11. EU Committee blames bureaucracy for slow growth of aquaculture
12. EUMOFA market reports published on squid, rose shrimp, algae and monkfish
13. Commission registers designation “West Wales Coracle Caught Salmon”
14. Commissioner Vella announces Mediterranean ministerial conference for 29 March

Fish hygiene

15. Rapid alerts were notified for 40 consignments of fishery products
16. FVO reports on Thailand; widespread evidence of non-authorised tuna exports to EU
17. EU project holds conference on non-regulated contaminants in seafood
18. Commission to allow reduced checks at EU borders on certain fishery products
19. New information on oyster parasite Bonamia ostrea in Ireland
20. European Smoked Salmon Association develops guide to good practices

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission adopted a new fishing vessel register regulation which introduces several new requirements. Vessel operators will be required to apply a unique identification number to each fishing vessel, and the register will include data on vessel and gear characteristics and ownership. New tools and procedures are introduced to simplify data management between Member States and the European Commission. The new EU fishing fleet register will be made available to Member States in its entirety and to the public in a limited version, although information on ownership will not be disclosed. The register will be also allow the use of the tool for electronic data exchanges developed by the Commission. The new regulation will enter into force on 1 February 2018. The previous Regulation regarding the fleet register (EC) No 26/2004 will be repealed.

2. The European Commission lifted the 'yellow cards' for Curaçao and Solomon Islands, introduced in November 2013 and December 2014 respectively. The removal of the warning is in recognition of the progress these countries have made in addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities conducted by their vessels.

3. The Commission adopted a proposal for a multi-annual plan for the management of small pelagic stocks (anchovy, sardine, mackerel and horse-mackerel) in the Adriatic. The plan sets target fishing mortality rates for the two most valuable and widespread commercial stocks in the Adriatic: anchovy and sardine. This represents a shift in the management of small pelagics, towards an approach based on fixed fishing opportunities. The plan mainly concerns Italy, Croatia and to a limited extent Slovenia. Small pelagic stocks represent a significant share of income for the fisheries sector in the Adriatic, estimated at €74 million in 2013.

4. The Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament approved the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and the 4-year Protocol with Cook Islands, which will allow a maximum of 4 EU purse seiners to fish for up to 7,000 tonnes per year of tuna and other highly migratory species in the Cook Islands’ fishing EEZ. The new protocol still has to be approved by the plenary session of the Parliament.

5. The European Commission DG MARE published an ex-ante evaluation of a possible future Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol between the EU and Ghana. The report concludes that an agreement would be more likely to bring enhanced cooperation between the EU and Ghana (including at the regional and ICCAT level) and human rights and democratic principles would be more likely to be achieved compared to vessels buying individual licences as they do at present. The report recommends that the parties enter into an agreement which provides for access for up to 13 EU tuna vessels.

6. The Commission applied deductions from fishing quotas for certain stocks on account of overfishing by Member States of other stocks in the previous years. Quotas for Denmark, Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, UK, France, Ireland and Belgium will be adjusted for 2016 with any balance carried into 2017.

7. The European Parliament adopted the Commission proposals on the sustainable management of the EU’s external fishing fleets. The new measures aim to be more transparent, simpler and provide better monitoring and control of the EU fleet. Member States will have to provide fishing authorisations for vessels to fish outside EU waters and to monitor their activities.

8. The Commission issued a press release on the latest state of play with the implementation of the landing obligation. Since 1 January 2017, additional discard plans are in place for certain demersal fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea, including hake, red mullet and some bivalves. Member States must 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.

9. An extraordinary annual meeting of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) in La Jolla, California sought to adopt a multi-annual conservation plan on tropical tuna in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, but did not manage to achieve this due to the objections of a majority some of the contracting parties. In particular, scientists had recommended closing the fishing for big-eye tuna and yellowfin tuna for 87 days. The EU supported this proposal, but most IATTC members considered the measure unacceptable. The EU called for more robust measures, addressing management and conservation for all stocks and fisheries and for the adoption of a capacity management plan to address fleet overcapacity and reduce the numbers of FADs used in the region.

10. The Commission postponed some of the deadlines for the implementation by EU Member States of the UN Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/Cefact) standard for electronic transmission of fisheries control data related to VMS systems. These now have to be implemented by 1 July 2018.

11. The European Economic and Social Committee provided an opinion of stakeholders on the state of aquaculture development in the EU, concerned that the sector has not improved its situation despite the provisions designed to promote it in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the common market organisation (CMO) and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The EESC considers that the main cause of lack of site availability is the complex implementation of EU environmental legislation, mainly the Water Framework Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the rules on the Natura 2000 network by the public administrations of Member States and their regions. It calls on authorities to make use of guidelines in the application of European environmental rules and calls on the European Commission to launch the Aquaculture Advisory Council as a matter of urgency.

12. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2016, containing articles: Focus on Italy (squid and deepwater rose shrimp) Global Supply Case studies: Fisheries in Malta; Algae in the EU market Consumption: Fresh monk

13. The Commission approved the entry of “West Wales Coracle Caught Salmon” into the register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications.

14. European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for fisheries and maritime affairs, attended the Halieutis fair in Agadir, Morocco at which he gave a speech on the value of Cooperation and partnership for healthy oceans, a healthy fisheries sector, and a healthy 'blue' economy. He also met with the Moroccan fisheries minister Aziz Akhannouch, as well as ministers of Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon. He announced that the Commission will host a ministerial conference in Malta on 29 March, which will bring together countries from around the Mediterranean Sea basin to adopt a common declaration on sustainable fisheries in the Mediterranean.

Fish hygiene

15. During February 2017, there were 40 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 5 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 12 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 4 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 live razor clams from the Netherlands and 7 consignments of squid from China.

16. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANTÉ of the European Commission published a report on an audit mission to Thailand in June 2016, to assess control systems applied to the tuna products exported to the EU. This mission is the first in a new series of audits dedicated to food safety in the tuna industry concerning public health (in particular limits for biogenic amines and heavy metals) as well as IUU requirements and customs rules in relation to ensuring that only product from authorised vessels enters the EU supply chain. The mission found that there were systemic weaknesses in the control of the transport of tuna species from carriers to the first land-based establishment, the control of cold stores and the European Union eligibility of the imported raw materials. In particular, cold stores which freeze fish were not required to implement and maintain permanent procedures based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), unhygienic conditions were noted in fishing vessels and transport vehicles, and shortcomings (one potentially serious) in the implementation of HACCP and hygienic conditions in three of six processing establishments visited. Despite efforts by the Competent Authority, the mission also found that tuna products had been consigned to the EU which were caught by vessels flying the flag of a country not authorised to supply the EU, from vessels from authorised countries, but without traceability attestations, supplied from unidentifiable establishments in other third countries, transported in reefer vessel flying the flag of a country not authorised to supply the EU or not on the list of vessels of an authorised country. As a result, the mission concluded that the competent authority cannot ensure that all imported raw materials used in the manufacture of products exported to the EU were obtained in compliance with the EU rules. The report concludes that these weaknesses do not allow the Thai competent authority (the Department of Fisheries) to fully provide the guarantees required by the European Union export certificate when exporting fishery products of tuna species to the EU. Further guarantees were sought from the Thai Competent Authority.

17. The ECSafeSEAFOOD project, financed by the EU, held a conference ‘Seafood Safety: New Findings & Innovation Challenges’ in Brussels to discuss potential impacts of non-regulated contaminants in seafood. The event presented the results of this four-year FP7 project, addressing seafood consumer needs and concerns, marine toxins in seafood and the environment, toxicity of seafood contaminants, evaluation of seafood monitoring data, and rapid detection tools for environmental contaminants. Among the important results for consumers are the development of FISHCHOICE, an interactive online tool that consumers can use to weigh up the benefits and risks associated with the seafood they eat, and a set of seafood safety guides for consumers, industry and policy makers, which are due to be published in March 2017.

18. The Commission held a further exchange of views on a draft Commission Regulation to allow reduced checks at EU borders on fishery products caught by Union flagged vessels and introduced into Union territory after being transferred in third countries. The regulation will establish a model of the health certificate for those products. Some member states retain doubts as to the legal basis for the derogation and further consideration is required.

19. The Commission disseminated information from Ireland concerning detection of the oyster parasite Bonamia ostrea in a previously disease free area.

20. The Commission informed Members States that the European Smoked Salmon Association (ESSA) has developed a European guide to good practice for smoked fishes and/or salted and/or marinated fish products.

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