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June 2017

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU supported identifies extinction threat for several EU commercial fish species
2. EU Committee of the Regions supports new technical measures regulation
3. Greek vessels granted derogation to allow inshore fishing for picarel and bogue
4. Stop fishing notice published for Spanish vessels fishing for saithe
5. EU adopts new regulation on CFP fisheries data framework
6. EU Parliament passes resolution on Mediterranean fisheries; focus on small scale
7. EU and Seychelles sign access agreement to Mayotte for Seychelles vessels
8. DG MARE publishes study on benchmarking of fisheries control and surveillance
9. IOTC meeting bans large scale driftnets and some shark finning
10. North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation holds annual meeting
11. New EU regulation agreed for Atlantic tuna fishing controls under ICCAT
12. New EU rules for determining the characteristics of fishing vessels
13. Political agreement reached on new EU controls on external fishing fleet
14. 2017 Bluefin tuna fishing season closes in the Mediterranean; no systemic infractions
15. Commission renews origin derogations for tuna and mackerel from Cape Verde
16. EUMOFA reports on a study of status of organic aquaculture in the EU
17. EUMOFA publishes study on the price structure of canned tuna in Spain
18. EUMOFA publishes study on the price structure of canned sardine in Portugal
19. EUMOFA publishes latest edition with articles on mussels and EU fish trade in 2016
20. EUs Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers discuss pollock, SIOFA and SPRFMO
21. EU Environment Agency publishes major report on the Arctic environment
22. EU Parliament proposes motion on overfishing for UN Ocean Conference
23. EU attends UN Ocean Conference in New York
24. EU Foreign Affairs and Fisheries Commissioners speak at UN Oceans Conference
25. EU adopts Minamata Convention on environmental mercury
26. EU and China launches joint efforts on ocean governance
27. EU and China plan events on Ocean Governance and the Blue Economy
28. Commission opens public consultation on the Atlantic Action Plan
29. EU Parliament publishes study on the fisheries of Madeira
30. EU announces annual European Maritime Day (EMD) host cities to 2024.

Fish hygiene

31. Rapid alerts were notified for 66 consignments of fishery products
32. EU’s new Official Control Regulation published in the Official Journal
33. New EU rules on organic production and labelling of organic products
34. DG SANTÉ provides assistance and training to Iranian Veterinary Organization,
35. EU Agriculture and Fish Ministers approve reference laboratory for food viruses
36. Commission receives information on fish disease control in Austria and Slovenia
37. Commission considers safety of PCB detoxification of fish oils and fishmeal
38. New model health certificate for EU fishery products landed in third countries
39. Commission considers amendments to methods for analysis of PSP in shellfish
40. Commission considers safety of new feed additive for finfish
41. EU TRACES system prepares for border controls un new official control regulation

Common Fisheries Policy

1. A research team which included the Commission’s Joint Research Centre, has studied the status of commercial fish stocks all around Europe to assess the extinction risk of fish, based on stock assessment data produced by the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). The findings suggest that many large fish species, including many of the sharks and rays of Europe, are threatened with extinction due to excessive exploitation. Stocks in the Mediterranean are particularly threatened, where none of the 39 assessed fish stocks examined were classed as sustainable. Hake (Merluccius merluccius) is of particular concern with nine out of the 12 examined hake stocks in the Mediterranean, with exploitation rates that are over five times higher than the rate in line with reaching maximum sustainable yield. In addition, also threatened are six species of sturgeon, the northern wolffish (Anarhichas denticulatus), blue ling (Molva dipterygia), the dusky grouper (Epinephelus marginatus), the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) and (wild) Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). The study was part of a wider effort to assess the extinction risk of fish carried out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to produce the European Red List of Marine Fishes.

2. The EU’s European Committee of the Regions expressed its opinion on the proposed EU fisheries technical regulation “Conservation of Fishery Resources and the Protection of Marine Ecosystems through Technical Measures”. In general, the Committee considers the proposal a real step towards regulatory simplification of the technical measures in European fisheries, although it does recommend several technical amendments.

3. The Commission has granted a derogation to Greek vessels to the ban on trawling within 3 miles of the coast. The derogation is applied to 244 traditional vessels undertaking seine fishing for picarel (Spicara smaris) and bogue (Boops boops) within territorial Greek waters, providing that they operate under the management plan adopted by Greece.

4. Stop fishing notice has been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Spanish vessels fishing for saithe in area VI; Union and international waters of Vb, XII and XIV.

5. The EU Council and Parliament adopted the EU’s new regulation establishing the framework for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries sector and support for scientific advice regarding the common fisheries policy. This now includes data on commercial fisheries, recreational fisheries, aquaculture and industries processing fisheries products. The new regulation requires the Commission to establish a multiannual Union programme for the collection and management of fisheries data, with detailed list of the data requirements and mandatory surveys at sea to be undertaken. Member states should develop national workplans and designate a national correspondent. Masters of Union fishing vessels are obliged to accept on board scientific observers.

6. During discussions on protecting small-scale fisheries, improving data collection and tackling illegal and unreported fishing in the Mediterranean basin, Members of the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for fishing opportunities (to be) be allocated using objective and transparent criteria, including environmental, social and economic criteria, giving due consideration to low impact methods and should also be fairly distributed within the various fisheries segments, including traditional and small-scale fishing”.

7. The Fisheries Agreement between the EU and the Seychelles came into force on 18 May 2017, allowing access for fishing vessels flying the flag of the Seychelles to waters and marine biological resources of Mayotte, under the jurisdiction of the EU.

8. DG MARE of the European Commission published a report by consultants: “Benchmarking the operational added value and preparing end users' uptake of the maritime CISE (Common Information Sharing Environment).” The study assessed the interest and needs of Member States for sharing of information on fisheries control and surveillance activities. It found the that the greatest demand was in relation to Incident Notification, Vessel Tracking (Voyage, Location and Details) and Risk Information Exchange.

9. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held its 21st Annual Meeting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, from 22 to 26 May 2017. The EU welcomed a ban the use of large scale driftnets in the Indian Ocean. This ban would be applicable not only on high seas (as agreed in 2012), but also in the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of the contracting parties. The new measure will take effect from 2022 and should have a major impact on reducing incidental mortality of protected species, including manta rays, cetaceans, sea turtles and sharks. The IOTC also endorsed a proposal tabled by the EU on shark finning requiring that all sharks landed in fresh form must be landed with their fins attached. IOTC failed to adopt management measures proposed by the EU for specific stocks such as neritic tunas and billfish, despite scientific evidence and the Scientific Committee's own recommendations.

10. The 34th annual meeting of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organisation (NASCO) took place in Varberg, Sweden, from 6 to 9 June. Discussions were held on the effectiveness of restocking programmes in conservation, measures for eradication of the salmon fluke parasite, and actions for monitoring and controlling commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries. The European Union has reaffirmed its commitment to support the work of NASCO and provided a voluntary contribution of EUR 300,000 for research activities. NASCO also announced that it is cooperating with the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission (NPAFC), in preparations for the International Year of the Salmon, scheduled for 2019.

11. The EU’s Council reached political agreement with the Parliament for a new regulation concerning management, conservation and control measures applicable to tuna fishing in the ICCAT Convention Area (International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas). The regulation will contain all ICCAT recommendations since 2008 (with the exception of the multiannual recovery plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean which is subject to a separate process) and also takes account of developments in EU legislation in the fields of controls and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The measures will still need to be adopted by the Council and Parliament later this year.

12. The EU adopted a regulation updating the rules for determining the characteristics of fishing vessels, in terms of length, breadth, tonnage, date of entry into service and engine power. The regulation will bring the rules into line with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) regarding standards on internal combustion engines, and will simplify the definition of gross tonnage for vessels with a length overall of less than 15 metres.

13. The European Parliament and the Council reached a political agreement on the Commission’s proposal on the Sustainable Management of the EU’s External Fishing Fleets. The measures will set strict eligibility criteria to fish outside Union waters and put in place a comprehensive system of fishing authorisations. The new rules also tackle abusive reflagging, chartering and transhipment activities. They will significantly increase transparency by creating a public register for fishing authorisations for EU vessels operating outside the EU.

14. The Bluefin tuna fishing season in the Western and Central Mediterranean Sea and in the Adriatic Sea came to a close on 21 June at 8 AM for purse seiners, 3 days before the official closure on 24 June (has been open since 26 May). The European Commission considers that the 2017 campaign ran smoothly and notes that inspections on European vessels did not reveal systemic illegal activities. The Commission confirmed that, for the first year, all European operators used the electronic catch documentation system for Bluefin tuna (the Bluefin Catch Document or eBCD) developed by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

15. The European Commission has used its delegated powers to extend the derogations in favour of Cape Verde with regard to the rules of origin in respect of an import quota of 5,000 tonnes of prepared or preserved non-originating tuna, 2 500 tonnes of prepared or preserved non-originating mackerel fillets and 875 tonnes of prepared or preserved non-originating frigate tuna or frigate mackerel fillets. The derogations will allow Cape Verde processors to import raw material for processing when its own fishing industry is unable to ensure regular supplies. The derogation is justified since the new Economic Partnership Agreement (‘EPA’) between the Union and West Africa initialled on 30 June 2014 has not yet been brought into force and Cape Verde cannot yet rely on the cumulation rules under the EPA.

16. EUMOFA published a report requested by the Commission on the status of organic aquaculture in the EU. The study considers the extent of the activity in each Member State and by species, and considers the economic performance and impact on markets. It considers demand factors and consumer attitude. It concludes that organic aquaculture represents 4,7% of the total aquaculture production, for the six main aquaculture species produced in the EU (salmon, trout, mussels, carp, seabass and seabream). Although it has shown a strong increase in recent years, its economic performance is unsatisfactory, with low profitability with only salmon, trout and mussels showing a price premium above the additional costs incurred. The report considers that sustainable capture fisheries are the major competitor to organically cultured fish, and that consumers are confused by the variety of ecolabels and organic logos.

17. The EUMOFA has published a special study on the price structure of canned tuna in Spain. The study reviews EU and Spanish markets in terms of volumes, values, consumption and trends, and considers how prices and values are created along the supply chain. The EU market for canned tuna reached 809.000 tonnes in 2015, supplied by imports of 587.000 tonnes of canned tuna, plus imports of raw frozen whole tuna (91.000 tonnes) and tuna loins (132.600 tonnes) for EU canning. Due to stakeholders’ refusals, it was not possible to collect any detailed data on processor’s costs. The study found that between 2008 and 2015 prices increased until 2012 (from 4,39 EUR/kg to 6,28 EUR/kg) and since then, they have decreased (to 5,13 EUR/kg in 2015).

18. The EUMOFA has published a special study on the price structure of canned sardine in Portugal. The study reviews EU and Portuguese markets in terms of volumes, values, consumption and trends, and considers how prices and values are created along the supply chain. The study found that the EU has a sardine trade deficit of EUR 100 million, with landings of sardines falling from 64.000 tonnes in 2010 to less than 14.000 tonnes in 2015. This has completely changed the ex-factory price of canned sardine, which now represents 42% of the total production cost of sardines in vegetable oil in 2015, against 29% in 2011. As a result, operating margins of canners have been reduced by 25% between 2011 and 2015.

19. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition containing articles on EU Trade in 2016 and the market for mussels in the EU.

20. The EUs Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers held their 3547th Council meeting in Luxembourg, 12 June 2017. They discussed the EU’s legislative proposal for a new regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products, and the position of the EU on Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea, the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement and the Commission of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation.

21. The European Environment Agency published a press release on the publication of its new report "The Arctic environment — European perspectives on a changing Arctic". This sets out how the EU can and should act to ease pressure on the Arctic environment by mitigating impacts of climate change and long-range pollution; improving health and living standards in the region; improving the knowledge base in support of strengthening the region’s ecosystem resilience; reducing imports of natural resources from the region through a transition to a circular economy; advancing sustainable management of resources; and engaging actively on issues that require an international response.

22. Members of the European Parliament proposed a motion to be presented by the EU at the UN Ocean Conference. Noting that despite the world’s commitment to curb overfishing by 2015, made in 2002 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 31.4 % of the world’s fish stocks are still overfished, they proposed a series of measures including to develop cross-sectorial mitigation measures to build resilience to ocean acidification and climate change, to rebuild and maintain exploited fish stocks above levels that can produce the maximum sustainable yield and conserving at least 10% of coastal and marine areas.

23. On behalf of the EU, the European Commission participated in the 5-day United Nations Ocean Conference, held in New York and attended by 193 Member States of the UN. The Conference unanimously agreed to a set of measures aimed at reversing the decline of the ocean’s health. UN Member States collectively agreed “to act decisively and urgently, convinced that our collective action will make a meaningful difference to our people, to our planet and to our prosperity”, and adopted more than 1,300 commitments to action.

24. On the occasion of the World Oceans Day (8 June, theme, "Our oceans, our future"), Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Karmenu Vella; Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, made a joint statement affirming the EU’s commitment to implementing the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, for the benefit of EU citizens and the whole world, welcoming the UN Ocean Conference and announcing that the EU will host the fourth "Our Ocean" Conference in Malta on 5-6 October this year.

25. The European Council formally adopted on behalf of the European Union the Minamata Convention on Mercury of10 October 2013, which commits the parties to the control and limitation of the use, and of anthropogenic emissions and releases, of mercury and mercury compounds to air, water and land, with a view to protecting human health and the environment.

26. The EU and China launched joint efforts on ocean governance. Mr Juncker, President of the European Commission, and Mr Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of China unveiled the 2017 EU-China Blue Year logo to mark their commitment to improved ocean governance. Mr. Joao Aguiar Machado, Director General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission and Mr. Wang Hong, Administrator of State Oceanic Administration of China signed a Joint Press Statement on 2017 EU-China Blue Year, which will bring together experts from both sides to step up the sharing of knowledge and the exchange of information, views, experiences and good practices by developing joint activities. The initiative will support events such as conferences, meetings, workshops, seminars and study visits.

27. The European Commission and the Government of China released a joint press statement setting out a programme of events in the EU and China themed on the Ocean Governance, the Blue Economy, Marine Conservation, and Marine Monitoring.

28. The Commission has opened a public consultation on the Atlantic Action Plan adopted in 2013, which provides a guiding framework on how Member States, coastal regions and the Commission can support sustainable growth and drive the blue economy forward, whilst preserving the environmental and ecological stability of the Atlantic. The suggested implementation approach includes calibrating existing funding instruments at national level (e.g. Operational programmes), direct funds from the EU (incl. Horizon 2020) and better collaboration between stakeholders. The consultation will assess the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the plan’s implementation. Citizens and stakeholders such as organisations promoting collaboration on maritime affairs, civil society organisations working on preservation of marine and coastal environment, research and academia, public authorities (at regional, national and local levels) working on maritime affairs in the Atlantic Ocean and/or funding projects can submit comments online up to 22 September 2017.

29. The European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (COMPECH) and the Policy Department B (PECH Research) published a short background study on the Fisheries of Madeira as a briefing for the visit of the members of the Committee of Fisheries to Madeira in 2017.

30. The EU’s Fisheries Ministers announced the European Maritime Day (EMD) host cities for the period 2018-2024. They will be Burgas, Bulgaria (2018); Lisbon, Portugal (2019); Cork, Ireland (2020); Den Helder, Netherlands (2021); Ravenna, Italy (2022); Brest, France (2023) and Svendborg, Denmark (2024).

Fish hygiene

31. During June 2017, there were 66 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 3 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 5 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 10 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 48 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 7 consignments of tuna from Spain, 3 consignments of octopus and 2 consignments of frozen lobsters from Morocco, 3 consignments of frozen shrimp from India, 3 consignments of swordfish from Vietnam, and 4 consignments of yellowfin tuna from Papua New Guinea.

32. The EU’s new Official Control Regulation to replace Regulation 882/2004 and other regulations has been published in the Official Journal of the EU. This sets out official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection. Its scope is extended to include cover plant health and animal by-products, organics and plant protection products. It is clarified that official controls must be performed in a manner that minimises the burden on businesses, but Competent Authorities have to take into account the likelihood of fraudulent and deceptive behaviours when deciding the appropriate frequency of controls. New measures enhance the transparency of official controls and increase Competent Authorities' accountability to consumers and operators. Clearer conditions are set for the delegation of official control tasks and other official activities, along with clearer rules for the designation of the laboratories carrying out analysis, tests or diagnoses for official controls. A new EU Reference Centres for animal welfare will be established. The requirement for a cascade approach to sampling, analysis, tests and diagnosis is defined. An integrated approach to import controls is defined, with minimum requirements for facilities, equipment and staff qualifications, and better-defined clearance procedures with all consignments to undergo documentary checks and identity and physical checks will be carried out at a frequency depending on the risk. A single standard document, the Common Health Entry Document (CHED), will be used by operators for the prior notification of consignments. New general rules are set out in order to create a uniform and harmonised framework for official certification, including conditions for signature. Specific controls regarding products of animal origin, including meat, fish, bivalve mollusc and dairy sectors, are repealed and will be replaced with updated provisions under implementing acts to be adopted by the Commission. Standard fees for official controls in the EU are also specified.

33. The EU’s Presidency and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on an overhaul of the existing EU rules on organic production and labelling of organic products. The new approach will establish updated and uniform rules across the EU with the aim of encouraging the sustainable development of organic production in the EU. The new rules also aim to guarantee fair competition for farmers and operators, prevent fraud and unfair practices and improve consumer confidence in organic products. There will be simplified rules for production and several past exceptions and derogations will be phased out. Small producers will be able to use a new system of group certification. The draft regulation will have to be formally endorsed by the Council and the Parliament and the new regulation will apply from 1 July 2020.

34. DG SANTÉ supported a workshop in Tehran, to help the Iranian Veterinary Organization, ensure better monitoring of exports of products of animal origin from Iran to the EU (mainly casings and fishery products) and to facilitate administrative procedures for border checks at the EU border. Following the meeting the Iranian Veterinary Organization confirmed it will use TRACES for the certification of its exports to the EU. The technical cooperation is delivered following the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran since 2003.

35. The EU’s Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers held their 3547th Council meeting in Luxembourg, 12 June 2017, which approved the nomination of the Swedish National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket) as the new EU reference laboratory for foodborne viruses.

36. The Commission received information concerning a declaration from Austria on disease free status for infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) for the zone "Sägenbach". Slovenia announced on disease free status for infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) for three different compartments. Slovenia also provided information on a surveillance programme for achieving disease free status for infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) and viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) for the compartment "Šumec".

37. The Commission received 6 applications for the approval of defined processes for the detoxification of fish oils and other animal feed ingredients. These applications include the decontamination of fish oil and fish meal for dioxins and PCBs, the decontamination of linseed and linseed cake for hydrocyanic acid and the decontamination of groundnut meal for aflatoxin B1. EFSA is assessing the safety of the proposed detoxification processes.

38. The Commission and Member States exchanged views on a draft Commission Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005 as regards the official controls on fishery products caught by Union flagged vessels and introduced into Union territory after being transferred in third countries. The proposal will also establish a model health certificate for such products.

39. The Commission also discussed a draft Commission Regulation amending Annex III to Commission Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005 as regards the permitted methods for analysis of paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) toxins, to bring it into line with the international standard.

40. The Commission announced that it has received an application dossier for approval of a new feed additive for finfish, OPTIPHOS® (6-phytase).

41. The Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) system published its periodic newsletter, highlighting the introduction of the new official control regulation, which will introduce new border control procedures for animals, plants and food, and revisions to the Common Health Entry Document (CHED). It also announced the latest activities under the BTSF programme (Better Training for Safer Food), which is dedicated to training on the use of the different TRACES modules for participants from the Member States. The first session is planned for June 2017 and will take place in Vilnius. During the next two years 16 workshops on animal, food, and plant control, and the import of organic products will be organised.

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