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November 2017

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission proposes 2018 TACs and quotas for Atlantic and North Sea
2. Commission proposes 2018 TACS and quotas for the Black Sea
3. EU extends period for temporary discard plans by three years
4. Commission amends discard plans for black scabbardfish and red seabream
5. EU Council political agreement on new external fishing fleets
6. ICCAT annual meeting in Marrakesh raises bluefin tuna TAC
7. EU publishes new list of blacklisted IUU vessels
8. EUMOFA publishes case studies on swordfish, and haddock
9. European Parliament endorses EU Arctic strategy
10. Commission launches new EUR14.5 million investment fund for blue growth
11. Pitching, Networking Village and Blue Bubbles at 2018 EU Maritime Day
12. Commission publishes study on blue growth in the Outermost Regions

Fish hygiene

13. 50 rapid alert notifications for fishery products during November 2017
14. DG SANTÉ publishes 2016 RASFF annual report
15. New official test protocol for paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) in molluscs
16. New disease-free compartments in Germany and Norway
17. Correction: Better Training for Safer Food programme

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission presented its proposal for fishing opportunities in the Atlantic and the North Sea for 2018. The proposal sets quotas for 78 stocks: for 53 stocks the fishing quota is either increased or remains the same and for 25 stocks is reduced. Notably TACs are increased for sole in the North Sea, northern hake and southern horse mackerel. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "Our fleet is becoming more profitable and that is because some of the EU's key fish stocks are healthier and more abundant.” The proposal will be submitted for discussion and decision by the Member States at the December Fisheries Council (11-12 December in Brussels), and new quotas will be applied as from 1 January 2018.

2. The European Commission also proposed the TACS and quotas for the Black Sea for 2018. For sprat, the Commission proposes to maintain a catch limit of 11,475 tonnes; 70% is allocated to Bulgaria and 30% to Romania. For turbot, the Commission transposes in its proposal the quotas adopted in the GFCM management plan for turbot (114 tonnes for 2018 and 2019, 50% assigned to Bulgaria and 50% to Romania), including a 2-month closed period (15 April - 15 June) and limitation of fishing efforts to 180 days at sea per year. Following the recent successful decisions of the GFCM, for the first time, the new management and control measures for these species will be implemented by all riparian countries.

3. The EU has extended the period (by a further three years) for the Commission to adopt discard plans on a temporary basis in the absence of multiannual plans or management plans with definitive arrangements for implementation of the landing obligation. The extension is due to the longer than expected period required in practice for the preparation and adoption of multiannual plans or management plans that include discard plans.

4. The Commission has adopted amendments to the discard plan for certain demersal fisheries in South-Western waters for the period 2016-2018, following a joint recommendation submitted by Belgium, Spain, France, the Netherlands and Portugal after consultation with the South-Western Waters Advisory Council. The amendments will permit discards of black scabbardfish caught by deepwater set longlines (due to being subject to shark predation) and red seabream, due to emerging evidence of high survival rates (subject to results of future studies).

5. The EU Council has set out its position at the first reading of the draft new regulation on the management of the EU’s external fishing fleets. The new regulation seeks to ensure consistent implementation in relation to authorisations for fishing activities of Community fishing vessels outside Community waters, and remove inconsistencies with the EU fisheries Control Regulation, and the IUU Regulation. It also seeks to tighten rules in relation to terms of control, such as chartering, ref-lagging. New specific authorisations will be required from EU flag states and the Commission before fishing vessels can obtain direct authorisations from third countries (where there is no sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement), subject to the condition that fishing will not undermine sustainability. In particular, authorisations will be required for support vessels, which can have a substantial impact on fishing operations. Several other measures are also proposed which will establish greater transparency of EU vessels operating in third country and international waters, including a public register of authorisations issued.

6. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) held its annual meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco (14-22 November). Based on scientific advice, ICCAT agreed to a gradual increase in the total allowable catches (TAC) of bluefin tuna reaching a maximum of 36,000 tonnes in 2020 (28,200t in 2018 and 32,240t in 2019). Discussions on replacing the existing bluefin rebuilding plan with a management plan for Eastern Bluefin tuna were postponed until 2018. Harvest Control Rules for Northern albacore were adopted and the TAC for this species increased by 20%. Precautionary measures were adopted to freeze the fishing effort on Mediterranean albacore, pending better stock information becoming available. Recommendations reducing the TACs for Northern and Southern Atlantic swordfish were also adopted. ICCAT decided to implement a pro-rata reduction of the TACs for Bigeye tuna and Yellowfin tuna, for which overfishing took place in 2016. An extensive review of tuna management measures will take place in 2018. Regarding sharks, despite an increase in the number of Parties supporting the proposal to introduce a fins-attached policy, the measure was rejected adoption. The next annual meeting of ICCAT is expected to be held from 12 to 20 November 2018 in Croatia. Mr. João Aguiar Machado, Director General of DG Fisheries and Maritime Affairs regretted the failure of the EU's proposal to adopt long-term management plan for the recovery of bluefin tuna stocks.

7. The EU published its updated list of blacklisted vessels engaged in IUU fishing. It includes culprits flagged by Bolivia, Georgia, Belize, Tanzania, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, Fiji, India, St.Vincent and the Grenadines, St.Kitts & Nevis, Angola and Panama.

8. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition No 9 of 2017, containing articles on Case study: Swordfish in the EU market; Seabass and seabream in Greece Consumption: Haddock in Ireland, Sweden, and the UK

9. The European Parliament endorsed the EU strategy for the Arctic, calling for a united EU policy, and welcomes the joint communication of the Commission and of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. It emphasises that an EU-Arctic Strategy requires the appropriate budget support to be made operational.

10. The Commission announced that it is following up with the pledges made at the EU-hosted 2017 “Our Ocean” conference, by launching a new EUR14.5 million investment initiative to further promote sustainable blue growth. EUR 8 million is set aside to help SMEs in high-potential emerging blue economy sectors. A further EUR 2 million will target innovative technologies to prevent, monitor, remove and recycle marine litter from EU waters; EUR 3 million will support twinning projects in the Mediterranean Sea; and EUR 1.5 million is allocated to restoring marine and coastal ecosystems in the Mediterranean. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: " On ocean energy, tackling marine litter, and along Mediterranean coastlines, I am delighted that we are so quickly following up on our Our Ocean pledges."

11. The Commission announced its call for participants in European Maritime Day 2018, to be held in Burgas, Bulgaria (31 May & 1 June). Prospective participants are asked to submit proposals for a stakeholder workshops, to pitch impact-oriented activities, ideas and solutions at the pitch stage in the Networking Village, and to participate in the "Blue Bubbles", dedicated to young ocean activists and leaders. Event organisers are also invited to link their maritime event to EMD.

12. The European Commission published a study “Realising the potential of the Outermost Regions for sustainable blue growth”, which reviewed the marine related economies of EU regions in Macaronesia, Caribbean-Amazonia and the south-western Indian Ocean. Activities such as coastal tourism, shipping and ports, and exploitation of living resources (fisheries and aquaculture) are important economic activities and presently contribute employment. Activities related to ocean energy and blue biotechnology are still in their infancies, but they can be promising for the future. Common barriers to development are a lack of skilled staff, limited access to private funding, poor coordination of blue economy activities across the different territories, and insufficient research and development.

Fish hygiene

13. During November 2017 there were 50 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 10 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 7 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 9 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 24 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of live mussels from France, 2 consignments of frozen clams and 2 consignments of frozen shrimp from Vietnam, 3 consignments of chilled mackerel from France, 2 consignments of frozen Atlantic salmon fillets from Chile and 2 consignments of chilled blackspot seabream fillets from Tunisia.

14. DG SANTÉ published the 2016 annual report on the work of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF). Activity in RASFF in 2016 was at a higher level than ever before. Compared to 2015, the total number of of exchanges on all products through RASFF was well above 10 000. Of these 519 (about 5%) were in relation to different fishery products, including 159 border rejections. Fish accounted for 327 notices, bivalve molluscs 84, crustacea 69 and cephalopods 39.

15. The Commission has amended the authorised testing methods to be used for the detection of paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) in molluscs. In future, the whole body (or any separately edible part) should be analysed using the biological testing method or any other internationally recognised method. If the results are challenged, the reference method shall be the so-called Lawrence method as published in AOAC Official Method 2005.06 (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Toxins in Shellfish).

16. The Commission, informed Member States of a declaration from Germany on disease free status for viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) and infectious haematopoietic necrosis (IHN) of the independent compartment Bertram Käppeler, Anlage Hausen, D- 72505 Krauchenwies". A declaration was also received from Norway on disease free status for Infectious Salmon Anaemia (ISA) of dependent compartments Vindvika in Bodo Municipality, Havsundet in Bjugn Municipality, Tollaksholmen in Bokn Municipality and Hestholmen Ø in Kvitsøy municipality, respectively.

17. CORRECTION to last month’s FishfilesLite: The item should have read “AESA has been awarded the EU contract for the organisation of the EU’s Better Training for Safer Food Programme, and will be undertaking workshops in Asia, especially on the official control of fishery products.

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