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December 2017

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers agree 2018 TACs for Atlantic, North Sea and Black Sea
2. Regulation adopted for Black Sea TACS quotas for 2018
3. Political agreement on a multi-annual plan for North Sea demersal fish stocks
4. Commission takes quota from Spain and other EU states for overfishing in 2016.
5. EU recast its legislation implementing ICCAT rules
6. Commission extends derogation allowing inshore trawling in Slovenia
7. Stop fishing notices published for numerous fleet segments
8. EU and Mauritius sign fisheries Protocol; applicable from 8 December 2017.
9. EU Parliament approves FPA Protocols with Seychelles, Comoros and Madagascar
10. Arctic fishing countries agree to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in Arctic
11. European Fisheries Control Agency's (EFCA) operates Adriatic patrol vessel
12. EUMOFA publishes case study on the price structure of trout in Poland
13. Commission announces EUR278 billion structural funding distributed since 2014
14. EU Scientific Advisors say future of marine foods are fish farming, algae and shellfish
15. EU and Western Mediterranean countries launch a blue economy initiative
16. EU-China Blue Industry Cooperation Forum held in Shenzhen City
17. UN General Assembly resolves to develop mechanism for high seas conservation
18. Bulgaria, Finland and Greece taken to court over maritime spatial planning failures

Fish hygiene

19. Rapid alerts were notified for 35 consignments of fishery products
20. CORRECTION Workshops programmed for Better Training for Safer Food. AETS has been awarded the BTSF world contract by the EU
21. Post-Brexit EU reference laboratories agreed for crustacean diseases and bivalves
22. EFSA finds dioxin/PCB decontamination of fish oils is effective and safe
23. Four new disease-free compartments for VHS and IHN in France
24. Commission approves new bacterial origin 6-phytase additive for fish feeds

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers agreed on fishing catch limits in the Atlantic, North Sea and Black Sea for 2018, following negotiations at the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11 - 12 December. As a result, nine more stocks will be exploited at their maximum sustainable yield, bringing the total to 53 stocks (compared to 5 in 2009). Total allowable catches were reduced for 23 stocks. It was agreed to close eel fisheries for three months during their migration period and to strengthen measures for conservation of sea bass, affecting both commercial and recreational fishermen. Commissioner Vella stated that “With today's agreement two-thirds of fish in the Atlantic and the North Sea will be subject to sustainable catch limits next year”.

2. The EU Council adopted the regulation setting the Black Sea quotas for 2018. The TAC for turbot was set at 644 tonnes, of which Bulgaria and Romania each receive 57 tonnes. With a ban from 15 April to 15 June 2018. For Sprat an EU quota set at 11,475 tonnes, of which Bulgaria receives 8,032 tonnes and Romania 3,442 tonnes.

3. The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission reached a political agreement on a multi-annual management plan for demersal fish stocks in the North Sea, first proposed by the Commission in 2016. This will be the first comprehensive multi-annual, multi species plan for this sea basin and the second multiannual plan for the EU, following the one approved for the Baltic Sea in 2016. This plan covers more than 70% of the fishing sector and sets ranges within which sustainable catch limits can be set on the basis of the best available scientific advice, as well as rules on recreational fisheries where it has a significant impact on the relevant stocks. It also is claimed to bring decision-making closer to the fisherman.

4. The Commission has published its annual regulation, making deductions from the 2018 quota allocations to Member States to account for overfishing of stocks in the previous years. In several cases, where quota is not available in 2018, deductions are made from alternative stocks. In 2016, Spain overfished its quota for white marlin in the Atlantic Ocean by 147 tonnes, and an equal reduction is made to the 2018 swordfish quotas.

5. The EU has recast its legislation regarding the implementation of management, conservation and control decisions made by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas - ICCAT. The regulation supplements ICCAT management and reporting measures (other than the measures in relation to the multiannual recovery plan for Bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean). In addition, for the first time the Commission is empowered to adopt delegated acts required to implement into Union law amendments to the existing ICCAT recommendations which become binding on the Union.

6. The Commission has extended the derogation allowing 12 Slovenian “volantina” trawlers to operate within 3 nautical miles of the coast or within the 50 metres isobath.

7. Stop fishing notices have been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Portuguese vessels fishing for greater forkbeard, deep-sea sharks, alfonsinos, anchovy, Northern albacore, red seabream, skates and rays, Belgian vessels fishing for haddock, hake, skates and rays, anglerfish, Norway lobster, megrims common sole, plaice, Estonian vessels fishing for cod in NAFO area 3M, Spanish vessels fishing for skates and rays, roundnose grenadier, Northern albacore and yellowfin tuna in the IOTC Area of Competence, and Danish and French vessels fishing for ling.

8. The European Union and Government of Mauritius signed the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the parties. The Protocol therefore applies provisionally from 8 December 2017.

9. The EU Parliament gave its consent to the conclusion of the Protocols to the EU-Seychelles, EU-Comoros and EU-Madagascar Fisheries Partnership Agreements. The Parliament is seeking to be present as an observer in the joint scientific meetings, and to be informed of the decisions made.

10. Following a fifth round of discussions in Washington DC, countries and states engaged in Arctic fishing (the EU, Canada, the People's Republic of China, the Kingdom of Denmark in respect of Greenland and the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States) reached an international agreement to prevent unregulated commercial fishing in the Arctic high seas, until sufficient scientific information is available to support the sustainable exploitation of fish stocks in the region. The Agreement represents the first step towards the creation of regional fisheries management organisations for the Central Arctic Ocean, to ensure that any future fishing is carried out sustainably. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, said: “this historic agreement…. will fill an important gap in the international ocean governance”.

11. For the first time, the European Fisheries Control Agency's (EFCA) has chartered a patrol vessel, the AEGIS I, which since 1 December, has been patrolling in the Adriatic Sea, as part of a joint deployment plan for the Mediterranean. EFCA is collaborating with authorities from Greece, Italy and Croatia who will have inspectors on board the vessel. The main purpose is to monitor and carry out inspections on fishing vessels engaged in fishing of small pelagic species, blue fin tuna and swordfish. In addition, the operation will monitor fishing activity in the Jabuka/Pomo Pit area where a new fisheries restricted area will come into force in 2018 as part of a recommendation by the General Fisheries Council for the Mediterranean (GFCM).

12. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published two editions at then end 2017, containing articles on first sales in Europe of horse mackerel and shrimp (Crangon spp), non-food fisheries in the EU, consumption of squid in Italy, markets albacore tuna and crab in the EU, the Swiss market for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products, consumption of plaice in Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK. EUMOFA also published a special case study on the price structure of trout in Poland, which shows how the ex-farm price of EUR2.9 is transmitted into a retail price of EUR5.54/kg.

13. The European Commission announced that it has distributed EUR278 billion under the five European Structural and Investment Funds, including the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. By October 2017, almost half of the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds' budget for 2014 - 2020 had been committed to concrete projects. By the end of 2016, a study indicated that almost 793,500 businesses had received subsidies, creating a claimed 154,000 new jobs.

14. The High-level Group of the Commission's Scientific Advice Mechanism (a Commission evidence based policy unit set up by Commission President in May 2015) published a new scientific opinion on 'Food from the Oceans' setting out how more food and biomass can be obtained sustainably from the oceans to meet population growth. It recommended the need to expand consumption of species lower in the food chain (i.e. algae and shellfish), and to consider fish farming in the frame of sustainable fisheries partnership agreements between the EU and southern partner countries. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, welcomed the suggestions, indicating that “the growing global population can't be fed by agriculture alone”.

15. Ministers from several Western Mediterranean countries and the European Commission met in Naples (Italy) to launch a blue economy initiative - a series of joint actions seeking to make the common sea space safer, cleaner and more productive. Ministers agreed that its steering committee will be co-chaired by Algeria and France in 2018, France and Morocco in 2019 and Morocco and Italy in 2020. The parties adopted a declaration on governance and management systems to favour the relevant actions, ensure the political leadership and ownership, coordination with the work of existing regional organizations, and coordinate policies and funds at country level. European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said: "It is great to see that both EU and Southern partner countries and neighbours are buying into the initiative with equal conviction."

16. The Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, participated in the first EU-China Blue Industry Cooperation Forum in Shenzhen City, China. Commissioner Vella met with Administrator Wang Hong to discuss ways to reinforce their cooperation beyond 2017, in particular their intention to upgrade their bilateral maritime cooperation to an EU-China Ocean Partnership.

17. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution to negotiate a legally-binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), better known as the high seas. The assembly also adopted resolutions concerning the oceans, one on Oceans and the Law of the Sea and one on sustainable fisheries. European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, was “heartened by the widespread support for the development of an agreement for areas beyond national jurisdiction”.

18. The European Commission has referred Bulgaria, Finland and Greece to the Court of Justice of the EU for not notifying its measures transposing EU rules establishing a framework for maritime spatial planning (Directive 2014/89/EU). Member States had to transpose the Directive into national law by 18 September 2016. The Commission called for a daily penalty payment of EUR7,739.76 per day for Finland (which has not applied measures only to the Province of Åland) and EUR31,416 per day for Greece and EUR14,089.6 per day for Bulgaria, from the day of the judgement until the Directive is in force in national law (neither of which have transposed any measures).

Fish hygiene

19. During December 2017 there were 35 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 6 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 26 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod or cephalopod products. These included 2 consignments of live oyster from France, 2 consignments of frozen swordfish loins from Vietnam, 4 consignments of chilled hake and 4 consignments of swordfish from Spain.

20. CORRECTION. AETS has been awarded the BTSF world contract by the EU, and will be organising the Better Training for Safer Food workshops in Asia, especially on fisheries.

21. The European Commission and Member States held an exchange of views on changes to EU reference laboratory nominations due to Brexit. The tasks of the European Union reference laboratory for fish diseases (in Denmark) will be extended to include crustacean diseases as from 1 July 2018, since the current EURL for crustacean diseases (CEFAS) is located in the UK and thus cannot be confirmed due to the Brexit. There is also a need to change the EU Reference Laboratory (EURL) for monitoring viral and bacteriological contamination of bivalve molluscs which is located in the UK, and whose nomination will be discontinued on 31 December 2018. These activities will be taken over by the EURL for the analysis and testing of zoonoses (salmonella), the EURL for Escherichia coli, including Verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) and the EURL for foodborne viruses, as regards the analytical tests for salmonella, E. coli and viruses respectively.

22. Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) provided a scientific opinion on the assessment of decontamination processes involving the adsorption with activated carbon and physical filtration of fish oil in order to reduce the concentration of dioxins, polychlorinated dibenzofurans and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls. The processes proved to be able to remove 82– 95% of dioxins and 26–45% of dioxin-like PCBs depending on the process used, resulting in a product which was within legal limits for animal feeds. The study concluded that the proposed decontamination processes for fish oil using activated carbon and physical filtration were compliant with the acceptability criteria. However, it was noted the process can deplete some beneficial constituents (e.g. vitamins).

23. The Commission reported that it has received four declarations from France regarding status of disease free compartments for viral haemorrhagic septicaemia (VHS) and infectious haemopoetic necrosis (IHN). The compartments are: l'Écloserie Marine de Gravelines Ichtus (extended to include the site of the hatchery AQUANORD Ichtus); the independent compartments of Burelles and of Prévoteau; and the zone of upstream of the river Ancre.

24. Following advice from the EFSA, the European Commission approved the use of 6-phytase produced by Komagataella pastoris as a new feed additive for fish.

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