FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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February 2018

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Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Parliament adopts resolution on fish fraud and calls for study on ecolabelling
2. Commission outlines status of fish stocks in Mediterranean and Black Sea
3. Commission amends discard plan for Mediterranean demersal fisheries
4. Commission amends discard plan for Mediterranean small pelagic fisheries
5. Commission amends discard plan for South-Western waters small pelagic fisheries
6. Commission amends discard plan for North Sea small pelagic fisheries
7. Commission amends discard plan for North-Western waters small pelagic fisheries
8. Commission amends discard plan for Mediterranean swordfish fisheries
9. Commission amends discard plan for salmon in the Baltic Sea
10. EU showcases European aquaculture success stories at "#FARMEDintheEU
11. Southern Pacific RFMO raises 2018 TAC for Jack Mackerel by 15 %
12. EUMOFA reports on mackerel, herring and sardine
13. Commission launches BlueInvest 2018 to match link investors to innovators
14. Commission establishes the European Marine Biological Resource Centre

Fish hygiene

15. Rapid alerts were notified for 32 consignments of fishery products
16. Commission publishes audit report on Vietnam; poor hygiene in catfish sector
17. Commission publishes audit report Peruvian bivalves; controls improved
18. EU and US take steps towards mutual authorisation for bivalve mollusc controls
19. EFSA consider use of hexane effective and safe for decontamination of fish meal
20. Commission transfers reference laboratory functions for bivalve molluscs
21. New EU Regulation lowers BPA limits in food contact materials

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Parliament adopted a resolution expressing concern at the reported level of mis-labelling of fishery products in the EU (6% of white fish, according to a recent Commission study). It calls on Member States to strengthen national controls, including on non-processed fish for restaurants and the catering sector, to tackle fraud and supports a strong traceability system, from landing to consumption. The Parliament calls on the Commission to submit a feasibility report on options for an eco-label scheme for fishery and aquaculture products and address the need for minimum standards for ecolabelling. The review should also address the confusion caused by the current labelling requirements based on Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) areas.

2. The European Commission published a press release outlining some of the successes in fisheries management in in the Atlantic, the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, where overexploitation has declined drastically. In this region, 53 out of 76 stocks for which data are available are fished sustainably - compared to 44 stocks in 2017 and just 5 stocks in 2009. For stocks managed wholly by the EU, 97% by volume are being fished at sustainable levels, with notable recovery in high value species such as hake and cod. However, the Commission notes that he Mediterranean and the Black Sea is a continuing source of concern. In 2017, only 7 of the 60 Mediterranean stocks assessed were at healthy levels. The MedFish4Ever Declaration for the Mediterranean and the Bucharest Declaration for the Black Sea, signed by the EU and its international partners has delivered its first steps in setting and fisheries restricted area in the Adriatic and launch of a joint inspection scheme and a management plan for turbot in the Black Sea. European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said "We've made a priority of the Mediterranean and Black Sea, where overfishing is worst".

3. Following representations from several Member States the Commission has amended the discard plan established for certain demersal fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea applicable from 1 January 2017 until 31 December 2019. The amendments will extend the definition of the Western Mediterranean Sea, redefine the mullet fishery by including all red mullets (Mullus spp.), extend the period of the survivability exemption established for mollusc bivalves, add a survivability exemption for common sole in the Adriatic Sea, and introduce survivability exemption to Norway Lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) caught with all bottom trawls in the Western Mediterranean Sea.

4. The Commission has revised the landing obligation requirements for certain small pelagic fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea, to establish a de minimis exemption from the landing obligation for certain species. In certain small pelagic mid-water trawl and purse seines fisheries (for anchovy, sardine, mackerel and horse mackerel) up to 3 or 5 % (depending on the fishery) of the total annual catches of any species subject to a minimum size may be discarded.

5. Following the request of relevant Member States (Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain), the Commission has amended the discard plan for certain pelagic fisheries in South-Western waters. The decision will extend the duration of de minimis exemptions, for blue whiting, albacore tuna, anchovy, mackerel and horse mackerel. The exemptions will avoid disproportionate costs of handling unwanted catches in the relevant fisheries.

6. Following the request of relevant Member States (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom), the Commission has amended the discard plan for certain small pelagic fisheries and fisheries for industrial purposes in the North Sea. The de minimis exemption will apply for up to 1 % of the total annual catches of mackerel, horse mackerel, herring and whiting in the relevant small pelagic fisheries with midwater trawlers.

7. Following the request of relevant Member States (Belgium, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom), the Commission has amended the discard plan for certain pelagic fisheries in North-Western waters. The amendment will apply a survivability exemption for mackerel and herring caught in ring net fisheries targeting non-quota species, and a de minimis exemption for up to a maximum of 6 %, in 2018, and 5 %, in 2019 and 2020, of the total annual catches of blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou). Other exemptions are provided for albacore tuna, mackerel, horse mackerel, herring and whiting.

8. The Commission has modified the landing obligation with regard to swordfish (Xiphias gladius) caught in the Mediterranean, to ensure compliance with ICCAT decisions which require vessels to refrain from targeting, retaining on board or transhipping, landing, transporting, storing, displaying or offering for sale, selling or marketing examples of this species which fall below the minimum size of 100 cm lower jaw fork length; or weigh less than 11.4 kg round weight. The regulation applies also to sport and recreational fisheries.

9. The European Commission has adopted a discard plan in respect of salmon in the Baltic Sea. The plan, submitted by Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Sweden extends the exemption from the landing obligation for salmon caught with trap-nets, creels/pots, fyke-nets and pound nets after expiry of the current plan on 31 December 2017. The decision was made following consultation with the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF), regarding the low mortality of this species in trap fisheries.

10. The European Commission and the Committee of the Regions showcased some of the success stories of European aquaculture at a conference "#FARMEDintheEU Regions". The European Commission called on regions to embrace aquaculture, which after more than a decade of stagnation, is finally showing signs of recovery, with 4% growth in volume and 8% in value between 2014 and 2015, and profits exceeding EUR400 million. European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, stressed that "the planning, authorisation, and ultimately the success of aquaculture in the EU lie in the hands of our regions and Member States."

11. The Southern Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) held its sixth annual meeting in Lima, Peru. The Committee heard that the key species, Jack Mackerel, continues a steady recovery and the total allowable catch (TAC) was increased by more than 15 % for 2018, with an EU quota of 35,000 tonnes. Implementing rules for a new Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) were adopted (following EU finance of EUR100,000 for system installation), ensuring a more efficient control of the fleets, along with a proposal for a regional observer programme. Dr Sebastian Rodriguez, was elected as the new Executive Secretary of SPRFMO. The next Annual Meeting will be held in The Hague, the Netherlands in January 2019.

12. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2018, containing articles on Atlantic mackerel (France, Portugal, Sweden) Atlantic herring (Denmark, Poland, the UK) and extra-EU imports. It reported weekly average EU import price conditions for Atlantic salmon and herring from Norway, shrimp from Ecuador, and canned sardine from Morocco, and includes a study on consumption of fresh sardine in France, Portugal, and Spain.

13. The European Commission announced the launch of BlueInvest 2018, an event aimed at matching cutting edge companies in the blue economy with public and private investors. The EU hopes that the blue economy will grow at twice the rate of the mainstream economy, resulting in 10.8 million EU jobs and nearly 1 trillion euro in turnover, along with cleaner energy, new health benefits, and dependable food supplies. The event follows on from the 2017 Our Ocean conference, and will be hosted by Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and will take place on 17 May in Brussels. Companies (whether start-ups, scale-ups or accelerators in the areas of fisheries, aquaculture, biotechnology, renewable energy, transport, tourism, waste management etc) will have the opportunity to pitch their projects live in front of a jury of investors. Companies interested to take part in this session can apply online. Commissioner Vella said "The European Commission wants to boost companies that see the ocean as an opportunity. Access to finance is the passage to sustainable growth."

14. The Commission adopted an implementing decision to establish the European Marine Biological Resource Centre - European Research Infrastructure Consortium (EMBRC-ERIC), hosted by France. The Centre will provide a service as a single access entry point to a comprehensive portfolio of services and research platforms, marine ecosystems, biological resources, E-infrastructure and metadata. The UK may participate as a third country.

Fish hygiene

15. During February 2018 there were 32 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 12 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notification for cephalopod products, 1 rapid alert notification for crustacean products, 18 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 8 consignments of oysters and 2 consignments of chilled angler from France, 2 consignments of chilled codfish from the Netherlands, and 2 consignments of frozen shortfin squid from China.

16. The European Commission published a report carried out by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety on an audit carried in Vietnam to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that the official control system implemented by the competent authority is based on a comprehensive set of legislation, underpinned by adequate control procedures. However, a key exception concerns the absence of measures to ensure that brine-frozen tuna can only be destined for the canning industry, and not be exported as fresh/frozen tuna intended for direct sale to the consumer. The mission also found serious shortcomings concerning the hygienic storage of fishery products, in some catfish processing establishments. The report contains recommendations to the Vietnamese competent authorities, aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified, for which guarantees were subsequently provided by the Vietnamese Competent Authority, NAFIQAD.

17. The European Commission published a report carried out by the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety on an audit carried in Peru to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of bivalve molluscs intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that there had been positive progress in implementation of the recommendations made in a previous report, and a clear improvement in official control of bivalve molluscs. The mission advised a cautious approach to reinstating the use of private laboratories for the official monitoring programme without introducing effective official supervision. Although existing exports of bivalve molluscs from Peru, currently limited to eviscerated aquaculture scallops, can be considered as providing sufficient guarantees to the requirements of the EU health certificate, a resumption of export of other species cannot yet be considered due to sub-optimal sanitary surveys and classification of production areas.

18. The Commission announced that it is working in parallel with the US on the administrative steps for the mutual authorisation of exports of bivalve molluscs, to be introduced in the second half 2018. As a first step two Member States (the Netherlands and Spain) will be allowed to export bivalve molluscs to the US and two US States (Washington State and Massachusetts) to the EU. Further States from US and Member States will be allowed to export on the basis of a desk analysis only and without a compulsory on the spot audit.

19. The EFSA Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain provided a risk assessment on the decontamination of fish meal, using hexane to reduce concentration of fish oil containing dioxins and PCBs. The findings indicate a 60-70% reduction, and that residues of hazardous substances (i.e. hexane) are unlikely to remain in the final product.

20. The European Commission has eliminated the separate nomination of a European Union reference laboratory for viral and bacteriological contamination of bivalve molluscs. In future these functions will be taken over by EU reference laboratories for the analysis and testing of zoonoses (Salmonella), the EU reference laboratory for Escherichia coli, including Verotoxigenic E. coli (VTEC) and the EU reference laboratory for foodborne viruses.

21. The Commission published a new Regulation that significantly tightens the restrictions on the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials. It lowers the specific migration limit (SML), which is the amount allowed to migrate from the plastic material into food while keeping it safe, and extends this restriction to coating materials, which are used to line food and drink cans. The new Regulation also extends the ban from 2011 on the use of BPA in baby bottles. The new Regulation will apply from 6 September 2018.

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