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April 2018

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission issues information notice to EU fishery sector stakeholders on Brexit
2. DG MARE publishes the latest edition of its facts and figures on the CFP
3. EU Ag and Fish Ministers discuss Western Waters multi-annual plan
4. Commission adopts ICCAT measures for conservation of Mediterranean swordfish
5. DG MARE publishes a "roadmap" for evaluation of eel recovery plan
6. Stop fishing notices published for several species
7. Commission publishes evaluation of EU-Madagascar fisheries agreement
8. Commission publishes evaluation of EU-Cabo Verde fisheries agreement
9. Commission publishes study on stock status of Atlantic sharks
10. EU Parliament publishes a study on Mauritanian fisheries sector
11. Negotiations start for renewal of EU Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement
12. EUMOFA publishes edition with items of Common sole, flounder and EU imports
13. EUMOFA publishes case study on price structure in the supply chain for turbot
14. EU recognises Lough Neagh Pollan (Coregonus pollan) as PDO
15. Commission publishes consultation strategy for evaluation of EU aquaculture planning
16. EU Economic and Social Committee supports blue economy in the W.Mediterranean
17. EU Parliament's Fisheries Committee publishes "the Trawler" in-house publication

Fish hygiene

18. Rapid alerts were notified for 34 consignments of fishery products
19. EU DG SANTÈ reports on audit of Solomon Islands sanitary controls for tuna

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission issued a notice to EU fishery sector stakeholders concerning the withdrawal from the EU of the United Kingdom, and EU rules on fisheries and aquaculture. It notes that according to the international law of the sea, fishing vessels wishing to engage in fishing activities in waters under the sovereignty or jurisdiction of a third country (i.e. UK) are required to obtain a fishing authorisation from that third country. However, they will also require authorisation of their flag member state, to which the Commission may object if legal conditions are not complied with. The notice also indicates that UK vessels may only engage in fishing activities in Union waters if in possession of an authorisation issued by the European Commission. The notice also indicates that EU imports of fishery products from the UK will need to be accompanied by validated catch certificates under Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008, certifying that the catches concerned have been made in accordance with applicable laws, regulations and international conservation and management measures. EU labelling and sanitary requirements will also need to be met.

2. The European Commission DG MARE has published the latest edition of its facts and figures on the EU's Common Fisheries Policy. Sections include state of fish stocks, fishing fleet, employment, fisheries and aquaculture production, international trade, consumption and EU support for the fishery sector.

3. The EU's Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers met in Luxembourg and discussed the Commission's proposal to establish a multi-annual plan for fishing in the Western Waters, which would combine the five existing single-species based multi-annual plans (covering herring, hake, sole and Norway lobster) into a single plan. Ministers were generally in favour. The Council also adopted a decision to open negotiations with Morocco for the amendment of the existing Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) and its Protocol.

4. The Commission adopted a proposal to introduce stronger legal measures to help the recovery of the Mediterranean swordfish, following the adoption of International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas Recommendation 16-05. The approach establishes a recovery plan which reflects the different types of fishing gear and techniques and will add quota measures to a closed period (January to March) and the derogation from the landing obligation which were already integrated in EU legislation at an earlier stage. The EU submitted its fishing and inspection plan to the ICCAT Secretariat on 15 March 2018. It includes the number of EU vessels authorised to fish Mediterranean swordfish in 2018: 7537 of which 5464 are recreational vessels and 1918 are long-liners smaller than 24m.

5. The Commission's DG MARE published a "roadmap" for its evaluation of Council Regulation (EC) No.1100/2007 establishing measures for the recovery of the stock of European eel. By the end of Q1 2019, the study will assess the effectiveness of the measures, and in particular the contribution of the national Eel Management Plans to the recovery of the stocks.

6. Stop fishing notice has been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Spanish vessels fishing for blue marlin, white marlin, Belgian vessels fishing for undulate ray, French vessels fishing for anglerfish, and red seabream and all European Union vessels fishing for redfish in NAFO 3M area.

7. The Commission has published an ex-post evaluation of the first 3 years of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Madagascar, and ex ante evaluation of a future protocol. The study found that the Protocol, which provides fishing opportunities for 94 EU tuna and shark fishing vessels in the Madagascar zone in exchange for an annual EU financial contribution of EUR 1,566,250 (for the first two years), resulted in an annual utilisation of fishing opportunities of 54% over the period 2015-2017. Catches by EU tuna vessels over the first three years of the Protocol were close to 7,700 tonnes per year, representing a first sale value of approximately EUR 12.5 million. However, the 250 tonnes catch limit fixed by the Protocol for shark species was exceeded by 5% in 2016 and by 9% in 2017. Sectoral support from the Protocol provided funding for the Fisheries Monitoring Centre and the tuna statistical unit, as well as strengthening monitoring, control and surveillance capacities, and sanitary controls. The economic analysis shows that EU vessel operations in the Madagascar fishing zone have been profitable with every EUR 1 invested by the EU in the access payments supporting the creation of EUR 10.42, with EUR5.40 generated for the EU fishing sector. The study recommends the renewal of the Protocol, and suggests that future sectoral support should be better coordinated with actions foreseen under the World Bank SWIOFISH 2 prioritise continued support for MCS.

8. The Commission has published an ex-post evaluation of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Cabo Verde, and ex ante evaluation of a future protocol. The study found that the Protocol, which provides fishing opportunities for 71 EU tuna and shark fishing vessels to the Cabo Verde fishing zone, in exchange for an annual EU financial contribution of EUR 550,000, resulted in an annual utilisation of fishing opportunities ranging from 58% to 68%, with pole and line the least utilised segment (no greater than 33%). Since 2011 annual catches by EU tuna vessels have averaged 6,539 tonnes, but reached just under 10,000 tonnes in 2017, almost double the reference tonnage set by the Protocol. Catches are dominated by Spanish vessels, accounting for 98% of the catch in 2017, of which tuna represented 70% and blue shark 20%. Many of the technical clauses of the Protocol have been satisfactorily implemented, but there have been problems with incompatibility of EU and Cabo Verdean VMS systems, and in implementation of observer schemes. The economic analysis shows that EU tuna vessels operations in the Cabo Verdean fishing zone have been profitable with every EUR 1 invested by the EU in the access payments supporting the creation of EUR 8.09 for the EU fishing sector. The study recommends the renewal of the Protocol, but suggests that future sectoral support should prioritise continued support for MCS, in particular completion of implementation of VMS and ERS systems, sea and aerial surveillance, training of national officers and introduction of a national observer system.

9. The Commission has published the results of a consultancy contract to strengthen scientific advice for the conservation of pelagic sharks associated with fishing activity under EU Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements in the Atlantic Ocean. The activities reported include 1) designing an observer programme; 2) designing and implementing a tagging programme; 3) analysing potential local depletion of sharks in the Cabo Verde region based on the catch composition, catch rates (CPUEs) and size distribution; 4) identifying biological and ecological sensitive areas; and, 5) coordination and communication. The study found that there was unlikely to be local depletion of blue and shortfin mako sharks in the Cabo Verde region, especially as there are no signs of decreasing local abundance (biomass) inside the EEZ. However, there is a relatively large catch of juvenile shortfin mako shark which may represent a juvenile aggregation in this region. The recommendations from this project are: 1) future implementation of the observer programme for longliners; 2) possible continuation of the tagging programme, focusing both on the main shark species and on some of the other less common bycatch species; and, 3) maintaining the detailed data collection programme from the fisheries operating in the region.

10. The European Parliament published a study on the fisheries sector of Mauritania, prepared for the delegation of the PECH Committee which visited the country from 2 to 6 April 2018. The note provides a description of the fisheries in Mauritania's maritime areas and an analysis of the fisheries agreement with the European Union.

11. The Commission announced that successful completion of the first round of negotiations with Morocco for the renewal of the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the parties. Further discussions will be held in the near future.

12. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2018, containing articles on Common sole (Belgium, France, Italy), European flounder (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), extra-EU imports, and weekly average EU import price conditions for selected products from selected countries of origin.

13. EUMOFA has published a case study of "Price Structure in the Supply Chain for Turbot". In 2015, farmed turbot production reached more than 65.000 tonnes globally, with EU production accounting for 16%. Turbot is mainly sold through large-scale retailers and fishmongers in Spain, but is mainly consumed out-of home in France and the Netherlands. In Spain, consumption mainly relies on farmed turbot (due to the large national production), while consumption in France and the Netherlands rely mostly on wild catches.

14. The EU has recognised the Lough Neagh Pollan (Coregonus pollan), a freshwater member of the Salmonidae family from Northern Ireland UK, as a protected designation of origin. Most of the commercial catch is exported to Switzerland.

15. The Commission published its consultation strategy for the Mid-term evaluation of the Open Method of Coordination for EU aquaculture, which was introduced in 2014, to support the development of Multiannual National Aquaculture Plans which outline aquaculture development targets until 2020. To help achieve these goals, the Commission has held regular best practice workshops for national authorities to share and coordinate knowledge and exchange information on simplification and effective regulation. The evaluation of the coordination approach will include a public consultation, targeted consultation of the Aquaculture Advisory Council (AAC), a written consultation addressed to the national authority in each Member State, and five case studies in selected member states, consisting of interviews with the national authorities, industry and NGOs, conducted with the help of an external consultant.

16. The European Economic and Social Committee of the European Parliament provided an opinion on the recent communication regarding the development of the blue economy in the western Mediterranean. The Committee is broadly supportive of the proposed measures which will address (1) a safer and more secure maritime space; (2) a smart and resilient blue economy with a focus on skills development, research and innovation; (3) better governance of the sea. However, it also suggests a thematic broadening to include biodiversity and conservation and intercultural communication, as well as a more concrete strategy for supporting small and very small (-scale) productive activities.

17. The European Parliament's Fisheries Committee published the April Edition of the Trawler, its in-house publication. Highlights include items on: 1) the final adoption of the text on the "Management, conservation and control measures applicable in the Convention Area of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation; 2) adoption of reports on "Optimisation of the value chain in the EU fishing sector" and "Implementation of control measures for establishing the conformity of fisheries products with access criteria to the EU market"; and 3) update with the Commission on the ongoing cases regarding Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and non-cooperating countries.

Fish hygiene

18. During April 2018 there were 34 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 13 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 4 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 14 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and 1 rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 9 consignments of live oysters from France, and 3 consignments of shrimp from France.

19. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG Health and Food Safety has reported on an audit mission to the Solomon Islands in November 2017 to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products derived from tuna species intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that although the overall official control system is based on adequate procedures, legislation was found not to align with EU requirements in a number of areas (temperature limits for chilled products, option to store fuel in fish holds, conditions for recirculation of water for thawing, the option to keep manual temperature records for stored frozen fish, the need to freeze rapidly in all circumstances). This resulted in a number of deficiencies identified by the audit team in a tuna processing establishment, as well as deficiencies in the application of HACCP principles onboard freezer vessels, which undermined the guarantees regarding export conditions being at least equivalent to those applied by EU legislation. The report addresses recommendations to the Solomon Islands Competent Authority (the Environmental Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services) aimed at rectifying identified shortcomings and enhancing the control system in place.

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