FishFiles Lite Newsletter
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May 2018

Dear <:fullname:>,

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Common Fisheries Policy
1. Commission proposes new legislation to reduce marine litter from plastic fishing gear
2. EU denounces the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Comoros.
3. EU adopts protocol for Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritius.
4. Commission announces five-year project to fight IUU fishing in West Africa
5. Commission introduces derogations for 24 small trawlers fishing in French waters
6. EU Parliament publishes studies on landing obligation and choke species
7. Commission calls for stakeholder comments on EMFF direct management component
8. Commission reaffirms commitment to bluefin tuna controls
9. Stop fishing notice for Belgian vessels targeting undulate ray
10. Commissioner Vella announces more uniform approach to fisheries enforcement
11. EUMOFA publishes its latest edition

Fish hygiene
12. Rapid alerts were notified for 62 consignments of fishery products 13. EFSA reports on EU tuna-related outbreaks of histamine intoxication in 2017
14. Europol/Interpol publishes results of investigation of EU tuna fraud.
15. DG SANTÉ publishes results of audit on Spanish tuna sector and illegal additives
16. DG SANTÉ publishes results of audit on Indian exports of fishery products to the EU
17. DG SANTÉ publishes results of audit on Papua New Guinea exports of tuna to EU
18. Commission adopts new regulation on labelling of origin of primary food ingredients
19. Commission considers amending maximum level of mercury in canned pet foods
20. Commission considers EU guide to good practice for smoked/salted/marinated fish
21. EFSA updates risk assessment of detoxification of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission announced its proposal for new legislation to address marine litter, which will introduce new controls on derelict fishing gear (nets, lines, pots, traps etc.). Fishing gear accounts for about a third of marine litter found in European seas, or over 11,000 tonnes per year. Producers of plastic fishing gear will be required to cover the costs of waste collection from port reception facilities and its transport and treatment, as well as the costs of awareness-raising measures. The regulation also limits the use of single-use plastics, much of which also ends up in the marine environment.

2. The European Council has denounced the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Union of Comoros. The Decision follows the issue of an IUU red card to Comoros in 2017 (as a non-cooperating third country) and subsequent persistent failures to discharge its duties under international law as a flag, port, coastal or market State. The denunciation will take effect after six months but will be cancelled if in the meanwhile Comoros is withdrawn from the list of non-cooperating third countries.

3. The European Council has approved and adopted the protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and the financial contribution provided for by the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritius. The Commission is empowered to renegotiate adjustments in relation to fishing opportunities, modalities of the sectoral support and fisheries management measures.

4. The European Commission announced the start of the five-year PESCAO project, European Development Fund (EDF), which will include a component aiming to improve the fight against Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing activities in Western Africa. The project will develop a regional fishing policy, improve regional coordination against IUU fishing and improve fish stock management at regional level. The EUR 15 million project is one of the many significant commitments to ocean conservation made by the European Union at the 2017 "Our Ocean Conference" hosted by the EU in Malta. The project will be implemented in collaboration with the European Fisheries Control Agency in Vigo.

5. The Commission has passed a regulation which provides a new derogation to the ban on the use of certain net gears above seagrass beds and towed gears within 3 nautical miles of the coast or within the 50 m isobath. The derogation applies to 24 small 'gangui' trawlers fishing in certain territorial waters of France (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur).

6. The European Parliament's Committee on PECH published two research studies on the landing obligation and choke species in multispecies and mixed demersal fisheries, in the North Sea and South Western Waters. In respect of the North Sea the study concludes that real choke issues have not yet been observed, but that the greatest risks are in relation to Northern hake in trawl fisheries and North Sea plaice in small-meshed beam trawl fisheries. These are respectively due to historical relative stability keys for hake not being aligned with biological changes in the ecosystem and large catches of undersized plaice in the sole fisheries. With regard to South Western Waters it was found that there are 3 potential stocks with a high risk of being choke species; whiting in the Bay of Biscay, horse mackerel (widely distributed) and alfonsinos (a deep-sea stock). France and Spain are the countries most likely to be affected. The studies conclude that CFP tools have until now been sufficient to allow these fisheries to continue operating under the landing obligation. For most species the success of the landing obligation is highly dependent on Member States' voluntary quota swaps. However not all of the potential choke stock problems can be resolved through the existing mitigation toolbox. In the case of elasmobranchs (cartilaginous fish of a group that comprises the sharks, rays, and skates) in the North Sea, which combine specific characteristics of being sensitive but valuable bycatches, there is no simple management option which offers an adequate balance between exploitation and conservation. Additional tools such as target ranges (within the MSY objective), combined de minimis catches for non-directed stocks, and better real time information sharing may also be required in future. The European Parliament's Committee on PECH hosted a workshop to present the results of the studies.

7. The European Commission called for fishery sector stakeholders, authorities and the public to express their views regarding the direct management component (i.e. implemented by the Commission) of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The component accounts for 10% of the EMFF (c.EUR647 million over the period 2014-2020) and is earmarked for measures managed directly by the services of the European Commission and the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises. Approximately 100 contracts under this direct management part of the programme are signed each year. The views submitted will contribute to the interim review being conducted by the Commission. Comments may be submitted until 3 September 2018 at:

8. The European Commission reaffirmed its commitment to implement the international control measures for bluefin tuna during the forthcoming season (26 May to 24 June), in which the stock will be exploited by industrial purse seiners flagged by EU Member States.

9. A stop fishing notice was published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Belgian vessels fishing for undulate ray in Union waters of 7e.

10. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for the Environment, Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, announced that the Commission will develop proposals to modernise and simplify the way in which fishing rules are monitored and complied with. Some of the measures proposed are strengthened and more uniform enforcement, a more reliable and complete fisheries data system to include vessels

11. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2018, containing including articles on Great Atlantic scallop (Belgium, France, the UK), the Common edible cockle (Denmark, Portugal, Spain) and Consumption of fresh carp in Germany and Poland.

Fish hygiene

12. During May 2018 there were 62 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 4 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 40 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and 3 rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 3 consignments of live oysters from France, 2 consignments of live oysters from the Netherlands, 2 consignments of frozen cuttlefish from India, 3 consignments of chilled mackerel from Spain and 3 consignments of live snails from Morocco.

13. EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority, reported on outbreaks of histamine intoxication which occurred in some EU countries in 2017, linked to consumption of tuna. Fish and fish products were implicated in 20 histamine outbreaks (out of a total of 23 of 80 outbreaks where the vehicle could be identified). Of these 5 were related to tuna. Despite detailed follow up in the supply chain of all cases, it was not possible to identify a single event at a specific point in each food supply chain (e.g. incorrect storage at a specific company) that could be considered the origin of all clusters of human cases. The study concluded that due to the nature of histamine and the conditions that favour its production, it is likely that several concurrent factors occurred in several stages along the food chain. With temperature being one of the main factors influencing the production of histamine, it is considered that temperature abuse during post-harvest chilling, storage and/or processing has played an important role in these events.

14. Europol/Interpol published the results of an operation in 2018, launched following a tip off from whistle blowers, to detect tuna intended for canning being fraudulently sold as fresh tuna. The investigation took place in 11 countries (Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), and found that tuna for canning was regularly being illegally treated with substances (in some case not permitted) that enhance the colour, leading to a misleading impression of its freshness. The investigation resulted in 51 tonnes of tuna being seized, and authorities in Spain and France are conducting judicial inquiries against several fishery business operators. The Commission launched a joint EU/Spanish mission to follow up on the practices, followed by an audit by DG SANTÉ.

15. The Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety published the results of an audit to assess the control systems applied by Spain in the production and placing on the market of tuna and tuna products, and to follow up on several recent Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed notifications. The mission focused on the eligibility of raw materials, outbreaks of histamine toxicity in Spanish tuna, the use of brine frozen tuna for purposes other than canning, and the use of additives to maintain the colour of fresh tuna loins. A previous joint EU/Spanish mission had found that one establishment had illegally used vegetable extract (containing nitrites), and that permitted additives (ascorbic and citric acids and their salts) were injected by several establishments in excess of quantum satis level, suggesting that they were used to mask colour defects in brine frozen tuna intended for canning only, and selling it for direct human consumption in contravention of EU rules. Although the Competent Authorities had adequately followed-up the RASFF notifications on histamine, the mission found that some fishery products establishments demonstrated non-compliances in relation to temperature controls, HACCP and hygiene conditions and that measures to correct previously identified problems had not been implemented by all the autonomous authorities concerned. One regional Competent Authority had positively declined to do so. The MAPAMA (Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and Environment, responsible for the primary production of fishery products) and MSSSI (Ministry of Health Social Services and Equality, responsible for all successive stages of fishery products production) along with AECOSAN (Spanish Agency for Consumers, Food Safety and Nutrition) and through SGSE (Sub-directorate General for External Health), provided the audit team with an action plan taking account of and addressing the audit findings.

16. The Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety published the results of an audit to assess the control systems applied by India to exports of fishery products to the EU, which took place in November 2017. The mission found that the official control system is based on legislation and control procedures which, if implemented as foreseen, should be capable of providing adequate assurance that such exports meet the requirements set out in the EU health certificate. However, implementation of the system was found to be wanting in relation to the aquaculture sector, where there was insufficient inspection and control, and farms producing for export were subject to potential contamination from uncontrolled adjacent aquaculture activity. Insufficient resources were applied to controls of primary products (aquaculture and fishing vessels). In addition, there was poor coordination between Competent Authorities applying sanitary controls on fishing vessels and landing sites. The recording of inspections was also insufficient. The mission concluded that the deficiencies noted do not allow the Competent Authority, the Export Inspection Council (EIC) within the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, to guarantee that relevant EU conditions are met, and recommended a series of corrective actions, subsequently addressed to the Commission's satisfaction in an action plan agreed between the parties.

17. The Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety has published the results of an audit to assess the control systems applied by Papua New Guinea to exports of tuna products to the EU, which took place in November 2017. The mission found that the official control system is, overall, implemented adequately along the production chain. However, the legislation did not cover all applicable European Union rules (for example in relation to temperature of chilled fishery products and HACCP methodology), there were gaps in the knowledge of official staff, and deficiencies in respect of the application of HACCP principles in freezer vessels. Furthermore, in respect of the export certification of frozen whole round fish, the Competent Authority was not able to establish the EU eligibility of all raw materials imported from other third countries. These deficiencies undermine the reliability of the guarantees provided by the Competent Authority, the National Fisheries Authority, with regard to applicable EU requirements in these areas. Following the mission findings, the Competent Authority subsequently submitted guarantees in the form of a plan of corrective actions.

18. Following the Agreement of Member States, the European Commission announced that it has adopted a new regulation on the labelling of the origin of the primary ingredients in food. The new regulation will improve transparency regarding the origin of food sold on the EU market, by requiring that the origin of primary ingredient be indicated, if different from the origin of the food. The presentation of such information is also harmonised. There will be a certain level of flexibility for food business operators in order to take into account various methods of food processing. The legislation will apply from 1 April 2020.

19. The Commission's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Animal Nutrition) met in February 2018 and considered safety issues concerning animal feeds using fishery products. This included an amendment to the Directive on undesirable substances in animal feed, relating to the maximum level of mercury in canned fish-based feed materials for direct consumption by cats and dogs.

20. The Commission's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Biological Safety of the Food Chain) also considered a presentation by the European Salmon Smokers Association, on its revised EU guide to good practice for smoked fish and/or salted and/or marinated fishery products. Member States support the guide which will be presented for endorsement during the next meeting of the Biological Safety section of the Committee.

21. EFSA provided the Commission with an update on its risk assessment activities in relation to dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs detoxification processes. EFSA has adopted assessments concerning detoxification of fish oil by physical filtration with activated carbon, and of fish meal by replacement of fish oil and hexane extraction.

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