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October 2018

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Member State Fisheries discuss 2019 Baltic quotas, Norway and ICCAT
2. EU sets 2019 Total Allowable Catches for the Baltic Sea
3. Commission proposes 2019 sprat and turbot TACs and quotas for Bulgaria and Romania
4. Commission proposes 2019/2020 TACs and quotas for deep species in NE Atlantic
5. 2018 Annual Economic Report shows record profits for EU Fishing Fleet
6. Major fishing blocs sign agreement to prevent unregulated high seas Arctic fisheries
7. EU and Gambia sign new Fisheries Agreement after 22 years
8. EU and Cape Verde renew Sustainable Fisheries protocol
9. Cook Islands Court of Appeal requires new EIA for EU Fisheries Agreement
10. EUROPOL coordinates 79 arrests in Spanish illegal bluefin trade investigation
11. Commission allows Spain to balance unfished 2017 quota with overfished quota from 2013
12. EU Economic and Social Committee supports multi-annual plan for Mediterranean fisheries
13. EU and Norway agree new annual import tariff quotas for fishery products
14. EU and Korea pledged to collaborate on IUU fishing
15. EU Parliament reviews activities of European Fisheries Control Agency
16. EU Committee of the Regions opines on post-2020 EMFF
17. EU announces EUR300 million initiatives on plastic pollution and blue economy
18. Exciting programme announced for May 2019 EU Maritime Day in Lisbon
19. Blue Bioeconomy Forum stakeholder event at ALGAEUROPE conference, December 2019
20. Commission launches EMFF Blue Economy Call for proposal; EUR18.7 million available
21. Commission funds national hubs to help access WestMED project finance
22. EUMOFA published its latest edition of 2018; case study of fisheries in Ghana
23. EUMOFA publishes study "Blue bioeconomy: Situation report and perspectives"
24. Commission announces, "Blue Invest in the Mediterranean 2019", Malta, January 2019
25. UNEP, EU and network of aquaria set up campaign to eliminate single use plastics

Fish hygiene

26. During October 2018 EU RASFF publishes 45 rapid alerts for fishery products.
27. EFSA uses genome sequencing to identify Polish source of Listeria in salmon outbreak
28. EFSA reports ready to eat fishery products highest risk for Listeria in 2016
29. Commission restricts bivalve imports from Peru to eviscerated cultured scallops only
30. Following audits Myanmar permitted to export all fishery and aquaculture products to EU
31. EU-USA agree equivalence for bivalve trade; limited to certain countries/states
32. Commission recommends increased testing of Indian shrimp for veterinary medicines
33. Commission discontinues review of the maximum levels for mercury in fish
34. Commission discusses abuse of "quantum satis" limit for antioxidants
35. Commission approves refined shrimp peptide concentrate as a novel food ingredient

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Agriculture and Fisheries Council of 15th October reached a political agreement on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2019. EU Member State Fisheries Ministers also agreed on the EU quota for Norway pout and a 2018 amendment to the TAC for anchovy. Ministers also exchanged views on the position to be taken by the EU at the annual consultations with Norway in the framework of their bilateral fisheries agreement, and at the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), scheduled for 12-19 November 2018 in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

2. The October meeting of the EU's fisheries ministers set the 2019 Total Allowable catches for the Baltic Sea. For several stocks they increased the catch limits by more than that proposed by the Commission, although TACs will still fall within the MSY-range recommended by scientists. Increased TACs are therefore approved for western cod, sprat, plaice and Gulf of Riga herring. The TAC for salmon in the main Baltic basin remained the same, and TACs were reduced for eastern cod, salmon in the Gulf of Finland and for western, central and eastern herring, as well as herring in the Gulf of Bothnia. The Commission estimates that in 2019 over 98% of estimated landings in the Baltic Sea will come from sustainable fisheries. The regulation also amended 2018 TACs and quotas for EU member states targeting anchovy in the CECAF area and Norway pout in ICES areas 2a and 4.

3. The Commission proposed 2019 fishing opportunities for Bulgaria and Romania, for the stocks of sprat and turbot in the Black Sea. The proposal is a roll-over from 2018 and is based on the scientific advice from the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF). It follows the multiannual management plan for turbot fisheries in the Black Sea, approved in 2017 by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). For turbot, the Commission transposes the GFCM multiannual management plan by proposing a catch limit of 114 tonnes, which will be distributed equally between Bulgaria and Romania, as well as a limitation of turbot fishing to 180 days per year and the complete ban over a 2-month period (15 April - 15 June). These measures should allow for the stock recovery of this species. For sprat, the Commission proposes to maintain a catch limit of 11,475 tonnes, of which 70% will be allocated to Bulgaria and 30% to Romania.

4. The Commission announced its proposals for Total Allowable Catches (TAC) for a number of deep-sea fish stocks in the North-East Atlantic for 2019 and 2020. The proposal reduces the catch limits in seven fish management areas compared to 2017-2018 levels, including for alfonsinos and black scabbardfish. Fishing for orange roughy will remain prohibited. The new TACs also take into account the obligation for fishermen to bring to land all catches as of 1st January 2019. Commissioner Karmenu Vella, responsible for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries said: ""Evidence also shows that sustainable fish stocks go hand in hand with a thriving industry".

5. The Commission published the 2018 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet, which shows record levels of economic performance of the EU fishing fleet in 2016. The EU fleet registered record-high net profits of EUR 1.3 billion in 2016, a 68% increase compared to 2015. Forecasts for 2017 and 2018 also look positive. In 2016, the EU fleet's gross added value (i.e. the contribution of the fishing sector to the economy through wages and gross profit) amounted to EUR 4.3 billion, a 15% increase compared to 2015. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "It is encouraging to see an ongoing positive trend, which has led to higher profits for the fishing sector and more value added for the EU's fishing and coastal communities."

6. A new international agreement was signed to control commercial fishing in the high seas of the Arctic region. Parties to the "Agreement to prevent unregulated high seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean" are the European Union, Canada, the People's Republic of China, Denmark (in respect of Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Iceland, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United States who have jointly agreed to ban commercial fishing in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean, until scientists confirm that it can be done sustainably and until the Parties agree on mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of fish stocks. The Agreement will establish and operate a Joint Program of Scientific Research and Monitoring with the aim of improving the understanding of the ecosystems and assessing potential for sustainable fisheries. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, calling upon all Parties to swiftly proceed to the ratification of the agreement said: "This historic agreement was only possible thanks to the strong commitment and leadership shown by all Parties".

7. The EU and The Gambia signed a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and protocol, 22 years after the previous protocol expired. The agreement will allow EU vessels to fish in the Gambian waters and will cover a period of 6 years. It will offer EU vessels the possibility to fish 3,300 tons of tuna and tuna-like species, as well as 750 tons of hake per year in Gambian waters. In return, the EU will pay The Gambia a financial contribution of EUR550,000 per year. Half of this contribution will be used to strengthen the sustainable management of fisheries resources and the development of the Gambian fishing sector, especially the artisanal fisheries sector. As part of the negotiations Gambia has committed to become a member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

8. The EU and Cape Verde finalised their negotiations and agreed to renew the current Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) protocol, which expires at the end of 2018. The protocol allows EU vessels from Spain, Portugal and France to continue fishing in Cape Verdean waters, covers a period of 5 years and will offer EU vessels the possibility to fish 8,000 tonnes of tuna and tuna-like species in Cape Verdean waters. In return, the EU will pay Cape Verde a financial contribution of EUR750,000 per year. Part of this yearly contribution (EUR350,000) will be used to promote the sustainable management of fisheries in Cape Verde, focusing on reinforcement of control and surveillance capacities (including strict shark monitoring), and support of the local fishing communities. New provisions regarding cooperation between economic operators and in the field of blue economy have also been introduced.

9. The Court of Appeal of the Cook Islands, sitting in Raratonga, has upheld a claim by two environmental NGOs (Te Au O Tonga and Te Ipukarea Society) against the Government regarding the European Union Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which provides access to EU purse seine fishing vessels to Cook Islands waters. The Court agreed with the claimants that the Government breached its domestic and international legal obligations by failing to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before extending the purse seine fishery and did not properly consider the impact on by-catch species such as bigeye tuna, and the impact on local fishers. The Court directed the Government to obtain, examine and consider an EIA regarding the purse seine fishery within 12 months.

10. Europol announced that following the coordinated international Operation Tarantelo, conducted by the Spanish Guardia Civil with support of French, Italian, Maltese and Portuguese authorities, 79 individuals were arrested for conducting an illicit trade in Bluefin tuna. Investigations revealed that the fish was being traded illegally in Spain, but imported into the country through French harbours, after being caught in Italian and Maltese waters. Illegally fished Bluefin tuna was transported in false bottoms under the deck of a vessel. More than 80 tonnes of illegally caught tuna were seized, but the authorities estimated that the network trafficked a volume of over 2,500 tonnes/year (more than twice the legal trade). Several histamine poisoning cases were also attributed to the unsanitary conditions in which the fish were stored.

11. Due to underfishing of quota in 2017 (739 tonnes of mackerel quota and 843 tonnes of anchovy) the Commission has passed a regulation allowing Spain to use those unfished quantities to reduce deductions applied for earlier overfishing of quota in 2013.

12. The European Economic and Social Committee gave its opinion on the Commission's Proposal for a Regulation establishing a multi-annual plan for the fisheries exploiting demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean Sea. It notes however that there has been no reduction in real fishing mortality for key stocks due to the structural overcapacity of some fleet segments, especially trawlers. The Committee therefore supports the use of a fishing effort regime based on fishing days and by management unit for trawling and welcomes the possibility of introducing a catch limit (TACs) system in the event of failure of management by effort. The Committee recommends that the Commission make every effort to coordinate measures for managing shared species with the other countries, especially within the framework of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM).

13. Following a 2018 agreement in the form of an Exchange of Letters between the EU and Norway concerning additional trade preferences in agricultural products, the Commission has adjusted annual import tariff quotas up to 2020 for a number of fishery products originating from Norway. These concern a wide range of products, including frozen Salmonidae, dried, salted cod, frozen Herrings, Prepared or preserved Sardinella, and Mackerel.

14. On the eve of a bilateral summit meeting, the EU and the Republic of Korea pledged to work closely together to fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU), fishing, with a joint statement signed by European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr.Karmenu Vella, and Mr Kim Young-Choon, Minister for Oceans and Fisheries of the Republic of Korea. The parties agreed to exchange information about suspected IUU-activities, enhance global traceability of fishery products through an electronic catch documentation system and strengthen cooperation in the fight against IUU fishing and the promotion of sustainable fishing through education and training.

15. The European Parliament passed a resolution with observations on the implementation of the budget (EUR10 million) of the European Fisheries Control Agency for the financial year 2016. The three main achievements in 2016, were the coordination of 20,000 fisheries inspections in Union and international waters through its joint deployment plans, cooperation with other Union Agencies towards the establishment of a European Coast Guard Capacity, and implementation of the landing obligation in the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The Parliament noted that the Court of Auditors has stated that the Agency's annual accounts for the financial year 2016 are reliable. It also observed that the Agency's budget has remained unchanged for the last five years despite the increase in its missions and inspections, and that the total number of staff in activity was 56, which means that the establishment plan was 100 % filled.

16. The European Committee of the Regions published an opinion on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) beyond 2020. It recognises the importance of the European maritime and fisheries sector, which involves more than 85,000 vessels, employs over 340,000 people throughout the whole chain, and produces more than 6,000,000 tonnes of fish and seafood from fishing and aquaculture. Key challenges are considered to be reducing discards, achieving maximum sustainable yield (MSY), addressing fisheries access post-Brexit and globalisation of production and markets for marine proteins. The opinion points out that the future EMFF should focus on the importance of maritime and fisheries activities and sustainable aquaculture in sea and fresh water. It should not, according to the Committee, address alternative economic activities. It also strongly supports the call for a European environmental and maritime financial instrument to provide support for new and existing businesses in the form of bank loans and guarantees, and for better coordination and synergies with other funds.

17. At the 5th Our Ocean conference for better governance of the oceans, held in Bali, Indonesia the EU's High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini announced EUR300 million of new EU-funded initiatives, which include 23 commitments to tackle plastic pollution, make the blue economy more sustainable and improve research and marine surveillance. EUR100 million will be allocated for Research and Development (R&D) projects to tackle plastic pollution and EUR82 million for marine and maritime research, such as ecosystem assessments, seafloor mapping and innovative aquaculture systems. The new EU action also includes a EUR18.4 million investment to make the European blue economy more sustainable. Copernicus, the EU's Earth observation programme also features prominently in the list of new commitments. The programme's support will be enlarged with another EUR12.9 million for maritime security and for research dedicated to coastal environmental services. The commitments are on top of EUR550 million committed by the European Union, when it hosted the Our Ocean conference last year in Malta. Ms. Mogherini said: "The state of our oceans calls for determined global action".

18. The European Commission announced that the 2019 EU Maritime Day will be celebrated in Lisbon on 16/17 May 2019. The theme will be blue entrepreneurship, innovation and investment to transform traditional maritime sectors and boost emerging technologies and value chains. The planned events will include maritime stakeholder workshops (for businesses, science, government, NGOs), networking events, a high-level policy meeting, B2B meetings, an exhibition and thematic sessions organised by the European Commission. Applications to organise and host workshops on a range of relevant themes should be submitted before 30/11/2018. The Commission will provide the logistics related to the workshops - rooms, equipment (computer, screen, WiFi, sound equipment), catering, and communication with the European maritime community.

19. The European Commission launched the Blue Bioeconomy Forum at the high-level event on the "Sustainable and Circular Bioeconomy - the European Way" on 22 October in Brussels. The Forum will promote turning aquatic biomass into novel foods, feed, energy, and packaging and will host its first stakeholder event on 7 December in Amsterdam, back to back with the ALGAEUROPE conference. The event will be the first step towards key deliverables of the forum. Interested parties are invited to take part in a survey about the blue bioeconomy.

20. The Commission launched the latest Blue Economy Call for proposals under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, with EUR18.7 million available targeted on specific opportunities in the maritime economy. The Blue Labs section (€5 million) supports new, multidisciplinary partnerships between maritime stakeholders that can drive innovation forward in the blue economy. The Blue Careers section (€5.5 million) supports the development of innovative vocational training schemes that boost both industry engagement and entrepreneurial skills. The blue economy grants (€8.2 million) will help innovative technologies and services find the capital they need to become market ready.

21. The European Commission committed an additional EUR1.4 million under the WestMED project for national hubs to support the sustainable development of the blue economy in the Western Mediterranean Sea basin. The hubs will help stakeholders Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia to access funds under the EUR18.7 million latest Blue Economy Call (see above) by providing tailor-made, local support when preparing project proposals. Through WestMED, eight projects have already received a total funding of about EUR7.6 million, including for enhanced cooperation between Tunisian fishing communities and Italian and French operators, strengthening maritime training institutes and academies, algal forest restoration in Morocco, and preparedness in oils spill response in Algeria. A WestMED stakeholders Conference is scheduled in Algiers on 3 December, back to back with a Ministerial meeting. More information is available from

22. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2018, containing articles on First sales in Europe of Common octopus (France, Italy, Portugal) and common cuttlefish (Belgium, Italy, Portugal). It also reports on consumption of fresh mackerel in France and Portugal, and a case study of fisheries and aquaculture in Ghana.

23. EUMOFA also published a study entitled "Blue bioeconomy: Situation report and perspectives" which provides a comprehensive overview of the blue bioeconomy sector in the European Union. It reports that more than 50% of landed finfish products do not directly enter the human food chain. Associated with the expected growth in aquaculture, the demand for fishmeal and fish oil is expected to increase. Seaweeds are primarily used for producing products for agriculture (fertiliser, animal feed) and are used also for the commercial production of additives (alginate) for food and non-food applications. New uses are in development especially from cultivated algae. Blue Biotech is being gradually perceived as a potential good high-return investment. Several European countries have adopted overarching science strategies, plans and policies. No global pan-European plan, strategy or policy specifically dedicated to marine biotechnology exists at present.

24. The Commission announced "Blue Invest in the Mediterranean 2019", a match-making event to be held in Malta, January 2018, to bring together innovators and the financial community to sustainably develop the Blue Economy of the Mediterranean Sea basin, while protecting its marine resources. The Commission is inviting proposals from potential attendees, to pitch their ideas to a panel of top investors. The event will also support personalized bilateral meetings for investment and project development opportunities and generate opportunities for networking among potential clients, investors, innovators, support service providers and policy makers.

25. The United Nations Environment Programme, the EU and other international partners have launched a coalition with aquaria all over the world to campaign for the elimination of all single use plastic items. The aquaria will be supported to organise permanent activities in their facilities to raise public awareness about plastic pollution. The aim is to have on board at least 200 aquariums by 2019 to promote best practices in the use of plastic on a local, regional national and global scale. The campaign announcement follows the vote in the European Parliament on the Commission's proposal to ban certain single use plastics by 2021. So far, 106 aquariums from 33 countries, including 67 based in the European Union have already pledged support to the new coalition "World aquariums #ReadyToChange to #BeatPlasticPollution".

Fish hygiene

26. During October 2018 there were 45 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 4 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 32 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of mussels from France, 2 consignments of frozen pangasius fillets from Vietnam, 3 consignments of swordfish from Spain, 2 consignments of frozen Atlantic cod from China and 2 consignments of frozen Halibut from Canada.

27. EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published a paper reporting how they have used whole genome sequencing to identify the origins of a multi-country outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat salmon products, such as cold-smoked and marinated salmon, that has affected consumers in Denmark, Germany and France since 2015. By 8 October 2018, 12 cases, including four deaths, had been reported in the affected countries. The first cluster of cases was reported in Denmark and linked them to the consumption of ready-to-eat smoked salmon produced in Poland. Control measures were implemented, and other EU Member States and competent authorities were informed. In October 2017 France reported the detection of the same strain of Listeria in marinated salmon originating from the same Polish processing company as identified in the Danish outbreak investigation. The most recent case linked to the outbreak was notified in Germany in May 2018. The identification of the same Listeria strain in a salmon product in France and a recent new human case in Germany suggest that the source of contamination may still be active and that contaminated products have been distributed to EU countries other than Denmark. However due to the lack of whole genome sequencing data from the samples taken at the Polish processing plant, it was not possible to confirm whether the contamination occurred in the suspected plant. Protective measures have however been applied, including a new regime of cleaning and disinfecting equipment and production rooms, thermal fogging treatment, modernisation of equipment and testing of each batch before distribution. Sampling and testing studies are continuing, including sampling of Norwegian primary producers to assess the possibility that the source of contamination was during primary production. The full paper can be downloaded at:

28. EFSA provided more background information on Listeria outbreaks in the EU and reports that in 2016, among the different ready to eat (RTE) food categories and across all sampling stages, L. monocytogenes was most frequently detected in 'fishery products' (5.6%) and 'fish' (4.7%), followed by 'pork meat products other than fermented sausages' (3.1%) and 'soft and semi-soft cheeses made from raw milk' (2.5%). As in previous years, RTE fish and fishery products remained the food categories with the highest level of non-compliance for this hazard. The European Commission advises that pregnant women, the elderly and immunocompromised people are at higher risk of contracting listeriosis, and these groups should avoid these high-risk food categories.

29. After a 2008 outbreak of Hepatitis A in Peru, related to the consumption of contaminated bivalve molluscs, the Commission suspended such imports from Peru. Following a Commission audit in October 2017to evaluate the control system in place governing the production of bivalve molluscs for export to the Union, DG SANTÉ decided that the Peruvian guarantees regarding the safety of bivalves could only be accepted for eviscerated scallops from aquaculture. The Commission has therefore adopted a permanent decision to only permit the import of eviscerated aquaculture scallops from this source.

30. Following two European Commission audits in Myanmar (in November 2016 and March 2018) to evaluate the official control systems for export of fishery and aquaculture products to the EU, the Commission has placed this country on the list of countries permitted to export fishery products to the EU, under Annex II of Decision 2006/766/EC. This therefore removes the previous restrictions on EU imports from Myanmar, which were limited to "wild caught frozen fishery products".

31. Following an equivalence exercise and assessment conducted by the Commission, the Commission and Member States held an exchange of views and agreed on a draft Commission Implementing Decision amending Annex I to Decision 2006/766/EC as regards the entry for the United States of America in the list of third countries and territories from which imports of live, chilled, frozen or processed bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods for human consumption are permitted. The new entry for the United States will add two States only to the list of third countries complying with EU import requirements for these products (Massachusetts and Washington). As part of the equivalence process, exports of bivalve molluscs from Netherlands and Spain will also be authorised from import to the USA. In future DG SANTÉ highlighted that the most important feature of the new Equivalence Agreement is that FDA has agreed that additional EU Member States could be listed to export these products to the US on the basis of the guarantees provided by the European Commission i.e. without the need for FDA to carry-out on the spot audits before approving them.

32. A Commission audit to India from 16 to 27 April 2018 identified several deficiencies as regards the control of residues and contaminants, including controls on veterinary medicinal products, in animals and animal products. The findings were discussed with the EU Member States, who were advised to extend the scope of testing of imported aquaculture products from India, to include macrolides, aminoglycosides and beta-lactams.

33. The Commission announced to Member States that it has decided to discontinue for the time being the review of the maximum levels (MLs) for mercury in fish. Member States are therefore encouraged to place high importance on the provision of advice to consumers, with reference to the frequency of fish consumption and the fish species consumed, considering the consumer groups at higher risk.

34. The Committee considered the use of certain antioxidants (e.g. ascorbic acid-ascorbates and citric acid-citrates) used in meat and fish products, with authorised regulatory levels set at "quantum satis". Several cases have been identified of the use of high levels of these compounds. The Committee unanimously concluded that such compounds should only be applied to the extent required to achieve the intended purpose i.e. an antioxidant effect. The use of higher levels e.g. to mask or replace the use of preservatives, to avoid regulatory restrictions for preservatives and to extend the shelf-life and fresh appearance as if preservatives were used, is not in compliance with the quantum satis principle and thus not authorised. Specifically, for the use of ascorbic acid-ascorbates (E 300-302) in tuna loins, the Commission indicated that the level of no more than 300mg/kg is regarded as sufficient to achieve the desired antioxidant effect.

35. The Commission and Member States held an exchange of views on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation, authorising the placing on the market of a refined shrimp peptide concentrate as a novel food ingredient under Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283 of the European Parliament and of the Council. The proposal was approved.

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