FishFiles Lite Newsletter
. - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . - . - . - . : . by MEGAPESCA

FishFiles Lite is a free newsletter summarising key developments in EU fisheries and fish trade policy and legislation and is currently being received by over 15,000 fisheries professionals each month.

To upgrade to FishFiles Professional and receive full access to the information summarised in this newsletter and also to be able to search for, and download, files from the Megapesca website, which now contains over 5,000 files, send an email to Fish Files Manager at

December 2018

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU Fisheries Ministers set 2019 TACs and quotas for Atlantic and North Sea fish stocks
2. Discard plans for 2019-2021 finalised for EU demersal fisheries; in force from 1 January
3. Ministers set 2019 TACS and quotas for sprat and turbot in the Black Sea
4. EU publishes regulation on TACs and quotas for deep sea stocks for 2019 and 2020.
5. EU Parliament and Council agree on multi-annual plan for fisheries in Western waters
6. Commission announces public consultation on EU's eel regulation,
7. Commission deducts 2018 quota from EU Member States for previous over-fishing
8. European Ocean Conference 2018 discusses future of ocean data collection
9. Stop fishing notices published for numerous stocks and fleets due to quota exhaustion
10. EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands agreed on North East Atlantic TAC for mackerel
11. EU and the Faroe Islands agreed 2019 exchange of quota and mutual access
12. Commission updates its blacklist of vessels engaged in IUU fishing
13. Commission adopts regulation on harmonised fisheries control and inspection programmes
14. EU hosts Workshop on Digital Tools for MCS of Small-Scale Fisheries
15. EU Council authorises signature of new EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement
16. WCPFC adopts new measure to protect pelagic shark from fish aggregating devices
17. EU publishes autonomous quota tariffs for the import of fishery products 2019-2020
18. Commission approves protected geographical indication for smoked Pontic Danube shad
19. Eurobarometer survey on EU consumer attitudes to fish consumption
20. European Parliament publishes study on integration in EU fishery sector
21. Western Mediterranean countries to strengthen cooperation on blue economic development
22. EU to act on marine litter from single-use plastics and derelict fishing gear
23. UN General Assembly advance negotiations on high seas fishing
24. European Parliament publishes short review of the Fisheries of Vietnam

Fish hygiene

25. Rapid alerts were notified for 43 consignments of fishery products
26. EFSA highlights health risks of environmental contaminants (PFOS and PFOA) in fish

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU's Fisheries Ministers in Agriculture and Fisheries Council met on the 17-18/12/2018 and reached agreement on 2019 catch limits for the 89 main commercial fish stocks in the Atlantic and North Sea. Quotas will increase in line with scientific advice, on stocks of northern hake, northern haddock, horse mackerel, seabass and some stocks of Norway lobster. However TACs were reduced for Herring in the Celtic Sea by 53%, Nephrops in the waters around Ireland by 32% and sole in the Eastern channel by 26% - all three in line with the MSY advice. An EU wide 3 months closure period was also announced (to be applied between August and February) for all fisheries of European eel at all life stages, including glass eel, applicable to all marine waters and to brackish waters. The number of fish stocks managed at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels will increase next year to 59 and the Commission claims that 99% of expected landings in 2019 in the EU waters of the Baltic, North Sea and the Atlantic, will be fished at sustainable levels.

2. The Commission has adopted a series of regulation establishing the discard plans for demersal fisheries in South-Western waters, North-Western waters, North Sea waters and Mediterranean waters for the period 2019-2021. The plans include a number of de minimis derogations, as well as survivability exemptions for certain species which may be returned to the sea live. The regulations enters into force from 1 January 2019. A number of parallel measures were announced to limit the impacts of choke situations in the implementation of the landing obligation. These include limited by-catch quotas and the creation of a common quota pool based on contributions from several Member States.

3. The Council also adopted the Commission's proposal for fishing opportunities on sprat and turbot in the Black Sea for 2019, in line with the turbot multi-annual plan adopted last year by the GFCM. The Regulation was published.

4. The EU published the regulation setting the fishing opportunities for deep sea stocks (Black scabbardfish, Alfonsinos, Roundnose grenadier, Roughhead grenadier and Red seabream) in the EU waters for 2019 and 2020. Fishing for orange roughy and deepsea shark species is prohibited.

5. The European Parliament and the Council agreed on the multi-annual plan for management of fisheries in the Western waters, based on the Commission's proposals, and which aims to restore and maintain stocks at sustainable levels, while ensuring social and economic viability for the fishermen operating in the region. The plan covers fisheries for species from the North and West of Scotland over the Gulf of Cadiz down to Madeira in the South, which involve more than 48,000 fishermen and 18,000 vessels, including both the demersal and the pelagic sector. Commissioner Karmenu Vella stated: "I am very pleased with today's political agreement, as it signals the EU's determination to protect the future of our fisheries in the Western Waters on the long term."

6. The Commission has announced a public consultation on the evaluation of the EU's eel regulation, which introduced measures for the recovery of the stock of the European eel by establishing Eel Management Plans which include limiting professional and recreational fisheries, facilitating fish migration through rivers and restocking inland waters with young fish. Comments from interested stakeholders may be submitted until 8 March 2019.

7. The Commission adopted a regulation setting out deductions from EU Member States fishing quotas for 2018 due to over-fishing of quotas in previous years. The main offenders were Belgium (280% of quota for undulate ray) and Spain (187% of Greenland halibut).

8. The European Commission supported the European Ocean Conference 2018, attended by more than 300 stakeholders to discuss the future of ocean observing, monitoring and data collection efforts in Europe. The conference highlighted the need to connect different ocean observing communities to achieve blue economy and societal objectives. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries noted that "cross-sector international collaboration is a must and coordination and sharing is a Commission priority." All presentations, the Call to Action and photos of the event are available at

9. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Belgian vessels fishing for megrims, anglerfish, hake, skates and rays, common sole, plaice and whiting; Polish vessels fishing for cod, Spanish vessels fishing for bigeye tuna in the Atlantic Ocean, haddock, tusk, and alfonsinos; French vessels fishing for plaice, herring, saithe, ling, and Northern albacore in the Atlantic Ocean; Portuguese vessels fishing for undulate ray and all European Union vessels fishing for cod in NAFO 3M area.

10. The EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands agreed on the TAC for the mackerel fishery in the North East Atlantic at a meeting in Bergen (Norway) on 29 November. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 2019 was set at 653,438 tonnes, which represents a 20% reduction compared to 2018. It was also agreed to extend the current trilateral sharing arrangement for another two years, possibly three, if required. Other Coastal States such as Iceland were not able to join the agreement. At the EU's request, Coastal States also agreed to further reduce the catches in a progressive manner, by 2020, in order to be fully in line with the independent scientific advice received from the International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES). The parties may fish their quotas in their respective zones of fisheries jurisdiction and in international waters.

11. The EU and the Faroe Islands agreed on the annual exchange of quota and mutual access arrangements for 2019. The parties agreed to grant reciprocal access to fish 24,690 tonnes of mackerel for 2019 (compared to 30,877 tonnes in 2018). For blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring, the reciprocal access will be respectively 22,500 tonnes and 4,500 tonnes, to be fished in one another's waters (compared to 21,500 tonnes and 4,000 tonnes the previous year).

12. The European Commission updated its blacklist of vessels engaged in IUU fishing, now with well over 100 vessels, mostly of unknown registry.

13. The Commission adopted a regulation which establishes new specific control and inspection programmes for certain fisheries in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Western Waters of the North Eastern Atlantic, the Eastern Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea. The regulation seeks to create a level playing field by setting a harmonised methodology for the risk assessment, which will permit the European Fisheries Control Agency to establish a regional risk management strategy to be implemented through a joint deployment plan. Member States should also prepare and send to the Commission yearly reports on the implementation of the specific control and inspection programmes.

14. The European Commission (DG MARE), EU Member States, European Parliament, Council of the European Union, Advisory Councils and other EU stakeholders participated in the Workshop on Digital Tools for Small-Scale Fisheries organised in the context of the Expert Group on Fisheries Control. Attendees shared knowledge, solutions, current trends and best practices on digital monitoring and catch reporting tools for small-scale vessels. The discussions will feed into the revision of the European Commission's proposal for a new Control Regulation.

15. The EU Council authorised the signing of the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco, and its Implementation Protocol. The President of the Council is authorised to designate the person(s) empowered to sign.

16. The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted a new measure to reduce the risk of entanglement of pelagic shark from fish aggregating devices (FADs) used for tuna fishing. The Commission also decided to retain all the main provisions of the existing conservation and management measure for bigeye, yellowfin and skipjack tuna and set a Target Reference Point for South Pacific Albacore aimed at reducing the level of current catches.

17. The EU published its autonomous quota tariffs for the import of fishery products for the period 2019-2020. Duty free tariff lines are opened for a wide range of fishery products intended for further processing including fish, molluscs and crustaceans.

18. The Commission approved the protected geographical indications ('Scrumbie de Dunare afumata') for the smoked Pontic shad from the Danube Delta.

19. The European Commission published a Eurobarometer survey on EU consumer choices regarding fishery and aquaculture products. It found that more than four out of ten Europeans eat seafood at least once a week at home. Price and availability are the main barriers to increase consumption. Regional, national and EU products enjoy a very strong consumer preference. The EU spends twice as much money on fish per capita as US consumers. Key choice factors were: Because we think it is healthy (74%) and tasty (59%). The supermarket or grocery story is where most buy their seafood, although many (40%) also prefer the local fishmonger. The preferred products are fresh or frozen, only 40% buy breaded fish products or ready meals, but only 27% buy the whole fish, not cleaned or fileted. European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella said: "It is our responsibility, as policy makers, to secure that our citizens can enjoy these tasty products in the long term."

20. The European Parliament's Fisheries Committee (PECH) published a study on the EU Seafood Industry Integration in 22 Member States of the EU (all with a coastline). The study considers the drivers and mechanisms of both structural and non-structural horizontal and vertical integration in the seafood and identify trends in relation to the regulatory environment, natural resources and firm performance. High levels of vertical integration are found in the pelagic sector. Generally, wages and salaries of total crew decreased by 5.5% on average when the average number of vessels by enterprise increase by one vessel. One key factor driving vertical integration between fishing and processing is ease of access (for example in obtaining licenses or quota). Variations in the mechanisms of quota allocation were not considered to have much impact. segment have engaged in structural vertical integration.

21. Ministers of 10 Western Mediterranean countries (Algeria, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia) with the support of the European Commission adopted a declaration to strengthen maritime regional cooperation under the WestMED initiative to promotes the development of their sustainable blue economies. The 10 countries agreed on a common roadmap involving regional maritime stakeholders (businesses, researchers and institutes, national and local authorities). Project Development Labs with practitioners from across the Western Mediterranean and beyond will help to create strong partnerships and develop strategic projects.

22. The Commission announced that all EU institutions have agreed on new and ambitious legislation to curb marine litter from single-use plastics, as well as from derelict fishing gear. They also announced an international EUBeachCleanup campaign supported by the European External Action Service on third countries.

23. The United Nations General Assembly adopted two resolutions concerning the oceans and the Law of the Sea and sustainable fisheries. The resolutions call on the international community to strengthen implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and harmonize national legislation with it. It also reaffirms the importance of long-term conservation, management and sustainable use of the living marine resources. The meeting also made progress in the negotiations of the new UNCLOS implementing agreement for areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), better known as the 'high seas', and several members, including the EU, reiterated their commitment to conclude negotiations on fisheries subsidies in the context of the World Trade Organisation.

24. The PECH Committee of the European Parliament published a short review of the Fisheries of Vietnam.

Fish hygiene

25. During December 2018 there were 43 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 27 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 4 consignments of live mussels from Italy, 10 consignments of swordfish from Spain and 2 consignments of frozen swordfish from Indonesia

26. The European Food Safety Authority published an article setting out the quantitative risks to human health related to the presence of perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in food. These are persistent organic environmental contaminants derived from industrial processes and which have been associated with increased risk of chronic kidney disease in the general US population. Fish and seafood are amongst the main sources of exposure. EFSA has recommended The EFSA Panel established a tolerable weekly intake (TWI) of 13 ng/kg body weight (bw) per week for PFOS and 6 ng/kg bw per week for PFOA. For both compounds, exposure of a considerable proportion of the European population population exceeds the proposed TWI.

  • FishFiles Lite is a free service provided by MegaPesca. To receive this newsletter free of charge every month send your name and e-mail address to the FishFiles Manager at
  • To upgrade to FishFiles Professional and receive full access to the information summarised in this newsletter and also to be able to search and download files from the Megapesca website which now contains over 5,000 files contact the FishFiles Manager at
  • Whilst we use our best efforts to provide accurate information in this newsletter, MegaPesca is not responsible for the results of any inaccuracies or omissions which may be found to exist in the information provided, or any loss of profits or other consequential damages that may result from actions or omissions based on the information supplied. Readers are advised that only the European Union legislation published in the paper editions of the Official Journal of the European Communities is deemed authentic.
  • To Contact MegaPesca:
    Tel: +351 262 990372, Fax: +351 262 990496
    Rua Gago Coutinho 11, Valado de Santa Quitéria, Alfeizerão 2460-207 PORTUGAL