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March 2019

Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU to subsidise fishers in case of cessation of activities due to no deal Brexit
2. EU provides for EU-UK reciprocal fisheries access and swaps in case of no-deal Brexit
3. EU agrees to UK accession to the NEAFC Convention in case of no deal Brexit
4. Commission advises all businesses prepare for no-deal Brexit scenario
5. EU ratifies High Seas Arctic Ocean Fisheries Agreement
6. EU Fisheries Ministers argue over subsidies for small-scale fisheries
7. EU Parliament approves new EMFF and the new "Technical Measures" Regulation.
8. Commission amends adjustments to 2019 quotas due to overfishing
9. EU issues regulation for multiannual management plans for 36 stocks in Western waters
10. EU Council approves Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Côte d'Ivoire
11. EU Council ratifies Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Morocco
12. EU amends European Fisheries Control Agency mandate and powers
13. DG MARE and JRC publish papers on economics of EU fleet and fish processing
14. EUMOFA publishes a study on price structure of Norway Lobster
15. Commission promotes EMFF with news about the RealFishEcho project
16. EUMOFA publishes its latest monthly market highlights
17. EUMOFA publishes fish species profiles
18. Commission publishes programme for Lisbon European Maritime Day
19. The European Marine Observation and Data Network invites comments on progress
20. Commission publishes progress report on International Ocean Governance
21. DG MARE launches tender for creation of European Ocean Alliance or 'EU4Oceans'
22. Parliament and Commission host Brussels conference on EU ocean policy and governance
23. High-level EU Arctic Forum in October to be held in Sweden

Fish hygiene

24. Rapid alerts were notified for 33 consignments of fishery products
25. Commission to ask EFSA to update risk assessment on dioxins and DL-PCBs
26. EU's Food Fraud Network discuss Vietnamese shrimp and Spanish tuna scandals
27. Commission proposes big reduction of MLs for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in animal feeds
28. EU Guidance to be amended for Listeria shelf-life studies
29. New maximum levels planned by Commission for fluorine in calcareous marine algae.

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The EU adopted a regulation amending the rules regarding the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, to permit public support for the temporary cessation of fishing activities, as a result of Brexit, by fishermen and operators that have significant dependence on access to United Kingdom waters, in case the UK does not grant access to those waters. The support is limited to a maximum of 9 months cessation of fishing. The Regulation shall not apply if the Withdrawal Agreement is concluded with the United Kingdom (which provides for continued access in the transition period).

2. The EU adopted a Regulation creating the framework for post-Brexit reciprocal access arrangements between the EU and UK (for fishing authorisations) to allow EU vessels to fish own quota in the UK zone and vice versa, and avoid the risk of not having the possibility to utilise fully the fishing opportunities established for 2019. The measure also maintains for 2019 the agreed quota allocations and shares for the Member States and the United Kingdom. A mechanism for quota swaps is also established. The regulation shall not apply if a Withdrawal Agreement is concluded with the United Kingdom (which provides transitional measures for mutual access).

3. The EU Council has adopted a decision to agree to the application by the UK for accession to the NEAFC Convention after it leaves the European Union and in case that there is no withdrawal agreement. This will provide for the UK to maintain access to North Atlantic stocks such as herring and mackerel, in international waters, and to be subject to the NEAFC management measures. Current treaty provisions will continue to apply for a transition period if the UK leaves the EU with a Withdrawal Agreement.

4. The Commission has published a press release on the publication of measures (including fisheries) in the event that the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal on 12 April. The Commission urges all EU businesses to continue informing themselves about the consequences of a possible "no-deal" scenario and to complete their no-deal preparedness. The Commission states that although such a scenario is not desirable, the EU is prepared for it.

5. The Council of the EU has ratified the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean following the conclusions of negotiations. It applies to the high seas portion of the central Arctic Ocean and aims to prevent unregulated fishing through the application of precautionary conservation and management measures as part of a long-term strategy to safeguard healthy marine ecosystems and to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of fish stocks. The parties agree to only authorize their vessels to conduct commercial fishing in the stated zone subject to conservation and management measures for the sustainable management of fish stocks adopted by one or more regional or sub-regional fisheries management organizations or interim conservation and management measures that may be established by the Parties. Decisions on questions of procedure shall be taken by a majority of the Parties.

6. Ministers from EU Member States held an Agriculture and Fisheries Council Meeting on 18 March. Several Member states emphasised the importance and precariousness of small-scale fisheries in the context of the Commission's proposal for a new, post-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and are seeking specific measures. However, some Member States considered that the EMFF should not be used to support any activities which undermine the objective of sustainable fishing, even if they are of socio-economic importance.

7. The European Parliament Committee on Fisheries held an extraordinary meeting on 7 March 2019 and the voted on the adoption of a key legislative file for the shaping of the new EMFF programme, with over 1,000 amendments. Subsequently, having concluded the difficult trilogue negotiations lasting for more than a year with the Commission and the Council, the Committee also provisionally approved the new "Technical Measures" Regulation.

8. The Commission has published amended adjustments to the Member State quotas for 2019, to account for overfishing during 2018 and previous years. Amongst several transgressors, Spain has exceeded the 2017 quota for yellowfin tuna in the IOTC area of competence by 2,465 tonnes, and UK exceeded its quotas for mackerel by 2,172 tonnes. These amounts will be deducted from current or future quotas.

9. The EU published a regulation setting out the parameters for the multiannual management plans for the management of 36 stocks of fish in Western waters. The regulation requires that the plan sets the target fishing mortality in line with the ranges of FMSY and requires the definition of conservation reference points to safeguard the full reproductive capacity of the stocks.

10. The EU Council approved the protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Côte d'Ivoire, which has been provisionally applied since it was signed on 1 August 2018. The Decision also nominates the Commission as the authority to approve amendments to the Protocol proposed by the Joint Committee.

11. The European Council has also ratified the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco, as well as a new Protocol. The Agreement permits EU fleets to continue the fishing activities in the waters adjacent to the territory of Western Sahara, and the provides for that territory to benefit from the sectoral support provided under the Agreement, in compliance with Union and international law. The new agreement, Protocol, and the Exchange of Letters accompanying the Fisheries Agreement that form an integral part of the Fisheries Agreement, were initialled on 24 July 2018. Although it has signed the Agreement, the Council's position is that there is nothing in the terms of the Fisheries Agreement or of the Implementation Protocol which implies that the EU recognises the Kingdom of Morocco's sovereignty or sovereign rights over Western Sahara and the adjacent waters. The EU Council also adopted a regulation setting out the allocation of the fishing opportunities under the EU Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement. It sets out the dimensions of the opportunities in Moroccan waters for EU vessels engaging in small-scale fishing, demersal fishing, tuna fishing, and industrial fishing for pelagic species.

12. The EU adopted a Regulation amending and consolidating the 2005 regulation establishing the European Fisheries Control Agency. The regulation updates the powers and constitution of the Agency to provide for inclusion of land based controls in joint deployment plans, procurement of the necessary equipment to carry out joint deployment plans and to cooperate in the implementation of the EU Integrated Maritime Policy, to assist the Union and the Member States in their relations with third countries or regional fisheries organisations, and certain procedural streamlining.

13. The Economic Analysis, Markets and Impact Assessment Unit of DG MARE and experts of the Water and Marine Resources Unit at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) have published a Maritime Economic Paper on the EU fishing fleet. The paper provides insights additional to findings of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) 2018 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet. It includes insight on recent trends in economic performance of the EU fleet and the potential drivers behind them, with supplementary analyses broken down by country, main fishing region and type of fishing activity (fleet segments). DG MARE also published a Maritime Economic Paper on the EU processing sector based on the findings of the Economic report of the EU fish processing sector 2017. It includes insight on recent trends in economic performance of the EU processing sector and the potential drivers behind them, with supplementary analyses broken down by country, and type of processing activity.

14. EUMOFA has published a study on price structure of Norway Lobster in Denmark, France and Ireland. The main finding is that world production for Norway lobster reached 59.033 tonnes in 2017, 96% from the EU. The UK accounted for more than half of EU production and the main markets are the UK, Italy, France, Spain, Ireland, Sweden and Denmark.

15. The Commission published its "EMFF story of the month" describing the RealFishEcho project in the Netherlands, financed with nearly €600,000 from the EMFF, which is seeking to identify fish species with echo sounder data. Using broadband echo sounder data, fishermen can identify specific species which allows them to only bring aboard the fish they are targeting - mainly herring, mackerel, and horse mackerel and avoid unwanted catches thus making their fishing practices more sustainable.

16. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 02/2019, containing articles on Common shrimp (Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands) and edible crab (Denmark, France, the UK) and Consumption of fresh haddock in Ireland and Sweden, as well as an update on EU consumer habits regarding fishery and aquaculture products.

17. EUMOFA has also published profiles on the most important species for the EU market providing data on each stage of the supply chain, commercial designations, species description and other qualitative information are reported, along with updated data on production (fishery and aquaculture), trade and consumption.

18. The Commission has published the full provisional programme for European Maritime Day (Lisbon, 16-17 May). The programme will include a high-level plenary session, eight breakout sessions organised by the European Commission focusing on several strategic initiatives to support Blue Economy, and 28 thematic workshops designed and organised by maritime stakeholders. The Agenda is available at:

19. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet) is inviting comments on its work so far, as part of a mid-term evaluation to assess its contribution to the EU's integrated maritime policy. EMODnet was set up following the Green Paper "Marine Knowledge 2020" as a flagship project to prepare a seamless multi-resolution digital seabed map of European waters by 2020 and to ensure effective coordination of research in observing the seas and oceans, including work by hydrographic organisations, geological surveys, scientists and environmental agencies and to improved availability of data, usage conditions and interoperability. EMODnet is now operational and beneficiaries are invited to comment on the work so far at:

20. The Commission published a report on 15 March 2019 outlining the progress made since the adoption of a Joint Communication on International Ocean Governance two years ago. The report highlights that EUR 590 million have so far been committed under EU development policy to promote better ocean governance with non-EU countries. Also 14 countries have successfully reformed their control and management systems to fight illegal (IUU) fishing in their territory, and the EU has played a major role in achieving an international consensus on the protection of the high seas in the Arctic The report points out that 50 actions for proposed safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans in Europe and around the world are successfully being implemented. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella added: "the challenges that the oceans face are as big as the oceans themselves - climate change, pollution, biodiversity loss, overfishing. We need to continue our work."

21. The European Commission DG MARE launched a tender for a service contract to create the European Ocean Alliance or 'EU4Oceans'. EU4Oceans aims to become the platform for all European groups and organisations active in ocean preservation and ocean literacy. The main objectives of the platform will be to: Share good practices and develop joint ocean literacy initiatives; Create awareness with and encourage activism of European citizens; Help citizens, businesses and decision-makers to become advocates for our oceans; Encourage children, students and young people to take an active role in the ocean preservation through different activities at local, regional, national or international level; Promote digital services and innovative communication tools to disseminate ocean-related information to citizens and stakeholders. More information is available at:

22. MEP Gesine Meissner and European Commissioner Karmenu Vella hosted a high-level conference at the European Parliament on the EU's ocean policy, held in Brussels. At the conference the European Commission announced that it has just published its progress report Improving International Ocean Governance.

23. The European Commission, the European External Action Service, and the Government of Sweden announced that they will jointly organize a high-level EU Arctic Forum on 3-4 October 2019 in Umeå, Sweden. The Forum will bring together key Arctic players and stakeholders to assess recent developments in the region and to discuss the new challenges ahead. It will include several keynote addresses and two high-level panel sessions. Foreign ministers from EU member states as well as the Arctic Council are expected to participate.

Fish hygiene

24. During March 2019 there were 33 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 6 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 25 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for crustacean and gastropod products. These included 3 consignments of mussels and 2 consignments of swordfish from Spain and 4 consignments of monkfish from France.

25. The European Commission announced that it will request EFSA to prepare an updated risk-benefit assessment of fish consumption that takes into account updated exposure of EU consumers to polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/furans PCDD/Fs (dioxins) and dioxin like DL-PCBs. It is expected that the new assessment will lead to the development of new advice for consumers on fish consumption (and put it in a wider context). However, the EU has also formally requested the WHO to undertake a review of the WHO2005-Toxic Equivalency Factors for these substances. WHO has indicated that this review could be completed by early 2020, and the Commission has indicated that it delay the finalisation of the risk benefit until the new TEF values are published.

26. The European Commission hosted the November 2018 meeting of the EU's Food Fraud Network including the European Commission, Joint Research Council, OLAF (the EU's Anti-fraud Office) and EUROPOL. The meeting was presented with updates on major food frauds in the EU in 2018, including two concerning fishery products. The first concerned the identification of intentional misuse of antibiotics (nitrofurans) by a number of Vietnamese shrimp producers, identified through the official controls at EU borders and on the market, and disseminated by the EU's RASFF system. The issue led to a number of export establishments having their authorisations withdrawn by the Vietnamese Competent Authority. The second concerned the illegal treatment and use of brine frozen tuna intended for canning for supply to the fresh tuna market, covered in the previous edition of The Fish Inspector. The case, codenamed Operation Tarantello, concluded with a total of 79 arrests by the Spanish authorities in October and November 2018, coordinated by EUROPOL, and with prosecutions underway. At the meeting it was also noted that the Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection and Certification Systems (CCFICS) is working on a new definition of food fraud. The Joint Research Council EC Knowledge Centre for Food Fraud and Quality also held a Technical workshop on food Fraud in December 2018. The next meeting of the Food Fraud network will be held in April/May 2019

27. The European Commission and Member States discussed the available occurrence data on dioxins and PCBs in feed in the EFSA database, which indicate that there is scope for a very significant reduction of the current maximum levels for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in animal feeds. However, it is important that with the lowering of the maximum levels the impact on the analysis is carefully considered. The EURL for halogenated persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in feed and food has been requested to analyse the consequences of the achievability of lower levels with the currently used screening and confirmatory methods of analysis and possible consequences for analytical performance criteria. A comprehensive report has been prepared by the EU Reference Laboratory for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs. The EURL has been requested to follow this up within the network of EU National Reference Laboratories (NRLs). The expectation is that maximum levels will be reduced providing that analytical capacity is available to test for compliance at the new limits.

28. The European Commission and Member States discussed amendments to the EU Listeria monocytogenes guidance document. The EU Reference Laboratory for Listeria monocytogenes (EURL Lm) presented a draft amendment to its Technical Guidance Document for conducting shelf-life studies on Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat foods. The changes concern the storage temperature of the test units at retail level to conduct challenge tests. The draft amendment was endorsed by all Member States present.

29. The Commission and the Member States agreed to amend the maximum levels fluorine in calcareous marine algae.

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