1. The European Commission has published a statement in the form of questions and answers regarding the current state of play regarding readiness of the fishery sector for the UK exit from the EU. The information indicates that EU control regulations will no longer apply to the United Kingdom and that UK authorities will not be allowed to carry out inspections in Union waters. It confirms that the fishing opportunities regulation 2019 will no longer applies to the United Kingdom and that UK will have to define the fishing opportunities for UK vessels in domestic legislation. Union vessels will not be authorised under EU law to fish in UK waters after the withdrawal date, and any access arrangements will be at the discretion of the UK Government, and only with express permission of the EU Member State concerned. It will be up to the UK to decide whether to retain 2019 quotas, but EU 27 vessels will remain bound by the TACs and quota regulation. In order to address the potential economic cost of a temporary disruption to access to UK waters for affected fishery operators, the EU has provided the possibility to use the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to compensation its fishers for temporary cessation of fishing activities. Access to UK ports for EU vessels will be covered by EU rules. UK vessels may continue to land in EU ports, subject to compliance with the rules applicable to third-country vessels, notably on designated ports and prior notice. The EU has indicated that it is ready to provide continued access to its waters until 31 December 2019, if the United Kingdom will provide access to its waters for the EU vessels and respects the terms of the fishing opportunities regulation 2019. On withdrawal, the UK control and enforcement authorities will not have access to Union fishing vessel monitoring system (VMS) data and logbook data from FLUX. There will be no mechanism in place for any further quota swap arrangements between EU27 and UK operators. As of the withdrawal date, the EU's WTO Tariff Schedule will apply to fishery products imported from the UK.
2. The Commission announced emergency measures to save the eastern Baltic cod stock from impending collapse. Emergency measures will ban, with immediate effect, commercial fishing for cod in most of the Baltic Sea (with an exemption for some coastal fisheries) until 31 December 2019. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), has advised that stock suffers from an unsustainably low biomass due to a combination of declining recruitment, environmental factors and changes in the ecosystem leading to a high natural mortality and an excessive fishing mortality given the status of the stock. More than 7,000 fishing vessels from all eight EU Member States catch eastern Baltic cod, with 182 vessels from Lithuania and Poland depending on this stock for more than 50% of their catches. Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: "The impact of this cod stock collapsing would be catastrophic for the livelihoods of many fishermen and coastal communities all around the Baltic Sea."
3. Following the adoption of new swordfish conservation measures at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas ('ICCAT'), the European Union has a adopted a new regulation to introduce a establishing a multiannual recovery plan for Mediterranean swordfish for the period 2017-2031. The measures include adoption of a minimum conservation reference size, bycatch limits, derogations on the landing obligation to permit the required discarding of non-lawfully caught fish, application of measures to recreational fishing. The regulation delegates implementing powers to the Commission in respect of deadlines for reporting information, time periods for closures, minimum conservation reference size, tolerance levels for incidental catches and by-catches, technical characteristics of fishing gear, and controls on quota uptake.
4. The European Commission has adjusted the 2019 fish quota allocations to Spain, in response a request from Spain to reduce the previously applied deduction of 5,544 tonnes due to overfishing in previous years. The justification for the request was to minimise the impact on small scale fisheries.
5. Following an audit by the Commission of the Irish fisheries control system in 2018, DG MARE has formally requested Ireland to evaluate its capacity to enforce the rules of the common fisheries policy (CFP). Areas with severe and significant weaknesses included the weighing of catches of small pelagic species, under-reporting of catches of these species, inadequate and ineffective sanctioning system for offences committed by operators and the lack of control and enforcement of bluefin tuna catches by recreational vessels. The Irish Authorities are required to report their findings to the Commission within three months, along with proposals for corrective actions.
6. The European Commission published a study on the declared versus actual engine power of fishing vessels in 15 Member States. Power is one of the measures used to control fishing effort and to determine the fleet size of European fishing fleets, in order to ensure sustainable management of marine resources. For effective management of fishing effort, registered power values must be reliable. The study found that most Member States do not have an effective verification system, or have no verification system at all, and relay solely on declarations. The measured engine power exceeded the certified engine power during 51% of the verifications, and for an additional 16% of the inspected vessels there are secondary indications of non-compliance with engine power restrictions. The report recommends improvements in certification and verification systems, sealing of certain engine settings and deploying continuous power measurement.
7. The Commission carried out an evaluation of the implementation of the Entry/Exit scheme which aims to balance the capacity of any vessel entering the fishery with the prior withdrawal of a vessel or vessels with the equivalent capacity, thus ensuring that fishing is environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. The evaluation found that scheme is fit for purpose as an instrument to prevent fishing capacity from increasing and is relevant to the needs, even though fishing capacity remains too high in 190 out of the 255 segments assessed. However, the national implementation rules are undermined since Member State authorities in general do not generate reliable engine power figures for registration and certification purposes.
8. The Commission has announced a public consultation on the interpretation and control of state aids in the fishery and aquaculture sector, covering the de minimis regulation, block exemptions and the current Guidelines for the examination of State aid to the fishery and aquaculture sector. Interested parties can submit their comments online at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2019-2932425/public-consultation_en The deadline is 20 September 2019.
9. On 19 July 2019 the EU and Senegal signed a new implementing protocol to the existing sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The protocol provides for a maximum of 28 EU tuna seiners, 10 pole-and-liners, 5 long liners and 2 trawlers to fish tuna-like species, shark and hake in the waters of Senegal for a five-year period. In exchange for the fishing rights, the EU will pay Senegal a yearly financial contribution of EUR1.7 million, EUR900,000 of which is earmarked to promote the sustainable management of fisheries in Senegal, in particular through measures that reinforce control and surveillance capacities and the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. In addition to these amounts, EU ship owners will contribute with approximately €1.35 million per year in return for fishing licences.
10. The Official Journal published an information notice on the entry into force of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol between the EU and Morocco, following final ratification by both parties on 18 July 2019. The parties also held their first Joint Commission meeting on July 18 in Rabat, at which they clarified the detailed practical and technical conditions governing the fishing activities of European vessels in Moroccan waters as part of the implementation of the Protocol. In addition, the parties endorsed the methods for the assessment and distribution of the financial compensation under the Protocol and the implementation of the sectoral support.
11. The EU has revised the list of designated ports in EU Member States at which third country vessels are permitted to land fish.
12. EUMOFA has published a market study on fresh mussels in the EU. Globally, production of mussels exceeded 2 million tonnes for the first time in 2016. 94% of the total is supplied by aquaculture and the EU, with 522.000 tonnes, is the second largest producer after China. The top-3 markets of Spain, France and Italy represent 75% of total EU consumption. Italy was the lowest priced market, with the average price paid to the farmer of 0.70 EUR/kg, and a retail price, (VAT excluded) of 2.17 EUR/kg),
13. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2019, containing articles on Atlantic salmon and sea trout, Fresh octopus in Italy and Portugal and a case study on the market use of marine invasive species in the EU.
14. The EU and Canada concluded an Ocean Partnership Agreement which contains commitments to combatting the negative effects of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries, marine pollution and climate change. The agreement covers cooperation on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in the high seas, the fight against marine pollution, the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change as relevant to the oceans, the prevention of unregulated commercial fishing in the central Arctic, the promotion of safe and decent living and working conditions at sea and the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "I am delighted that, together, EU and Canada are leading the way to healthier oceans."
15. On September 20th, the European Commission will host its annual Brussels Seminar on Fisheries Science dedicated to exploring the research needs and priorities in the field of fisheries for the next decade. The event in will bring together representatives of scientists and researchers, NGOs, the fishing industry, representatives from the European Parliament, the Council and Member States, and from different Directorates General of the European Commission. The programme will include presentations on fisheries research projects and a panel discussion dedicated to exploring the prospects for fisheries, marine science and research. Panellists will identify priority areas for future research and debate how to ensure the findings are reflected in policy making.
16. The Commission announced the success of the 2019 European Maritime Day with 145 events organised in 21 different countries (15 EU and 6 non-EU), attracting 25.000 participants. The events took place from 1 April till 30 of June, and included beach-cleaning activities, guided tours of ports, workshops, conferences, seminars and exhibitions on maritime themes, eco-tours and walks in areas with significant maritime heritage (cultural, environmental), excursions by boat, visits to maritime museums or former ships, shipyards and port facilities etc.
17. During July 2019 there were 57 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 10 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 5 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 3 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 38 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and 1 rapid alert notification for gastropods products. These included 5 consignments of live venus clams from Italy, 2 consignments of live oysters and 2 consignments of live cockles and 2 consignments of chilled mackerel from France, 2 consignments of frozen shrimps from Morocco, consignments of from, 6 consignments of smoked fish from Ghana, 2 consignments of sprats in oil from Latvia, 2 consignments of chilled mackerel from Norway via Denmark and 2 consignments of thawed vacuum-packed swordfish from Spain.
18. The Commission's DG SANTÉ published a report of an audit mission to Malta in March 2019 to evaluate the national food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The audit found that official controls in primary production, were not carried out prior to 2018 and, for certain sectors, only commenced immediately before the audit, along with newly documented procedures (control checklists). The competent authority had no access to registration data on fishing vessels and cannot establish sanitary control over this sector. Oversight over aquaculture and landing sites is equally limited or non-existent. Several establishments were allowed to continue operations without valid approval or were granted approval despite obvious non-compliances. Required checks for histamine, parasites and organoleptic characteristics (freshness) were not carried out. Overall the Commission found that the controls implemented by the Maltese Competent Authorities (the Veterinary Regulation Directorate and the Environmental Health Directorate) were seriously deficient in a multitude of areas and, as such, do not allow for adequate and effective enforcement of the relevant EU requirements. It is notable that such extensive sanitary non-compliances (significantly worse than most third countries) have been detected in the EU Member State which has provided two out of the last three EU Fisheries Commissioners.
19. The Commission's DG SANTÉ has published a report of an audit mission to Italy in January 2019 to evaluate the national food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of tuna products in respect of food hygiene, additives and labelling. The audit found that there were shortcomings in the official controls, in particular with regard to histamine testing (own controls with less than nine sample), and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plan, which were not fully accurate and kept up-to-date. A cold store was also discovered to be operating at too high a temperature. The Central Competent Authority, the Directorate General for Food Hygiene, Food Safety and Nutrition of the Ministry of Health was required to submit a plan of corrective actions to the Commission.
20. The European Food Safety Authority has published a report on a baseline study of norovirus in oysters harvested in the EU. Over two years a total of 2,180 valid samples were taken from production areas and 2,129 samples from dispatch centres. The prevalence of infection at production areas was estimated to be 34.5% (CI: 30.1-39.1%), while for batches from dispatch centres it was 10.8% (CI: 8.2-14.4%). The analyses showed a strong seasonal effect, with higher contamination in the period November to April, as well as lower contamination for Class A areas than other classes. EFSA suggests that the current bacteriological microbiological criteria applicable to live bivalve molluscs might be complemented by a norovirus criterion, but EFSA also recognises the analytical challenges of detection at levels near the Limit of Quantification of existing methods.
21. Italian authorities reported the seizure of one tonne of mussels that lacked appropriate information to trace the origin of the product.
22. The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health considered the potential for reduction of the maximum levels of dioxins and PCBs based in foods on the occurrence data in the EFSA database. Member States and stakeholder organisations are invited to provide additional occurrence data on dioxins and PCBs in foods. The Committee also held an exchange of views on dioxins and PCBs in calcium salts of fatty acids from fish oil.
23. Norway declared an ISA-free compartment comprising "Hall 2" at the fish farm "31837 Sørfjorden Stamfiskanlegg". France declared compartment 'Pisciculture de Moulin de Soye" free from VHS and IHN.
24. The Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health approved Bactocell (Pediococcus acidilactici) as a feed additive for all fish and shrimps.
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