1. The Commission published the 2019 Annual Economic Report on the performance of the EU fishing fleets in 2017. The EU fleet registered a net profit of EUR 1.30 billion, only slightly lower than the record EUR 1.34 billion in 2016. The strong financial performance was the result of higher average fish prices, continued low fuel prices, and the improved status of some important stocks. The Commission expects the trend to continue into 2018 and 2019. The EU fleet's gross value added (i.e. the contribution of the fishing sector to the economy through wages and gross profit) amounted to EUR 4.5 billion. European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella stated that: "this report on Europe's fishing fleet shows that good results come with good practices".
2. The EU has authorised the signature of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Gambia, which was agreed between the parties in October 2019. The six-year Protocol and the Agreement will apply from the date of signature. Fishing opportunities for twenty eight tuna seine vessels are allocated to Spain and France, as well as ten pole and line opportunities. Spain and Greece also receive opportunities for deep water demersal fishing, up to a maximum of 3 vessels fishing at any one time outside the 12-mile zone, and a total of 750 tonnes of target species. The EU will provide a financial contribution of EUR 550,000 per year which includes an annual amount for access to the fisheries resources in the Gambian fishing zone of EUR 275,000 (equivalent to a reference tonnage, for highly migratory species, of 3,300 tonnes per year), and a specific annual amount for the support of the implementation of the Gambia's sectoral fisheries policy of EUR 275,000 per year.
3. The Parties to the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) held their sixth meeting in Mauritius from 1-5 July. Progress was made towards strengthening the regulatory framework with inter alia the adoption of measure for the management of orange roughy, alfonsino and toothfish, new High Seas Boarding and Inspection Procedures, and prohibition of direct shark fishing and mitigation measures for seabirds. SIOFA has nine Contracting Parties: Australia, the Cook Islands, the European Union, France on behalf of its Indian Ocean Territories, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mauritius, the Seychelles and Thailand.
4. The Commission published an updated list of designated ports in EU Member States where landings and transhipment operations of fishery products are allowed, and port services are accessible for third country fishing vessels.
5. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2019, containing articles on European eel (Denmark, Portugal), Northern pike (Estonia, the Netherlands, Sweden) and Fresh saithe in France and Ireland.
6. During August 2019 there were 3 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 8 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 29 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 5 consignments of tuna from Vietnam, 2 consignments of frozen octopus from Morocco, 2 consignments of swordfish from Spain, and 2 consignments of pollock from the USA.
7. DG SANTÉ reported on an audit of the Portuguese sanitary controls in relation to tuna and tuna products. The mission, conducted in October 2018, found that there were two designated Competent Authorities responsible for the official controls of fishery products, which generally delivered control in compliance with EU requirements. However, several shortcomings were identified, including ineffective follow up of deficiencies identified during inspections and lack of adherence to the established frequency of controls. It was also noted that in the Azores one freezer vessel was approved without it having a HACCP plan. One operator was also allowed to apply methods and equipment to freeze tuna onshore in brine which does not comply with the EU rules. There was also no testing for inorganic tin in canned fishery products. The Competent Authorities, the Directorate General for Food and Veterinary (DGAV) within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development and the Economic and Food Safety Authority (ASAE), within the Ministry for Economy were required to submit a plan of corrective actions to the Commission.
8. DG SANTÉ has reported on a follow up to a 2017 mission which audited the Seychelles' sanitary controls in relation to tuna and tuna products. The mission, conducted in November 2018, found that of the 11 recommendations in the agreed action plan, 7 were found to have been addressed satisfactorily, 3 were in progress (updating of regulations was delayed due to drafting issues), and one was outstanding. The issue of the dual use brine freezing tanks had been resolved to the satisfaction of DG SANTÉ by seeking guarantees from operators and sealing relevant valves to prevent dual usage. The outstanding issue concerned the validation of HACCP plans for a Seychelles tuna vessel with a mixed brine/dry freezing process. The Competent Authority, the Seychelles Bureau of Standards is continuing to work to address the remaining issues.
9. The Commission and Member States held an exchange of views on the review of Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/6 imposing special conditions governing the import of feed and food originating in or consigned from Japan following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station. The Committee decided to maintain the criteria applied for alleviation of control measures, in terms of numbers of compliant samples required before the import prohibition will be lifted from specific product groups or prefectures.
10. The Commission informed the Member States that it has consulted with stakeholder on a draft Commission Regulation which aims to amend Regulation (EC) 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in traditionally smoked meat and meat products and traditionally smoked fish and fishery products. The draft regulation will be submitted for consideration at the next meeting.
11. The Commission informed the Member States that Slovenia has notified several new zones in relation to freedom from VHS/IHN, and has modified its surveillance system accordingly, including possible new compartments. Notifications were also received from Italy in relation to freedom from VHS/IHN in several compartments, and Norway has withdrawn two declarations of disease-free zones (not specified).
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