1. The PECH Committee of the European Parliament published a study on "EU fisheries policy - latest developments and future challenges" prepared by consultants. The study examines the latest developments of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in the fields of fisheries management, Common Market Organisation (CMO) and its external dimension. Through the medium of ten case studies it discusses the potential challenges that the EU fisheries policy will face in the near future. It notes the limited success of the landing obligation in reducing discards, ongoing challenges of achieving the MSY management targets in multi-species fisheries, the potential for new monitoring technologies, and the historical failure of management in the Mediterranean Sea. Importantly, it also recognises that the EU's Relative Stability quota allocation keys do not adapt to changes in fish distributions, especially those driven by climate change, leading to conflicts and suboptimal exploitation of resources. It therefore recommends that there is a compelling need to define new and better ways to share fishing opportunities.
2. The United Nations Intergovernmental Conference on management of marine resources and biodiversity in the areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) was reported to be making good progress. Under discussion are international rules for marine protected areas as well as for assessing the environmental impact of activities carried out in the high seas. The conference is on target for a final agreement being ready for ratification by 2020. The European Commission announced that it will organise a workshop on strategic environmental assessments in Brussels during January 2020. Some EU Member States are also planning to organize workshops in support of the negotiations.
3. The EU has amended some of the 2019 fishing opportunities for EU vessels as set out in the TACs and quota regulation. The decision affects quotas for anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), the special condition for cod (Gadus morhua) from the North Sea to the Eastern Channel and horse mackerel (Trachurus spp.), catches of Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) during experimental fishing on shrimp, amongst several other measures.
4. The EU and Mauritania agreed to extend, for one more year, the current protocol to the sustainable fisheries partnership agreement which was due to expire in November 2019. Under the protocol the EU fleet can fish in Mauritanian waters for shrimp, demersal fish, tuna and small pelagic fish, up to a total of 287,050 tonnes a year. In addition to the fees paid by the European fleet, the EU pays a subsidy of €61,625,000 per year, comprising €57,500,000 for the access to waters and €4,125,000 for supporting local fishing communities in Mauritania and improving fisheries governance. The two parties also agreed on an exceptional derogation to the EU's IUU regulation, to tackle potential border blockages during the export to the EU of fresh fish caught in Mauritanian waters.
5. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) arranged for twenty fisheries inspectors from The Gambia to receive training in control techniques to fight and deter Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU). The training included a practical exercise in the fishing port of Banjul, allowing fisheries inspectors apply new methods of fisheries control and to become familiar with EFCA's e-learning platform. The theoretical and practical training was organised through the PESCAO programme, financed and implemented since 2018 by the European Union.
6. The EU Council set out the positions to be adopted by the European Commission in negotiations regarding measures to be adopted by the Western Central Atlantic Fishery Commission (WECAFC) and the Central and Eastern Atlantic Fishery Commission (CECAF), FAO constituted bodies responsible for scientific advice regarding living marine resources in the relevant areas of the Atlantic Ocean (other than those addressed by other bodies). The principles to be followed, include those embodied by the common fisheries policy (CFP), notably the application of the precautionary approach the adoption of maximum sustainable yield targets, and promotion of the best practices of regional fisheries management organisations (RFMOs).
7. The EU and China held their first Blue Partnership Forum for the Oceans, attended by more than 150 European and Chinese stakeholders, at which the European Commission and Chinese authorities set out their agenda for collaboration on improving international ocean governance. Stakeholders agreed that more direct investments should go into sustainable oceans sectors and ecosystem restoration. EU and China agreed to work on implementation of the Port State Measures Agreement, enhancing RFMO performance, strengthening the fight against IUU fishing and strengthening fisheries data transparency. China announced that in 2020, it will host the Blue Partnership Forum as well as three high level dialogues on oceans and fisheries, including IUU, on Law of the Sea and on the Arctic.
8. The European Commission released a staff working document on progress made in implementing the EU's Common Information Sharing Environment (CISE) for improved coordination and interoperability between maritime authorities and across borders on issues such as maritime security, transport, environmental protection, fisheries control, border control, general law enforcement, customs and defence. The Commission announced that support for CISE will be enhanced under the next EMFF.
9. The EU funded MOSAiC project (Multidisciplinary drifting Observatory for the Study of Arctic Climate) launched its expedition on the Polarstern icebreaker, which will undertake a year-round expedition to study climate change in the Arctic. The onboard scientists will conduct pioneering research on the marine ecosystems of the central Arctic Ocean and will specifically determine whether fish stocks might exist in this area that could be harvested on a sustainable basis.
10. During September 2019 there were 52 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 7 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 3 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 40 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of mussels from the Netherlands, 3 consignments of swordfish and 4 consignments of tuna from Spain, 3 consignments of Tuna from Vietnam, 2 consignments of Halibut from Canada and 4 consignments of mackerel from France.
11. DG SANTÉ reported on a mission to Colombia in April 2019, to follow up on an audit (in 2016) of the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products derived from tuna species intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that whilst the overall situation had improved, the implementation of sanitary controls remained incomplete. Colombian freezer vessels landing tuna in Ecuador were not always inspected with sufficient frequency. The Colombian fleet of EU approved tuna freezer vessels was permitted to continue using dual-purpose holds (using the same tanks for storing fuel and fish). Waste from fish held in such tanks and used for fishmeal processing was not separated, and fish oils and meals exported to the EU for animal consumption may therefore have been contaminated with fuel. There was no requirement that imported tunas for subsequent processing and export to the EU had been produced in accordance with the EU requirements. As a result of the audit, the Competent Authority, the Instituto Nacional de Vigilancia de Medicamentos y Alimentos, was again required to submit further guarantees that it would address the non-compliances identified. In particular, the CA confirmed that it would require total separation of the brine circuits from tanks used for fuel.
12. DG SANTÉ has reported on a mission to Ecuador in March 2019, to follow up on an audit (in 2016) of the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products derived from tuna species intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that whilst the overall situation had improved, with upgrading of the legislation, two of the recommendations had not been addressed. In particular the hazards associated "dual use" of fish holds as fuel tanks was not resolved, or even mentioned in the HACCP systems of the vessels, which along with gaps in the checks on origin of tuna risked that fuel contaminated tuna was being exported to the EU. Furthermore, waste from fish held in such tanks and used for fishmeal processing was not separated and fish oils and meals exported to the EU for animal consumption may therefore have been contaminated with fuel. Fish was also held in a non-EU listed cold store, at temperatures higher than set out in EU legislation, frozen fish was transported without refrigeration and a loining plant was receiving supplies from vessels and landing sites not subject to inspection by the Competent Authority. As a result of the audit, the Competent Authority, the Subsecretaría de Calidad e Inocuidad, was again required to submit further guarantees that it would address the non-compliances. The CA confirmed that it would require total separation of the brine circuits from tanks used for fuel and address other deficiencies identified.
13. DG SANTÉ has also reported on a mission to Belarus in May 2019, to audit the control systems in place governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union and follow up from a previous audit in 2011. The mission found that there were notable differences in the standards for histamine, PAH, heavy metals, microbiological criteria and required storage temperatures. The requirement for lists of approved establishments was not set out in national legislation. There were no provisions requiring veterinary inspectors signing health certificates to receive training in the EU requirements for which they were signing attestations. A fishery export establishment was approved with known non-compliances, and there were no controls on eligibility of imported raw materials for EU supply. The CAs overlooked shortcomings in relation to the HACCP-based procedures in a shrimp peeling establishment. Use of additives was not adequately controlled and mis-labelled. Delays in the follow up of rapid alerts were found to compromise the subsequent investigation and effectiveness of the official controls. The mission concluded that gaps in the control framework and its implementation in practice impact on the capability to ensure that EU approved establishments meet the EU requirements. The three Belarus Competent Authorities, the Department of Veterinary and Food Supervision, the State Sanitary Epidemiological Inspectorate and the State Committee of Standardisation, were required to submit a plan of corrective actions subsequently accepted by the Commission.
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