FishFilesLite Newsletter
October 2019

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Common Fisheries Policy

1. Commission issues IUU "yellow card" to Ecuador; risks trade sanctions
2. EU reduces Baltic fishing for herring and cod; Commission proposed compensation
3. Commission proposes fishing limits for Mediterranean and the Black Sea
4. Commission adjusts 2019 quotas to account for overfishing and under-utilisation
5. Commission proposes TACs for 72 stocks in the Atlantic and North Sea
6. NEAFC coastal states agree TACs for blue whiting and herring
7. ICES deliver a presentation to the European Parliament
8. Commission responds to 2017 report that fisheries controls not fit for purpose
9. Commission hosts workshop on proposed traceability provisions in fisheries controls
10. EU Fisheries Control Agency publishes 2020 workplan and budget
11. The EU and the Seychelles conclude new Fisheries Agreement and Protocol
12. NAFO re-opens Flemish Cap shrimp fishery and reduced TAC for cod and redfish
13. EUMOFA publishes articles on seabass and trout
14. EUMOFA launches new trade database on fisheries and aquaculture products
15. EU Commission and Germany host Marine Regions Forum
16. Euronews OCEAN reviews threats to the Arctic ecosystem
17. Commission and the Swedish Government host an EU Arctic Forum
18. EU launches blue economy Ocean Tracker at 2019 Our Ocean Conference in Oslo;
19. European Maritime Day to take place in Cork Ireland on 14/15 May 2020.
20. Ministerial Conference on Safe and Legal Fishing held in Torremolinos, Spain

Fish Hygiene

21. Rapid alerts were notified for 52 consignments of fishery products
22. Commission audits fish hygiene controls in Cyprus; numerous gaps identified
23. Commission audits tuna controls in France; some shortcomings identified
24. Commission re-audits Guinea; shortcomings to be addressed before ban can be lifted
25. Commission retains testing on fish and fishery product imports from Japan
26. EFSA launches call for H2020 proposals to develop a research & innovation platform
27. Changes in IHN zones; parasites detected in French oysters

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The European Commission issued a "yellow card", warning the Government of Ecuador that it risks being considered as a non-cooperating country with respect to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The decision accuses Ecuador of having an outdated legal framework which does not control vessels outside the EEZ; law enforcement is hampered by inefficient administrative procedures and a lenient approach towards infringements and sanctions, and there are serious deficiencies in terms of control, notably over the activity of the tuna fishing and processing industries, which undermine the legality of the catches upon which certification for export is based. Ecuador risks trade sanctions if it does not address these deficiencies.

2. The EU's Fisheries Ministers met in Luxembourg and agreed on a significant reduction of fishing opportunities for key stocks in the Baltic Sea. These will include: for western herring, a reduction of TAC of 65%; for eastern Baltic cod, all targeted fishing will be banned (with a limited quota for by-catches); a number of areas will also be subject to seasonal closures in order to protect the spawning of vulnerable stocks. Baltic Member States also promised to implement EU measures on pollution, eutrophication and habitat degradation resulting from industrial and agricultural activities. Ministers also exchanged views on the position to be taken by the EU at the annual consultations with Norway in the framework of their bilateral fisheries agreement, and at the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The Commission adopted a proposal offering financial subsidies from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to fishermen affected by the closure of the Eastern Baltic cod fishery, with a view to permanently decommissioning their fishing vessels. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said:" Both fish and fishermen in the Baltic Sea deserve a future."

3. For the first time, the Commission proposed limits on fishing opportunities for 2020 in both the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. The proposal will implement the multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the western Mediterranean, adopted in June this year, and aim to reduce fishing effort for red mullet, hake, deep-water rose shrimp, Norway lobster, blue and red shrimp and giant red shrimp. It will also close fisheries for eel for 3 months and introduce catch and fishing effort limits for small pelagic fish in the Adriatic and a fishing effort limit for demersal fish in the Adriatic. In the Black Sea, the Commission proposes the usual catch limits and quota for turbot (in line with GCFM measures) and sprat (11,475 tonnes)

4. The Commission adjusted certain Member States' quotas for 2019, to account for requests to withhold and carry forward unutilised quota in 2018. The Commission also adjusted certain Member States' quotas for 2019, to account for overfishing of allocated quotas in 2018.

5. The Commission proposed fishing opportunities for 72 stocks in the Atlantic and North Sea for 2020 to be discussed at the 16-17 December Council meeting on Fisheries. For 32 stocks the TAC is either increased or remains the same; and for 40 stocks the quota is reduced, in line with ICES advice. Karmenu Vella, Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, said: "With such sustained commitment, 2020 will be another year of progress for Europe's fisheries."

6. The NE Atlantic Fisheries Council coastal states, comprising the European Union, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Iceland, Greenland and the Russian Federation, reached an agreement on the management measures for blue whiting and Atlanto-Scandian herring for 2020, but reiterated strong concerns about the increase of unilateral quotas set particularly by Iceland, but also Greenland and the Russian Federation in 2019

7. Colm Lordan, Vice Chair of the ICES Advisory Committee gave a presentation on the work of ICES to the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament, describing ICES role in the provision of scientific advice on fish stocks.

8. The Commission has responded to the 2017 evaluation of the implementation of the Fisheries Control Regulation and its impacts on the CFP, which found that the EU's fisheries controls were not fit for purpose in that it did not deter non- compliance, there was inadequate provision for fisheries data, the legislative framework was too complex and ambiguous, the approach was not adapted to the reformed CFP and there was a lack of synergies with other policies. The Commission has therefore introduced proposed amendments to strengthen the mandate of the European Fisheries Control Agency, as well as to the measures contained in the EU's fisheries control regulation (EC) No 1224/2009 and the EU's IUU Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008. The amendments concern inspection and surveillance, sanctions, tracking systems, logbooks, landing declarations, recreational fisheries, traceability, fishing authorisations, landing obligation, digital data and data transmission.

9. On October 10th, in Brussels, the Commission hosted a workshop on traceability of fisheries and aquaculture products bringing together representatives of the European Commission, the Secretariat of the Council, the European Parliament, the EU Member States and representatives of the Regional Advisory Councils. The participants discussed different traceability solutions for fishery products, to support the development of new provisions on traceability within the EU control regulation, as described above.

10. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) published its annual workplan for 2020 which will address enhanced cooperation between EU Member States in Monitoring, Control and Surveillance measures, focusing on four strategic areas: operational coordination, risk assessment and data analysis, compliance with international provisions capacity building and support to Coast Guard functions. EFCA will receive EUR 17.6 million for 2020 for the implementation of its programme.

11. The EU and the Seychelles concluded negotiations for a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and a new protocol which will allow the EU fleet (40 tuna purse seiners and 8 long-liners) to continue fishing in Seychelles waters for a duration of 6 years while continuing to support the sustainable development of the fisheries sector in the Seychelles. Based on a reference tonnage of 50,000 tonnes, the EU will provide the Seychelles with an annual financial contribution of EUR5,300,000. A significant part of this contribution, EUR2,800,000 per year, is specifically earmarked to promote the sustainable management of fisheries in Seychelles, as well as to support the development of small-scale fisheries. The estimated value Seychelles, including the EU ship-owners contribution, will be equivalent to EUR9,700,000 per year.

12. The European Union participated in the 41st Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO), in Bordeaux, from 23 to 27 September 2019. The parties agreed to re-open the northern shrimp fishery on the Flemish Cap (after nine years of moratorium). Decreases in TACs for cod and redfish were also adopted. NAFO will establish a website for fisheries inspectors to facilitate the exchange of information for fisheries inspection and control between states.

13. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2016, containing articles on European seabass (France, Portugal, the UK) and John Dory (France, Italy, Portugal), prices of fresh trout in France, Poland and the UK and case studies on fisheries and aquaculture in Argentina and Aquaculture in the EU.

14. EUMOFA launched a publicly accessible trade database on fisheries and aquaculture products presenting data on the EU's bilateral trade with 68 non-EU countries. The data covers monthly imported and exported volumes and values for each species traded, by presentation and preservation state, and by partner country.

15. The European Commission and Germany hosted the first Marine Regions Forum aimed at introducing regional perspective into international ocean governance and fostering cross-border and interdisciplinary cooperation to achieve healthy, safe and productive seas.

16. The Euronews OCEAN online broadcast reviewed EU measures to address threats to the Arctic ecosystem, given that there is a risk of increased fishing due to longer seasons and in regions newly accessible due to climate change. OCEAN is a Euronews magazine in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE), and which publishes monthly 5-minute videos on subjects of interest.

17. The European Commission (DG MARE), with the EU's External Action Service (EEAS) and the Swedish Government organised an EU Arctic Forum to debate the strategic agenda facing the Arctic. On Day 1, the conference outlined the challenges facing the region, and the role of the EU and the private sector in achieving sustainable development and economic growth. Day 2 of the conference was dedicated to the Arctic Indigenous People's Dialogue. Statements were issued by the EU's High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini, Commissioner Karmenu Vella and the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, Ann Linde.

18. At the 2019 Our Ocean conference, in Oslo, Norway the European Union launched 'The Ocean Tracker', an interactive map to follow the over EUR 10 billion euros commitments made by governments, businesses and NGO to tackle key ocean challenges such as the impact of climate change, strengthen our knowledge base, drive innovation and to promote the development of the sustainable blue economy. The EU also announces 22 new commitments, for better governance of the oceans.

19. The Commission announced that European Maritime Day (EMD) will take place in Cork Ireland on 14/15 May 2020. Applications for organisation of EMD stakeholder workshops are invited, and open until 3 December 2019, on the themes of blue economy, sea basin cooperation, maritime spatial planning, ocean literacy, maritime skills and people, maritime security and surveillance, marine pollution, climate action and decarbonisation.

20. At the Ministerial Conference on Safe and Legal Fishing, hosted by Spain and the International Maritime Organization in Torremolinos, the EU encouraged parties to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement on safety of fishing vessels.

Fish Hygiene

21. During October 2019 there were 52 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 35 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and 1 rapid alert notifications for gastropods products. These included 2 consignments of live mussels from Italy,2 consignments of frozen pre-cooked mussels from Spain, 2 consignments of frozen shrimp from India, and 7 consignments of Pangasius originating from Vietnam.

22. In May 2019 the European Commission carried out an audit in Cyprus to assess the implementation of EU regulations concerning fish hygiene and safety. The mission found that the effectiveness of the Cypriot official control system is undermined by gaps in the approval procedures, weak of controls (associated with a lack of internal supervision), limited coordination between relevant services and lack of competent authority oversight over certain aspects of primary production. Most landing operations, small vessels and public health aspects of aquaculture farms were not monitored. Poor hygiene conditions were evident. There was a lack of official checks for histamine and additives as well as an inadequate verification of food business operators' Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plans (including important aspects such as product labelling and shelf life studies). The Competent Authorities, the Veterinary Services within the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment and the Public Health Service within the Department of Medical and Public Health Services, Ministry of Health were required to submit a plan of corrective actions.

23. In October 2018 the European Commission carried out an audit in France to assess the implementation of EU regulations concerning the hygiene, safety, additives and labelling of tuna and tuna products. The mission found that the two designated French competent authorities have in place an official control system supported by documented procedures covering the entire production chain of fishery products, which can generally be considered satisfactory. However, several shortcomings were identified. In some cases, different units owned by the same business operator were given the same unique approval number. Brine freezing processes in one vessel was not considered to be in line with EU requirements. A shore operator was also found to be freezing in a cold store. Official controls of tuna products for histamine were only applied at retail level, not at all stages of the production chain. There was no sampling or testing to verify the levels of inorganic tin. The two Competent Authorities, the Directorate-General for Food and Directorate-General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control were requested to submit a plan of corrective actions.

24. Imports of fishery products into the EU from Guinea were suspended in 2007 following a Commission audit which found serious shortcomings in the application of the relevant EU standards. In May 2019, at the request of the Competent Authority, the European Commission carried out a further audit to assess the implementation of EU regulations concerning fish hygiene and safety with regard to fishery products exported to the EU. The mission found that, in principle, the current organisation of the controls, the standards set and the procedures in place could provide an adequate system for official controls of fishery products. However, several shortcomings were identified in their implementation and enforcement. Guinean standards covering the fishery products proposed for export to the EU (round fish, fresh or frozen) were not in line with EU requirements. Several approved establishments were found to exhibit major deficiencies and only one could be considered as being compliant from a structural, maintenance and hygiene point of view. There was no list of vessels from the artisanal sector which are authorised to supply the EU exports, and no system of traceability to ensure product from non-authorised sources enters the EU. Gaps were identified in the knowledge of control staff (notably in the assessment of operators' HACCP systems). At the national laboratory, deficiencies were noted in particular in the handling of official samples intended to be sent to foreign laboratories. Overall, the audit concluded that the competent authority cannot yet guarantee that all fishery products would comply with EU requirements as set out in the EU export health certificate. The Competent Authority, the Office National de contrôle Sanitaire des Produits de la pêche et de l'Aquaculture (ONSPA) was invited to submit a plan of corrective with a view to authorising exports of only fishery products that have not undergone any preparation or processing operation other than heading, gutting and chilling and derived from the single establishment identified which could be considered as largely compliant with the EU requirements.

25. The Commission again amended the regulation imposing special conditions governing the import of feed and food from Japan following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station. Fish and fishery products caught or harvested in the coastal waters of the prefecture of Fukushima and imported into the EU will still need to be accompanied by a declaration and by an analytical report containing the results of sampling and analysis, irrespective of where such products are landed.

26. The European Food Safety Authority launched a call for proposals under the Horizon 2020 Programme to develop a research and innovation platform on food safety. The aim is to make it easier for national food safety authorities, EU agencies, policy-makers, the scientific community and civil society to coordinate research efforts in relation to food safety hazards. It is expected to lead to better trans-national research programmes, the alignment of national and EU research agendas, and the creation of a Food Safety Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA) to address consumers' expectations, emerging technologies and policy priorities. The deadline for applications is 22 January 2020.

27. Italy declared a zone free from VHS and IHN in an independent compartment comprising the fish farm "Impianto Ittico BorgotaroAlbareto". Germany withdrew the status of an IHN and VHS-free zone due to the detection of IHN. Ireland reported an outbreak of KHV (Koi herpes virus) which occurred in koi carp in an enclosed garden pond, from which there were no movements of live fish. France informed the Commission and Member States of a finding of Haplosporidium costale (a protozoan parasite) in Crassosttea gigas. A follow up programme of investigation will start in France in spring 2020.


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