1. The European Commission passed a decision notifying the Government of Ecuador of the possibility of being identified as a non-cooperating third country in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The Commission has identified at least 24 longliners greater than 23 meters length overall fishing for species covered by the IATTC Convention within the IATTC Convention Area and which were not on the IATTC Regional Vessel Register. It also identified two unregistered squid-jiggers engaged in fishing activities in the SPRFMO Convention area, which although known to the authorities were not sanctioned. Ecuadorean authorities were not able to identify whether Ecuadorian vessels fishing in waters under jurisdiction of third countries were doing so legally. At least one vessel with a problematic compliance history had been registered in Ecuador and in 2017 escaped to the control of the authorities. As a result, the EU accuses Ecuador of failing to uphold its responsibilities as a flag State to prevent its fleet from engaging in IUU activities in high seas or waters of third countries. Ecuador will have to address the issues identified if it is to avoid being identified by the Commission as a non-cooperating third country in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (a red card) which could result in trade and other fishery related sanctions under the EU's IUU Fishing Regulation 1005/2008.
2. The EU's Fisheries Ministers met in Brussels on 18th November. They adopted a decision on the signing and provisional application of the protocol to amend the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas to improve the effectiveness of conservation and management measures for Atlantic tunas. The Council also adopted a decision on the signing on behalf of the EU and provisional application of the protocol on the implementation of the agreement on a Sustainable Fisheries Partnership between the EU and Senegal.
3. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) met for its 26th Regular Meeting of the Commission, in Palma de Mallorca, Spain between the 18th and 25th November 2019. The parties to ICCAT adopted 17 recommendations and resolutions: two in relation with the new ICCAT Convention; six in relation with control, monitoring and surveillance activities; one in relation with marine pollution; as well as eight in relation to the conservation and management measures of marine species. In particular, ICCAT adopted interim measures restricting fishing on juvenile bigeye and yellowfin tuna in the Atlantic by limiting fishing activities on fishing aggregating devices (FADs). ICCAT also adopted a total TAC for the southern Atlantic blue shark (28,923 t) and a quota allocation to countries targeting the northern Atlantic blue shark. The parties also agreed on a rebuilding programme for marlins and a new conservation measure for the northern shortfin mako.
4. The IOTC Working Group on Tropical tunas considered a report on overfishing in 2018 by Spanish purse seiners operating in the Indian Ocean, by an estimated 13,607 tonnes of yellowfin tuna, corresponding to 30% of their catch allocation. This follows overfishing by this fleet segment in 2017, resulting in the Commission applying a reduction in their permitted catches for 2018 and 2019 of 2,465 tonnes. No other sanctions have been proposed at this stage. The IOTC Scientific Committee will meet on the 2nd December at which it is expected to provide further scientific advice for management of the yellowfin tuna stock.
5. The Commissioner-designate for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Mr.Virginijus Sinkevi?ius, appeared before the European Parliament on 3 October 2019 to answer questions put by MEPs from the Committees on ENVI and PECH. During the hearing, he made a number of commitments including delivering the new Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, delivering on the zero-pollution ambition, setting out the EU's ambitions for the CoP 2020 to the Convention on Biological Diversity and Evaluating the Common Fisheries Policy by 2022 to identify how to address issues not sufficiently covered at present.
6. The European Parliament's Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies published a study for the PECH Committee entitled "EU fisheries policy - latest developments and future challenges". The study reviewed the 2013 reform of the CFP, finding that several objectives, and in particular the landing obligation, had not been achieved. It noted that fleets and producers are conditioned by access and trade agreements, respectively, and some EU markets depend highly on imported species. It notes that Brexit provides opportunities to revisit the exploitation of shared stocks. It recommends that capacity-building, clauses in partnership agreements, addressing unregulated sea areas, amongst others, require further EU attention to deter unsustainable practices.
7. The European Parliament's Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies has published a study prepared by consultants for the PECH Committee, entitled "Seafood industry integration in all EU Member States with a coastline". The study profiles the fishery sector enterprises in all Member States with a coastline researches the drivers and mechanisms of both structural and non-structural horizontal and vertical integration of businesses in the seafood industry. The objective of the study was to identify trends among the Member
States, and found that they generally fall into three broad, inter-linked categories: regulatory environment, natural resources and firm performance
8. The EU and the Government of Mauritania agreed, through an exchange of letters, on an extension to the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in their Fisheries Partnership Agreement. This will extend the Protocol on the same terms for up to one year from 15 November 2019, pending conclusion of negotiations on a new protocol. The Decision was confirmed by the EU.
9. The EU formally adopted the decision to sign the new Protocol under the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership between the EU and Senegal. The Council has delegated power to sign to the European Commission. The new Protocol provides fishing opportunities for 28 purse seiners, 10 pole and line vessels, 5 longliners and 2 trawlers. The total value of this five-year Protocol is estimated at EUR 15 253 750, or EUR 3 050 750 per year. The annual amount will include EUR 1 700 000 per year from the financial contribution comprising EUR 800 000 as financial compensation for access to resources (including an amount equivalent to a reference tonnage of 10 000 tonnes per year for highly migratory species) and a specific amount of EUR 900 000 per year for five years to support implementation of the Senegalese sectoral fisheries policy. Contributions by EU vessel operators are expected to reach EUR 1 350 750 per year. The EU allocated the fishing opportunities as follows: 28 purse seiners (France and Spain), 10 pole and line vessels (France and Spain), 5 longliners (Spain and Portugal) and 2 trawlers (Spain).
10. The Commission held a public hearing on its proposals for a revision of the EU Fisheries Control System. The hearing received inputs from experts in the field and focused on the weaknesses of the current EU fisheries control system. The Members of the EU Parliament's Fisheries Committee exchanged views with experts on best practices and how they could be further developed and implemented in the reform process.
11. The 43rd General Fisheries Commission for Mediterranean (GFCM) Annual Session was held in Athens from 4 to 9 November 2019 and attended by 24 countries. Recommendations and resolutions were adopted in relation to management plans for turbot in the Black Sea, red coral in the Mediterranean, blackspot seabream in the Alboran sea, demersals in the Adriatic, and deep-water shrimps in the Strait of Sicily. Management measures concerning the composition, maintenance, identification and retrieval of fish aggregating devices (FADs) were endorsed to better asses their impact on dolphinfish. The parties agreed to increase efforts to protecting cetaceans and adopted resolutions mitigating by-catches and preventing significant adverse effects of fishing activities. A working group on new technologies was also set up to focus on the issues of gear selectivity and mitigation of by catches. GFCM will also host a high-level meeting (June 2020, Algiers) for the adoption of the new GFCM Strategy for the five-year period (2021-2025) and a conference on the follow-up of the Sofia declaration (October 2020, Georgia). The 44th GFCM Annual Session will be held in November 2020 in Tirana.
12. The North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) held its 38th annual meeting in London from 12 to 14 November 2019. During the meeting, the European Union and the other contracting parties agreed on a number of conservation and management measures for 2020, covering several fish stocks, such as, blue whiting, Atlanto-Scandian herring, mackerel, porbeagle, basking shark, deep-sea sharks, chimaeras, rays and Rockall haddock. The Delegations also agreed on the full implementation of the electronic transmission of fishing logbook and position information. The EU indicated that it will be the first contracting party to implement such processes.
13. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2019, containing articles on European seabass in France, Portugal, the UK and John Dory in France, Italy, Portugal, Fresh trout in France, Poland and the UK and case studies on fisheries and aquaculture in Argentina and Aquaculture in the EU.
14. The European Commission published a "Survey of alien species in marine protected areas", a project funded by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. The survey, financed with an EU contribution of €66,500, was conducted in 27 individual sites in two Natura 2000 marine protected areas off the coast of Cyprus over a 24-month period in six seasonal expeditions. The study found that of all the species identified, 272 were characterised as native, 45 as alien, two as cryptogenic and one as range expanding. A steady increase in the alien-to-native ratio was observed from the beginning of the survey period to the end.
15. The European Commission Director at the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission (Ms. Veronika Veits) attended the "International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability - Strengthening the Science-Policy Nexus" organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome from 18 to 21 November. Ms.Veits participated in the discussion panel on policy opportunities for fisheries in the 21st century, where she spoke on pathways to strengthen the interplay of science and policy in fisheries production, management and trade, in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and in the perspective of the UN Decade on Ocean Science for Sustainable development.
16. The European Commission held the 6th Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference (12-13 November, Porto, Portugal), to discuss the blue economy of the EU Atlantic area. Discussions focused on the revision and upgrade of the Atlantic Action Plan, the role of ports as blue economy hubs in the Atlantic Area, the open innovation concept to create a network of innovative ports and possible funding opportunities for the maritime industry.
17. The European Commission called for proposals for activities linked to the European Maritime Day (EMD) Conference in Cork (14 & 15 May 2020), and the "EMD In My Country" events will take place all over Europe for the public at large (from April to June 2020). During 2019, 145 events were organised in 23 different countries, attracting 25,000 participants. For 2020 the focus will be on youth activities. The deadline for submission of proposals is 31 January 2020.
18. During November 2019 there were 33 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 6 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 17 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and 1 rapid alert notification for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of mussels from Spain packaged in Italy and 2 consignments of smoked fish from Ghana.
19. The European Commission DG SANTE published a report of an audit mission to Macedonia in May 2019, to assess the controls on health conditions of live aquaculture products exported to the EU. The mission found that the system does not provide the necessary assurances regarding compliance or equivalence with EU aquatic animal health conditions. Whilst EU legislation has been transposed important components have not been implemented. No training or instructions were provided to veterinary practitioners in the detection of disease outbreaks in aquaculture fish; diagnostic tests undertaken in the national laboratory were not implemented in a consistent manner; there were inadequate controls on imported live fish, and a failure to implement the restrictions on movement of fish when three outbreaks of IHN were detected in 2018, along with inadequate follow-up investigations. The notifications of the three outbreaks to OIE were inaccurate, official veterinarians certifying live fish for export to other third countries were not trained for this task, and export certificates did not contain accurate information. The Competent Authority, the Department for Animal Health and Welfare of the Food and Veterinary Agency was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions.
20. The European Commission DG SANTE published a report of an audit mission to Belarus in May 2019, to assess the controls on health conditions for fishery products exported to the EU and to follow up on the findings of a previous audit on dairy products. The mission found that the official controls over fishery products largely cover the EU requirements, but gaps in the implementation undermined their effectiveness. The Competent Authority lacked adequate understanding of EU requirements, and national legislation did not reflect EU standards in relation to microbiological criteria, PAH, histamine and temperature of chilled and frozen fishery products. Three Central Competent Authorities had mandates for food safety of fishery and dairy products; Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Ministry for Health Protection and the Council of Ministers. Veterinary inspectors signing health certificates had not received relevant training and did not have adequate knowledge of the relevant EU requirements. One fishery products establishment had been placed on the list of approved establishments without complying with EU requirements. The CA did not carry out controls over the eligibility of imported raw material subsequently exported to the EU. Risks of contamination of ready to eat smoked fish in one establishment were not addressed (even though it had been the subject of two rapid alerts for Listeria). In a cooked shrimp peeling establishment supplying the EU, the CA inspectors had overlooked shortcomings in the HACCP-based procedures resulting in the relevant hazards not being controlled, even though the State Committee of Standardisation had certified the HACCP system the previous month. In addition, the use of additives was not correctly labelled. The mission concluded that gaps in the control framework and its implementation limit the capability of the CAs to ensure that EU approved establishments meet EU requirements. The Belarusian State Veterinary Centre, the Public Health Service and the State Committee of Standardisation were requested to guarantee the implementation of a plan of corrective actions addressing the identified deficiencies.
21. In preparation for Brexit, the Commission has adopted two implementing regulations placing the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland and its Crown Dependencies on the list of third countries, territories, zones or compartments authorised for supply to the EU, in the first case of aquaculture animals, and in the second case of bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates, marine gastropods and fishery products for human consumption.
22. The Commission announced the opening of a Public Consultation on the subject of food irradiation and the adequacy of current legislation.
23. Following an EFSA opinion on antimicrobial resistance in food and food producing animals, and as provided for by the EU action plan on AMR adopted in June 2017, the Commission announced its intention to repeal existing measures and introduced a new Decision on the monitoring of AMR in food and food producing animals to apply as from 2021.
24. The Commission held an exchange of views on a draft Commission Implementing Regulation concerning the addition of Armenia to the list of third countries authorised for entry into the EU of snails and extending the list of third countries authorised for entry into the EU of gelatine, collagen and insects for human consumption. Several Member States expressed reluctance on the proposal for listing third countries authorised to import insects and the extension of species of snails. However, they were overruled and a favourable opinion was adopted by qualified majority.
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