1. EUMOFA reported on markets for low value and unwanted catches, following the introduction of the EU's landing obligation. The study focused on case studies in demersal and mixed fisheries, and reviewed H2020 projects looking at improved catch utilisation. It found that available data on landings of unwanted catches is incomplete and incomparable between EU Member States. The reported landings of "unwanted catches" are low relative to the overall landings (below 0.1% in total) but there are indications of illegal discards and underreporting. Fishmeal, fish oil and animal feed are identified as the only economically and practically viable market outlets at present. It has not been economically feasible to develop other markets for landings of unwanted catches, because of their low and varying volumes; the price achieved is often lower than the costs sustained by the fishers.
2. The European Commission issued a statement urging Fisheries and Environment Ministers of 22 European Union Member States to collaborate in finding a solution for the by-catch of dolphins and other marine animals, especially in the Bay of Biscay and the Celtic Sea. The statement indicates that 1200 dead dolphins washed up on the beaches of the Bay of Biscay from December 2018 to March 2019, with the majority showing evidence of that they probably died in fishing nets. Member States are cautioned to ensure that existing technical measures to prevent incidental catches of cetacean are properly implemented.
3. The Commission published an evaluation of the implementation of the 2007 eel regulation, 12 years after its entry into force. The regulation sought to ensure that at least 40% of adult eels escape to the sea, by limiting professional and recreational fisheries and support for restocking suitable inland waters. The evaluation found that despite reduced fishing efforts and a concerted attempt to develop a pan-EU management framework, the status of the European eel remains critical. Member States' restocking and reporting activities were found to be incomplete. Although the eel regulation offers the necessary framework to help restore the stock, the study concludes that its recovery is still far from certain.
4. The EU hosted a three-day meeting for scientists from the 10 signatories to the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean. The meeting took place from 11 to 13 February 2020 at the EU Joint Research Centre in Ispra (Italy). The agreement will ban unregulated fisheries in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean for 16 years. During this period, a scientific research and monitoring programme will be implemented. The Commission reported that it has allocated funding through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to allow European researchers to collect data on ecosystems in the Central Arctic Ocean. The research group is currently taking part in the yearlong MOSAiC expedition on board the German ice-breaker, MV Polarstern.
5. The Commission published a summary of the 2018 Economic Report of the EU Aquaculture Sector, which provides a comprehensive overview of the latest information available on the production, economic value, structure and competitive performance of the aquaculture sector at national and EU levels for the years 2008 to 2016. The study found that there has been a continuous improvement in the performance of the sector, producing 1.4 million tonnes in 2016, valued at about EUR5 billion (3.1% up on the previous period). Aquaculture production corresponds to 28% of the volume and 65% of the value of EU marine capture fisheries, and generated EUR800 million in profit.
6. The Commission published a report setting out the key findings of the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries (STECF) 2019 "Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet". The report includes results from recent studies and market analysis and indicates that the profitability of the EU fleet in 2017 continued to be highly positive, albeit slightly lower than 2016. There were 65,567 active vessels, with direct employment for 151,981 fishers. Landings were 5.3 million tonnes (up 7.6% on 2016) valued at EUR7.7 billion (down 0.6% on 2016). Gross profit was estimated to be just under EUR2 billion, with Gross Value Added estimated at EUR4.5 billion.
7. The EU Council authorised the signature of the EU-Seychelles Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, and the adoption of a new Protocol for the period 2020-2026. The Protocol will be applied on a provisional basis as from the signature on 24 February 2020. The EU allocated the tuna purse seine opportunities (40 vessels) to Spain, France and Italy. Surface longlining opportunities (8 vessels) are allocated to Spain, France and Portugal.
8. The Commission adopted a regulation amending the detailed rules for the transmission of reports and information to the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission. The changes will allow for compliance with the decisions of NEAFC at its 2018 Annual Meeting, to adopt a new electronic reporting system for the communication of data between the contracting parties and the NEAFC Secretariat based on the UN/FLUX standard.
9. During an audit, Poland was found to have overfished its Atlantic salmon quota for 2017 by 2,246 individuals, and the Commission has therefore implemented a corresponding deduction from the quota available for 2019.
10. A stop fishing notice has been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by several Member States vessels fishing for cod in the areas 1 and 2b.
11. The EU adopted a regulation bringing into force recent decisions of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) to re-define its Regulatory Area and detailed conservation and enforcement measures.
12. The Commission adopted the updated list of vessels engaged in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as required in the IUU fishing Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008). The list now runs to 10 pages.
13. The Commission published a new list of designated ports in EU Member States, at which landings and transhipment operations of fishery products are allowed and port services are accessible for third country fishing vessels.
14. The EU adopted a regulation to amend the autonomous Union tariff quotas for imports of certain fishery products into the EU, for the period 2019?2020.
15. The European Commission organised an international workshop on environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) in areas beyond national jurisdiction, held in Brussels on 28 and 29 January 2020. The event was organised in the context of ongoing negotiations on a new legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). At the start of the workshop, Virginijus Sinkevi?ius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: "Let's seize the opportunity this year for concluding a new Treaty that will protect the high seas, half of our planet."
16. EUMOFA reported on the price structure in the supply chain for canned sprat, with a
focus on Poland and Latvia. The study found that a retail price of EUR 5.13 included an average selling price of EUR 0.18 for the fishers, and EUR 0.10 margin for the processor, whilst EUR1.07 was retained for the retailer costs and margin.
17. The Commission has announced the launch of the International Ocean Governance Forum, to bring together actors, stakeholders and experts within and beyond Europe for interactive dialogues on ocean challenges and governance solutions. The IOG forum will be launched with a high-level event on April 22, 2020. Online registration of interested parties is invited.
18. The Commission supported the launch of the Common maritime agenda for the Black Sea at an event in Sofia on February 17, 2020, with participation by Governments of Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Turkey. The participants will host a number of regional seminars, stakeholder events and high-level meetings in participating states with the aim of raising awareness, facilitating stakeholders' involvement and networking and identifying significant projects for the region. Marine litter, protection against pollution of marine resources, green sustainable shipping and digital connectivity will be the key issues addressed initially.
19. Euronews released a new OCEAN episode, which visits three Macaronesian archipelagos to see how maritime spatial planning is working across borders and sectors, ensuring human activities at sea take place in an efficient, safe and sustainable way.
20. The European Commission announced that it will partner with the European Investment Fund, (part of the European Investment Bank Group - EIB), in the launch the BlueInvest Fund, a €75 million equity investment fund for the blue economy. The BlueInvest Fund will be managed by the European Investment Fund and will provide financing to underlying equity funds that strategically target and support the innovative blue economy. The new fund is complemented by the European Commission's BlueInvest platform, which supports investment readiness and access to finance for early-stage businesses, SMEs and scale-ups. Through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the Commission also funds an additional €40 million grant scheme, to help blue economy SMEs with developing and bringing to market new innovative and sustainable products, technologies and services.
21. The Commission announced that the 2020 European Maritime Day (EMD) Conference and Expo, will take place this year in Cork, Ireland (14 & 15 May). The event will be organised jointly by the European Commission, and the City of Cork. It will feature sessions on "The Green Deal and European Maritime Policy towards 2050", five EU policy sessions and 20 thematic workshops organised by maritime stakeholders. Online registration is now open.
22. The Commission announced that for the 2020 "European Maritime Day in My Country" more than 200 events will cover all the EU sea basins with activities in 18 EU countries and 3 non-EU countries from the beginning of April until mid-July. Activities will include eco-tours and excursions in coastal areas, beach-cleaning activities, guided tours of ports by boat, visits to maritime museums, aquaria and shipyards, art exhibitions, workshops,
conferences, seminars and many other activities with maritime themes.
23. During February 2020 there were 33 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 23 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod or gastropod products. These included 7 consignments of live oysters from France.
24. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on an audit conducted in Mauritania in September 2019 to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of live bivalve molluscs intended for export to the European Union. Currently Mauritania is not authorised to export bivalve molluscs in any form for human consumption to the EU. The mission found that although most of the EU requirements have been directly incorporated into national legislation, the implementation was only partial and those measures which had been introduced were deficient, particularly regarding the classification and monitoring of production areas. The mission also expressed concerns regarding the reliability of laboratory results for some of the parameters monitored. As a result the official control system of live bivalve molluscs in Mauritania cannot be considered to give similar guarantees of "at least equivalence" to those applied in the EU, and the Mauritanian competent authority is not in a position to reliably certify the health attestations of the certificate needed to export live bivalve molluscs intended for human consumption to the EU. The Commission gave recommendations to the Competent Authority (the Office National d'Inspection Sanitaire des Produits de la pêche et de l'Aquaculture - ONISPA) for the correction of the deficiencies noted.
25. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on an audit conducted in Belarus in November 2019 to evaluate the control systems in place governing the animal health controls on live aquaculture animals intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that the competent authority has adequate structure and legal powers to implement a system of animal health controls on aquaculture production businesses. However, the Competent Authority, the Department of Veterinary and Food Supervision, does not check local registers of aquaculture producers. Official veterinarians inspecting aquaculture operations have no training on viral fish diseases. There are no national contingency plans for viral fish diseases. The Competent Authority self-declares disease freedom for five viral fish diseases, but it does not comply with critical rules of the OIE aquatic code. For 24 years there has been no testing based on suspicion of relevant viral diseases. There are no import controls based on animal health conditions. Whilst the CA relies on testing by Lithuania and the Russian Federation laboratories, no agreements were in place. According to DG SANTÉ "the system in place does not allow the authorities to give the necessary assurances regarding compliance or equivalence with the relevant aquatic animal health conditions when certifying live aquaculture fish for export to the EU". The Commission made some recommendations.
26. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on an audit conducted in Namibia in November 2019 to evaluate the control systems in place governing the food safety controls on fishery products intended for export to the European Union. The mission found that there was adequate legislation in place, as well as comprehensive documented procedures, to provide the guarantees required by the European Union export health certificate. In general, official controls identified relevant findings and ensured follow-up of corrective actions. However, one establishment listed for export to the European Union did not meet relevant hygiene standard and the competent authority had not enforced corrective actions for non-compliances. In addition, dioxin monitoring was discontinued in 2015 after a series of negative results. The audit concluded that these deficiencies only impact to a limited extent on the on the ability of the competent authority, the Namibian Standards Institute, to the guarantees required by the EU health certificate when exporting fishery products to the EU.
27. A new pro-biotic animal feed additive has been approved by the Commission. Pediococcus acidilactici may be added to animal feeds, including for fish and crustacea, as a functional 'gut flora stabiliser'.
28. Eurobarometer published an interactive map showing the extent of EU citizens' concerns about different aspects of food safety:
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