1. The European Economic and Social Committee, a committee of civil society representatives providing advice to the European Parliament, has published an opinion the proposed EU Regulation of the European Parliament eliminating fishing for Eastern Baltic cod, and changes to the associated Baltic Sea fisheries data collection and control measures. Whilst the need for urgent action is recognised, the Committee considers that the decision not to allow cod fishing will result in the collapse of a significant part of the sea fishing activities in some Member States, which will result not only in unemployed fishers but also have adverse negative effects on small-scale fish processing, on direct sales and on the tourism sector. It also considers that that by forbidding vessel conversion to leisure and tourist fishing, the proposal shuts off a practical employment and business solution for operators.
2. The European Commission adopted a new set of measures under the European Maritime & Fisheries Fund (EMFF) to counter the impacts on the sector of the corona virus pandemic. The package includes subsidies for the temporary cessation of fishing activities due to coronavirus, support to aquaculture farmers for the suspension of production and additional costs, and support to producer organisations for the storage of fishery and aquaculture products. Additional amendments to the EMFF Regulation allow for more flexible reallocation of financial resources within the operational programmes of each Member State and a simplified procedure for amending operational programmes with respect to the introduction of the new measures. In order to ensure that funds are available for disbursement under the new Corona measures, the Commission waived the obligation in 2020 for Member States to refund unspent pre-financing from 2019. In addition, starting on 30 March (earlier than usual) the Commission decided to launch the 2020 annual EMFF pre-financing process for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). A sum of up to €160.3 million was released to Member States to accelerate subsidies in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
3. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by all European Union vessels fishing for redfish in the NAFO 3M and Spanish vessels fishing for white marlin in the Atlantic Ocean.
4. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2020, containing articles on First sales in Europe European seabass (France, Portugal, Spain) and surmullet (France, Italy, Spain) and fresh mackerel in Denmark, Ireland, and the Netherlands. It also includes case studies on fisheries and aquaculture in Norway and scallop in the European market
5. During April 2020 there were 13 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There was 1 rapid alert notification for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 10 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products or gastropod products. These included 3 consignments of pangasius from Vietnam via the Netherlands.
6. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed Section Novel Food and Toxicological Safety of the Food Chain further considered the monitoring of mineral oil hydrocarbons in food and in materials and articles intended to come into contact with food. Member States are to be given more time to report and are recommended to focus on specific commodities, including marinated (pickled) fish (herrings), smoked fish (trout, carp, mackerel), canned/jarred fish in oil (anchovy, sprats etc).
7. Member States discussed a draft Commission Regulation which will make permanent the derogations provided to certain countries regarding maximum levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in traditionally smoked meat and meat products and traditionally smoked fish and fishery products. Evidence was provided that it was not possible to reduce PAH levels further without losing typical organoleptic characteristics in certain traditionally smoked fish and smoked fishery products in Latvia, Finland and Sweden (as well several smoked meat products in other countries). As a result, the measure was agreed and the derogations will become permanent.
8. The EU's Food Fraud newsletter reports a study carried out by an NGO in Ciudad de Mexico, in which the average content of extraneous water in the fish sold at retailers was on average 30 % and in some cases up to 57 %. No information was given on the labels to indicate that the fish had been glazed.
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