1. European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevi?ius made a statement outlining and explaining the Commission's response to the impacts of the COVID19 crisis on the EU's fishery and maritime sector. The Commission has allowed Member States to mobilise cash reserves in the European Structural and Investments Funds, it has amended the envelope for the EMFF (see below) and introduced a new Temporary Framework for State aid, allowing Member States to support their fishers and aquaculture producers with up to EUR 120,000 per business.
2. The European Commission has decided to increase the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) with an additional funding of EUR500 million, to help alleviate the immediate socio-economic impact on the sector of COVID19. This is an increase of more than 8% compared to the budget initially proposed for the EMFF in 2018.
3. The Commission adopted its annual communication concerning the implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy and launched a public consultation on the fishing opportunities for 2021. Member States, Advisory Councils, the fishing industry, non-governmental organisations, and interested citizens are invited to provide comments online at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/consultations/fishing-opportunities-2021-under-common-fisheries-policy_en. The European Council published a video on the way in which EU fish stocks are managed, explaining how catch limits and quotas are set.
4. The Council adopted a regulation amending 2020 Baltic Sea fishing quotas for EU vessels and several rules concerning fishing in other areas. In particular tuna vessels face new restrictions on drifting FADs and supply vessels.
5. The European Commission organised an online webinar with the participation of representatives from the EU's nine outermost regions. Discussions focused on blue economy development and recovery measures taken by the EU due to the COVID-19 crisis, such as state aid measures and dedicated support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The Commission presented a study on Methodological Assistance for the Outermost Regions to Support their Efforts to Develop Blue Economy which provides guidance for local governments of the regions.
6. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Portuguese vessels fishing for bluefin tuna in the specific archipelagos for artisanal vessels, and for French vessels fishing for anglerfish.
7. The EU ratified the extension of the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania, agreed previously in an exchange of letters. The agreement expired on 15 November 2019.
8. The EU has ratified an amended Protocol to the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. This commits the parties to the strengthening of the role of RFMOs and improve their governance.
9. The UK Government announced the import tariffs that it will apply to goods entering the UK from countries with which the UK has no trade agreement (the UK Global Tariff UKGT) which will apply from 1 January 2021 when the UK-EU transition period ends. Seafood products will be subject to tariffs that are either identical or reduced compared to the EU's tariff regime, with reductions range between 0 and 4% over all seafood product descriptions, with an average reduction of 0.7%.
10. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2020, containing articles on Greenland Halibut and Turbot and consumption of clams in Italy and Portugal.
11. EUMOFA also published a new study "Commercial and recreational fisheries for wild seabass in the Atlantic - economic and market study". The study highlights the main market trends for wild seabass in Europe, including the fleets' economic dependency on seabass, the impact of recreational fisheries, as well as the significant market segmentation depending on production methods (wild-caught or farmed), size of the catch and type of gear used.
12. The European Commission published "The EU Blue Economy Report 2020", providing an overview of the performance of the EU economic sectors related to oceans and the coastal environment. The EU blue economy provided a turnover of €750 billion in 2018 employed 5 million people, 11.6% more than 2017. European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevi?ius said: "Maritime renewable energy, food from the sea, sustainable coastal and maritime tourism, the blue bio-economy and many other activities constituting the blue economy will help us come out of this crisis stronger".
13. Although the European Maritime Day (EMD) 2020 Conference (foreseen to be held in Cork, Ireland) had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis and the related social distancing measures, many "EMD In My Country" open air or virtual events are going ahead. Check the updated list with the events of 2020 at https://ec.europa.eu/maritimeaffairs/maritimeday/en/events-in-europe.
14. The Commission's EURONews Ocean information channel produced in collaboration with the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE), publicised the EU's support to the Alga4Food Project at the Universidade NOVA de Lisboa, which aims to explore the benefits of edible macro algae (seaweed) from the Portuguese coast and promote their culinary uses.
15. OCEAN also published two new 8-minute videos highlighting projects and developments related to the ocean and coastal communities. One of them explores seaweed farming and its economic potential for development in the EU.
16. During June 2020 there were 24 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were two rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, one rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 21 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod or gastropod products. These included 3 consignments of smoked Salmon from Serbia.
17. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on a mission to Slovenia in February 2020 to audit the control systems in place for fish and fishery products and to follow up on a previous fishery products audit in 2012. The mission found that whilst a generally sound system of controls was implemented, there were certain shortcomings observed. Non-compliances went unnoticed and/or not recorded by inspectors concerning the absence of a temperature recording device in a cold store for frozen products. One operator conducted own-checks for histamine with only one sample (instead of nine as required by EU sampling protocols). The laboratory applied an incorrect maximum regulatory limit for histamine. In general, the mission concluded that official control system was in place and considered in line with EU requirements. The Competent Authority, the Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection (AFSVSPP) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food undertook to correct the shortcomings identified.
18. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on a mission to Guatemala in January 2020 to audit the control systems in place for fishery products exported to the EU, and to follow up on a previous fishery products audit in 2012. The mission found that the legislation lacked a requirement for control systems in freezer vessels based on the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points principles, and that temperature requirements for fresh/chilled products were not in line with EU requirements. Supervision of inspectors did not detect shortcomings related application of checklists. Lists of freezer vessels were not updated frequently enough, one freezer vessel was double listed (on EU-lists of Guatemala and of Panama) for 2 and a half years. HACCP plans of freezer vessels visited by the Commission in Abidjan had out of date HACCP plans which did not reflect accurately the operations carried out on board. Inspectors were not aware of the issue concerning dual tanks (fuel storage and brine freezing). Imported raw materials for processing for re-export to the EU were identified which were from an establishment of origin not approved for export to the EU. There was no sampling from many of the listed freezer vessels, despite the fact they were inspected every four years. Laboratory tests for histamine, lead, cadmium, water and ice did not follow EU reference methods of analysis. There was no evidence of proficiency testing in one of the accredited laboratories, casting doubts on the reliability of the analytical results. The health certificates did not identify separately products certified for - for "human consumption" from those for the "canning industry". Furthermore EU-listed freezer vessels were erroneously requesting to the authority of another third country (Côte D'Ivoire) to issue of EU export certificates for transhipped products. The Competent Authority (the Dirección de Inocuidad de Alimentos under the Ministerio de Agricultura, Ganadería y Alimentación) was requested to guarantee the implementation of an agreed plan of corrective actions.
19. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on a mission to Panama in February 2020 to audit the control systems in place for fishery products exported to the EU. The sector includes 11 Factory Vessels, 23 Freezer Vessels and 122 Reefer Vessels operating globally (with there has been a twofold increase in the number of EU-listed vessels since 2014). The mission found that some staff had gaps in their knowledge of HACCP based procedures, which impacted on their technical performance. Two (land-based) approved facilities did not comply with the relevant standards. Inspection visits to vessels (ZVs, FVs and RVs) operating in international waters are carried out annually, but no official sampling of fishery products takes place during overseas inspection visits. The audit found that there was an insufficient level of fishery product testing, especially from freezer vessels. Domestically based long liners freezing onboard were not included on the EU list of approved vessels. Two EU-listed facilities did not comply with the relevant structural, maintenance and hygiene standards. One establishment had loose unidentified vacuum-packed tuna, some of which had been treated with carbon monoxide. The Competent Authority (the Departamento de Protección de Alimentos - DEPA, within the Ministry of Health Ministerio de Salud - MINSA) was requested to guarantee the implementation of an agreed plan of corrective actions.
20. The EU Food Fraud Network published its May 2020 Newsletter summarising some examples of food fraud reported around the world: In Cambodia the Ministry of Commerce's General Department of Consumer Protection, Competition and Fraud Prevention destroyed 11 tonnes of seafood contaminated with chemical substances.
In Italy, according to the Italian Coastguard, several cases were reported of shark meat (in particular, the Mako shark Isurus oxyrinchus) being sold as swordfish. In the EU, American lobsters have been freed in European waters during some commercial activities and there is now evidence of hybridisation with European lobsters, creating difficulties for labelling.
21. The EU Food Fraud Network published its 2019 annual report. Out of 292 requests for administrative assistance within the network (DG SANTÉ and Member State Competent Authorities) 42 concerned fish and fishery products (the second highest category after fats and oils). Mislabelling accounted for nearly half of the cases investigated. A notable case investigated concerns the illegal fishing and smuggling of glass eels (baby eels) to Asia where they supply aquaculture farms.
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