1. The United Kingdom and the European Union agreed to a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), applicable on a provisional basis from 1 January 2021, which addressed the domain of fisheries. During a transition period until 30 June 2026, each of the Parties have agreed to grant to vessels of the other Party full access to its waters to fish specified TAC and non-quota stocks in the respective Excusive Economic Zones and in a specified part of the waters of the Parties between six and twelve nautical miles. In the absence of TACs agreed for 2021 between the EU and the UK for the jointly managed and shared fish stocks, the EU Council of Fisheries Ministers has agreed temporary fishing opportunities during its 17 December meeting. Vessels will receive a temporary licence in accordance with the respective Parties' laws, pending a detailed agreement on procedures to permit access.
2. The EU adopted the regulation setting the 2021 and 2022 TACs, quotas and fisheries management measures for EU fish stocks, decided at the December 2020 Council meeting. The meeting also adopted the regulation setting the 2021 fisheries management measures for the fish stocks of the Mediterranean and Black Seas and the 2021 and 2022 TACs, quotas and fisheries management measures for deep sea fish stocks.
3. Stop fishing notice were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by French vessels fishing for alfonsinos and undulate ray and Polish vessels fishing for herring.
4. On 8 January 2021, the EU and Greenland concluded negotiations for a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and a new Protocol that will set out the terms of cooperation in the fisheries sector for the next four years with the possibility of a two-year extension. It will allow the EU fleet (12 large-scale industrial trawlers targeting Cod, Redfish, Greenland Halibut, Northern Prawn, Capelin and Grenadier) to continue fishing in Greenland waters for a duration of the Protocol. The EU will provide Greenland with an annual financial contribution of EUR16.5 million of which EUR2.9million per year is earmarked to promote the development of the Greenland fisheries sector.
5. The Commission published the 2020 Annual Economic Report on the EU Fishing Fleet presenting data for the year 2018. The EU fleet registered a net profit of €800 million mainly due to higher average fish prices, low fuel prices, and the improved status of some important stocks. This trend continued into 2019. The report projects that in 2020, the EU fleet remained profitable overall, despite the effects of COVID-19 on the fleet and fish markets. More sustainable fishing and lower fuel costs have helped to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. he large-scale and distant-water fleet segments registered better economic performance than the small-scale coastal fleet segments. Furthermore, the fleet segments operating in the North Eastern Atlantic, where most fished stocks are managed at sustainable levels, registered higher economic performance than the fleet segments operating in the Mediterranean, where numerous stocks still face overfishing or overexploitation problems.
6. The EU has updated its list of designated fishing ports at which transhipment operations by third country vessels may take place.
7. The EU adopted a regulation aligning the EU rules with the recent decisions of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. The new rules adjust the Closure periods for purse seine vessels for tropical tunas, prohibit the of fishing around data buoys, report on the deployment of fish-aggregating devices and new conservation measures for a range of marine species, including ocean white tip sharks.
8. EUMOFA has published a study on the price structures in the supply chain for smoked eel, with a focus on the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. The EU-28 Member States produced 7.663 tonnes of eel in 2018 (3% of world eel production). Eel is not sold by most large-scale retail chains due to the state of the stock and is mainly small-scale production. Due to the restricted supply and high cost of raw material the retail price (incl. VAT) ranges from 48,69 EUR/kg in Germany to 60,17 EUR/kg in the Netherlands.
9. The European Commission announced a new partnership with the European Investment Fund, to launch a EUR 45 million BlueInvest Fund. The fund will target financing in the form of equity capital for start-up enterprises in strategic blue economy sector across Europe, with an emphasis on innovative products, materials, and services to improve food security, health and sustainability.
10. The European Commission released a summary of the results of the 2020 public consultation on the way forward for the European Union's Arctic policy, as set out in the Joint Communication from 2016 (addressing climate change and protecting the environment, promoting sustainable development and strengthening international cooperation). The consultation confirmed the continued relevance of the current Arctic priorities, but stakeholders advised that the EU should act more strongly to discourage environmentally unsustainable practices that undermine Arctic ecosystems, inhabitants and species, make a stronger link between climate policy, the European Green Deal and the updated EU Arctic and maintain science and research at the heart of EU policies and actions in the Arctic.
11. During January 2021 there were 15 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 2 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 1 rapid alert notification for crustacean products, 9 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. Several consignments of fish from Vietnam were found to have been subject to unauthorized irradiation (including frozen tilapia, catfish and mullet fillets).
12. DG SANTE issued a press release setting out the final arrangements for sanitary and phytosanitary arrangements with the UK, as a new third country supplying the EU market with agricultural and fishery products from 1 January 2021. It announced that outstanding issues were resolved in the areas of sanitary, phytosanitary (SPS) and pharmaceuticals policy under the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (NI). Under the terms of the Protocol Northern Ireland will remain in the EU single market for the SPS area, requiring border checks on animals, plants and their products entering NI from GB. The Commission also indicated that in December, it amended relevant legislation to list the UK amongst the third countries authorised to export animals and animal products to the EU, as well as the Delegated Act on transit to ensure Ireland unrestricted access to the internal market.
13. The EuroCigua project which began in April 2016 held its final international scientific meeting to present its main findings on this EUR2 million study into the presence of ciguatera toxins in EU fishery products. Ciguatera is a food poisoning associated with consumption of fishery products that contain toxins produced by the microalgae Gambierdiscus toxicus. The study found that ciguatera has been implicated in 23 outbreaks and 167 cases in several EU countries (mostly Spain and Portugal, but also Cyprus and Greece) between 2012 and 2018. The study sampled and tested fishery products and found that barracuda, moray eel, grouper, amberjack, sea bass, sturgeon, parrot fish, surgeonfish, and red snapper were the most frequently affected species.
14. The European Animal Welfare NGO EUROGROUP for Animals published a report setting out how the welfare of fish harvested in capture fisheries is compromised by different common fishing gears and practices leading up to death. The report details, backed up with the latest scientific evidence in each case, the different ways in which fish may suffer under different harvesting conditions. The report presents argument for policy actions to improve fish welfare in European capture fisheries, though improved gear design and improved practices onboard, including stunning of fish where feasible.
15. Following a request from the European Commission, the Scientific Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) of the European Food Safety Authority has provided a scientific opinion on the safety of super-chilling of fish. The investigation, including modelling of thermal properties of iced v.superchilled stored fish, found that super-chilling presented no additional risk of the presence or multiplication of microbiological hazards. The study also reported on the validity of several analytical test methods proposed to detect the difference between and previously frozen fish and super-chilled fresh fish, including the hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (HADH) test. All methods would methods would benefit from standardisation, the establishment of threshold values and development of classification algorithms to provide a practical routine test.
16. The Commission published the latest food fraud newsletter with reports from around the world. In a national traceability campaign "Frontiere Tracciabili" Italian authorities seized several consignments of fish, totaling 80 tonnes, lacking the required traceability documentation. The Spanish authorities seized and destroyed more than 400 kg of "expired" fish lacking any traceability documentation. In Mexico, according to the NGO Oceana México, around one third of cod products actually contain other species, mostly sharks or rays.
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