1. Member State Ministers attended the Agriculture and Fisheries Council on 11-12 October 2021. The meeting addressed Baltic Sea fishing opportunities and held an exchange of views on the approach to fishing opportunities for stocks shared with the United Kingdom for 2022. Member States reiterated the importance of presenting a united front in these negotiations.
2. Following the Commission's proposals, the Council of the European Union adopted the regulation on fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2022. The regulation sets fishing opportunities for several stocks with substantial reductions, such as an 88% reduction in TAC and a ban on recreational fisheries for western Baltic cod. It also agreed on additional recovery measures, with bans on catching of salmon and western herring (except for unavoidable by-catches) as well as extended spawning season closures.
3. At a meeting in London, the delegations of the European Union, the Faroe Islands,
Greenland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom reached
an agreement on the management measures for mackerel, blue whiting and AtlantoScandian herring in the North East Atlantic for 2022. For mackerel, the coastal States agreed to set the TAC for 2022 at 794,920 tonnes. This TAC is in line with ICES advice, following the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) approach, and is 7% lower than the TAC agreed for 2021.
4. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Italian vessels fishing for giant red shrimp in the GFCM region, and by Portuguese vessels fishing for bigeye tuna in the Atlantic Ocean.
5. The Council amended the allocation of fishing opportunities under the Sustainable
Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Morocco, to reallocate the UK's fishing opportunities proportionally to other EU states on account for Brexit.
6. The High Representative of the EU and the Commission set out EU policy proposals for the Arctic. The EU will establish a European Commission office in Greenland, which will raise the profile of Arctic matters in the EU's external relations, and EU subsidies will be provided to help drive the green transition in the Arctic, for the benefit of Arctic populations.
7. The Commission adopted a regulation setting out the provisional amounts (EUR5.4 billion) allocated to Members State from the resources of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve to compensate for the loss of access to UK markets and fishery resources. Although most of the money is for compensation for loss of access to markets, EUR656 is allocated to the fishery sector and EUR273 to coastal communities.
8. The European Union set out its approach to the EU-UK Specialised Committee on Fisheries for the period 2021-2026. The EU will aim to implement an ecosystem-based approach, adopt management and conservation measures based on best available scientific advice, support the development of scientific knowledge and advice, gradually eliminate discards and promote fishing methods that contribute to more selective fishing and the avoidance and reduction, as far as possible, of unwanted catches.
9. The EU also set out its position on the annual consultations with the United Kingdom to agree on total allowable catches. These will be carried by the Commission in accordance with the objectives and principles set out external fishing policy of the EU. The approach should actively support and contribute to the development of scientific knowledge and advice. The EU will seek to ensure that TACs are jointly determined in accordance with the common fisheries policy (CFP) objective of ensuring that fisheries are environmentally sustainable in the long term and are managed in a way that is consistent with the objectives of achieving economic, social and employment benefits, including the core conservation objective of the CFP. It will also seek to ensure non-discriminatory rules for the Union fleet based on the same principles and standards as those applicable under Union law.
10. The Commission announced that a website for Regional Coordination Groups for fisheries data collection is now online and offers details of meetings, reports and decisions of regional groups engaged in generating data for the EU Data Collection Framework. The website is funded with support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The site will facilitate groups to develop and implement the methodology, quality assurance and quality control procedures for collecting and processing the data used to produce scientific and management advice.
11. The Commission granted an extension of the derogation which allows the use of traditional shore seine for sand smelt (Atherina boyeri) and picarels (Spicara smaris) within Croatian territorial waters.
12. The European Parliament announced the publication of six research studies undertaken for the for PECH Committee, on various aspects of the application of electronic and communication technologies for fisheries management, including adaptions for small-scale vessels
13. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2021, containing articles on pollack (Denmark, France, Spain) and sandeels (Poland, Sweden). It also contained articles on Alaska pollock in Germany, and fisheries and aquaculture in Morocco.
14. The Commission issued a press release on the NOVELFISH project, implemented by the University of Cadiz, which aims to find profitable uses for unwanted catches arising as a result of the EU-wide discard ban. Two species of low commercial value from the Atlantic and 22 promising species in the Mediterranean were identified as possible candidates for pilot production of fish emulsions, pates and sauces.
15. EUMOFA published a study on the price structure in the supply chain of portion sized trout in the EU. Apparent consumption of trout at EU 27 level was 208.657 tonnes in 2019 and two thirds of EU production is <500g. Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland and Finland are the main EU markets.
16. The Director-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission attended the eighth Atlantic Stakeholder Platform Conference to promote the renewed focus on the blue economy within the EU's Atlantic maritime strategy.
17. On 20-21 October, the European Commission hosted 75 university students from across the EU to co-create innovative solutions to the major challenges facing the ocean and the marine environment. Participants to the "HACK4OCEANS" event developed ideas around marine litter, alternative food from the ocean, climate change and protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems. The initiative was part of the European Commission's Ocean Literacy agenda.
18. The Commission published Guidelines in the form of a working document on the closure of operational programmes adopted for assistance from the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund, the Cohesion Fund and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (2014-2020).
19. The Council adopted a decision to support the establishment of the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Seamount Marine Protected Area ('NACES MPA') under the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic. The proposal will limit fishing in the area.
20. The EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. Virginijus Sinkevicius will attend Ocean Day at COP26 on 9 November. The event follows up on the commitment to the Dialogue on Ocean and Climate Change, taken at the Blue COP (COP25).
21. The European Commission launched a consultation to ask for stakeholders' views on the Action Plan to conserve fisheries resources and protect marine ecosystems, announced in the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and planned for adoption in the spring 2022. The aim is to exploit synergies between fisheries and environmental policies and to directly contribute to the European Green Deal, by making fisheries more sustainable and protecting marine ecosystems and their biodiversity. Interested parties can submit views at EUSurvey - Survey .
22. The European Commission and UNESCO launched their jointly developed the Global International Guide on Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning to help planners shape maritime spaces in a way that contributes to the sustainable governance of seas and oceans.
23. The Commission announced that European Maritime Day (EMD) 2022 will be held as a physical event, in Ravenna, Italy on May 19 and 20, 2022. The Commission called on interested stakeholders to apply for the organisation of a workshop.
24. The Commission issued a press release highlighting the research work undertaken on aquaponics by the Jyvaskyla University of Applied Sciences, which has developed a system for the combined production of rainbow trout and plants such as mint and spinach. The work is financed by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) and contributes to the EU's strategy for a sustainable food system, Farm2Fork.
25. During October 2021 there were 57 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 6 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 4 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 38 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 11 consignments of thawed yellowfin tuna loins from Spain, 2 consignments of mussels from Spain, 2 consignments of frozen shrimps from Tunisia, and 2 consignments of hake from South Africa.
26. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, Section General Food Law discussed Romania's plans to require fish sellers to display the time since capture, as an indicator of the freshness of fish. Romania has ignored advice by the Commission not to adopt the measure as it is not in line with EU legislation regarding the voluntary nature of such information. The Commission referred the matter to a vote by Member States.
27. The Commission published the 2020 annual report of the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network. Overall, 349 incidences were notified, of which 34 concerned fish and fishery products, and 10 concerned cephalopods and crustacea. Together, seafood products accounted for the second most reported category after fats and oils (51 notifications). The majority of issues concerning fishery products relates to mislabelling and suspicions of illegal treatments i.e. with nitrates and carbon monoxide or addition of undeclared water.
28. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, Section Novel Food discussed feedback from Working Groups on changes as regards to the Maximum Levels (MLs) for dioxins and PCBs permitted in food, following stakeholder consultation. A comprehensive review of the EU legislation on dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in food is foreseen.
29. The latest edition of the EU Food Fraud Newsletter reported several incidences of fraud involving fishery products. A study by the University of Oviedo, Spain analysed 401 samples of frozen fish from Africa (tuna, hake, anchovy and blue whiting) and found an average mislabelling/substitution rate of 1.9%. The Spanish authorities seized 16 tons of molluscs transported with falsified capture and transport documents. The seafood products were also sold without proper sanitary measures, thus probably not being fit for human consumption. In Greece researchers reported mislabelling rates of 13.5% for 114 ray products collected from fishmongers, open markets, supermarkets, and restaurants. 3.5% of the samples belonged to protected species.
30. The Commission's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed Section Animal Nutrition discussed the use of iron oxide (E172) as a colouring material for ground-bait used in fishing. The Commission reminded Member States that the practice is not permitted in EU law. However, the use of this additive in ornamental fish feed is permitted without any restriction.
31. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, Section Biological Safety of the Food Chain discussed a revision of the EURL technical guidance document on challenge tests and durability studies for assessing shelf-life of ready to-eat foods related to Listeria monocytogenes. The amendment will ensure consistency with Standard EN ISO 20976-1 on "Requirements and guidelines for conducting challenge tests of food and feed products".
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