FishFilesLite Newsletter
December 2021

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Common Fisheries Policy


1. EU Fisheries Ministers finalise 2022 TACS for the Atlantic and North Sea
2. EU Fisheries Ministers agree 2022 TACs for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas
3. EU and the UK agree 2022 fishing opportunities for 65 shared stocks
4. EU, Norway and UK agree TACs for cod, haddock, herring and others
5. Commission cuts 2021 fish quotas due to overfishing by some Member States
6. Commission studies impacts of choke species in meeting landing obligations
7. Commission consolidates technical measures for North-Western Waters
8. Stop fishing notice published for herring in Norwegian waters
9. EU publishes EU-Mauritania SFPA and Protocol
10. EU publishes EU-Cook Islands Protocol to the SFPA
11. Commission updates list of EU ports for third country landings and transhipment
12. EUMOFA publishes latest edition of 2020; articles on tuna and sole
13. Commission launches stakeholder consultation on CFP and market organisation
14. Commission and UK move to resolve Channel fishing licence dispute
15. EU Parliament workshop examines legal aspects of Brexit and fisheries
16. Commission adopts new tariff quotas for mackerels granted to Thailand
17. DG MARE hosts conference on sustainable blue economy
18. EUMOFA publishes video on new aquaculture technologies in the EU
19. UN General Assembly adopts resolutions on ocean law and sustainable fisheries
20. DG MARE calls for proposals on "Restore our Ocean and Waters"

Fish Hygiene


21. December 2021; 33 rapid alert notifications for fishery products
22. DG SANTÉ reports on Croatia; weak supervision of inspection bodies
23. DG SANTÉ reports on Egypt; no controls on primary production
24. EU Food Fraud Newsletter; UK Guidance document on how to trace fishery products
25. EFSA re-evaluates risks of bisphenol A (BPA) in food contact materials
26. EFSA launches consultations on risk assessment of phthalates plasticisers

Common Fisheries Policy


1. At the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, on 12-13 December 2021, EU Fisheries Ministers met to finalise 2022 TACS and quotas exclusively managed by the EU for the Atlantic and North Sea and for stocks shared with Norway bilaterally and with Norway and the United Kingdom trilaterally, following an agreement reached in mid-December. The Council followed the Commission's recommendations and set 10 TACs in line with MSY advice. For cod in Kattegat, the Council has agreed on a package of measures with a limit of 97 tonnes for unavoidable catches taken in other fisheries. In the Bay of Biscay, the Council has agreed to the reopening of the Norway lobster fishery and to a cut of -36% for sole. In the Iberian waters, the megrim TAC will be raised by 13%, the anglerfish TAC by 5% and the horse mackerel TAC by 12%. On the stocks shared between the EU, Norway and the United Kingdom, 15 out of 18 TACs have been set in line with MSY.

2. EU Fisheries Ministers agreed fishing opportunities for 2022 for the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, based on the EU's multiannual management plan for demersal stocks in the Western Mediterranean, adopted in June 2019. Trawling fishing effort is to be reduced by 6 % and catch limits are set for deep water shrimps. An effort ceiling for long-liners will also be introduced. The regulation also introduces new measures for the management of the small pelagic species and demersal stocks in the Adriatic, adopted by the GFCM in 2021. For small pelagics, there is a TAC reduction of catches of 5% for anchovy and 8% for sardines for 2022. For the Adriatic demersal stocks, the regulation sets the new effort levels with a further reduction of 7% for demersal trawlers and 3% reduction for beam trawlers.

3. After a month of talks, the EU and the UK reached an agreement on the fishing opportunities for 2022. This agreement covers all shared and jointly managed fisheries resources in UK and EU waters and is the outcome of the annual consultations on fishing opportunities between the EU and the UK under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which took place between 11 November and 20 December. The agreement on the management of shared stocks secures the fishing rights of the EU and the UK fleets in both EU and UK waters until the end of 2022, as foreseen under the TCA. It establishes the total allowable catches (TAC) for 65 shared fish stocks for 2022 and provides for mutual access to fish own quota.

4. Following one month of negotiations the EU, Norway and the United Kingdom, signed an agreement allowing for the joint management for 2022 of cod, haddock, saithe, whiting, plaice and herring stocks with total allowable catches (TAC) and quota sharing covering over 683,000 tonnes of fish. The agreement on TACs includes a rollover for cod, following the MSY advice for saithe and plaice, and the decision by the three Parties not to use the full advice for haddock and whiting in order to protect cod in mixed fisheries. As a result, the increase for haddock will be +5%, while for whiting it will be +25%, despite a much higher scientific advice for both stocks. The same applies to herring where, despite an advice for +46%, the Parties decided a +20% TAC increase. In parallel, the EU and Norway have concluded bilateral consultations for shared stocks in the North Sea, Skagerrak and quota exchanges.

5. The Commission cut 2021 allocated fish quotas for some Member States due to over-fishing in previous years. Quota cuts are applied to Denmark (overfishing of herring, saithe and mackerel), and Portugal (overfishing of tunas and hake) as well as several other countries.

6. The Commission published a summary of the main findings of the ProByFish Project which aims to identify measures to protect by-catch species in mixed fisheries management plans. The study found that strict enforcement of the landing obligation safeguards stocks but gives rise to 'choke species' (for which the catch opportunity restricts the catches of one or more other species caught together in a mixed fishery). The 'choke species' issue leads to prolonged closures of most demersal fisheries with subsequent socio-economic impacts.

7. The Commission has consolidated some of the technical measures for certain demersal and pelagic fisheries in the Celtic Sea, the Irish Sea and the West of Scotland. The new regulation codifies existing provisions on technical measures that were in the past adopted as part of the discard plans for the North-Western Waters, with derogations to the landing obligations in certain fisheries.

8. Stop fishing notice has been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by vessels flying the flag of a Member State of the European Union fishing for herring in Norwegian waters north of 62° N and the fishery zone around Jan Mayen.

9. The EU published the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol Between the EU and Mauritania. Fishing opportunities are defined for a wide range of EU vessels, including crustacean trawlers (non-freezer) and bottom longliners fishing for black hake, tuna seiners, pole-and-line tuna vessels and surface longliners, pelagic freezer trawlers, non-freezer pelagic vessels and cephalopod vessels. The annual financial contribution for access under the Fisheries Agreement paid by the EU will be EUR 57.5 million per year. The Protocol shall enter into force on the date on which the Parties notify each other of ratification.

10. The EU published the Protocol to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Cook Islands. For three years this allocates fishing opportunities for four tuna vessels for at least 100 fishing days/year in the Cook Islands' fishing areas, in return for a total financial contribution of EUR2.1 million. The Council has approved its signature and authorise signing the President of the Council. The EU subsequently allocated the fishing opportunities to Spain (three tuna vessels) and France (one vessel).

11. The Commission updated the list of EU ports at which landings and transhipment operations of fishery products by third country fishing vessels are allowed and where they can access port services.

12. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2020, containing articles on EU sales of skipjack tuna and yellowfin tuna (Portugal and Spain) and consumption of sole in Spain.

13. The European Commission launched two targeted consultations asking stakeholders to contribute to two upcoming reports: the report on the functioning of the common fisheries policy (CFP) and the report on the common market organisation (CMO) considering provisions on professional organisations, compulsory marketing standards, information to consumers, the implementation of competition rules, and the collection of common market intelligence. Interested parties can submit their views via EUSurvey - Survey (europa.eu). The Commission will deliver the reports by the end of 2022.

14. The Commission issued a statement on the fishing licence dispute with UK, indicating that the UK has issued 18 licences for EU replacement vessels in the UK territorial waters and 5 licences for EU vessels to access Jersey waters. The Channel Island of Guernsey granted permanent fishing licences to 40 vessels and declared 3 others as meeting the qualification criteria, so these French vessels have now the certainty of being able to continue their fishing activities in these waters beyond 31 January 2022, when the current temporary licences expire. The announcement comes after intensified talks and regular contacts at all levels between the Commission and the UK, as well as between the Commission and France. This brings the total number of permanent licences delivered for access to the UK territorial waters and the waters around Jersey and Guernsey to 281. Further technical consultations may lead to additional licences. The European Commission stated that it intends to continue to work with France, in order to ensure full implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and will examine the legal circumstances around every requested license which has not been granted.

15. The PECH Committee of the European Parliament held a workshop on legal aspects of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on fisheries and aquaculture in the EU, presenting the results of a recent study. The analysis covers, the scope of the fisheries provisions, conservation and management, fishing opportunities, arrangements on access to waters, arrangements on governance, and trade related provisions with relevance for fisheries. The Parties are entitled to use their fishing opportunities in the waters of the other Party. During the adjustment period, each Party has full access to the EEZ of the other Party as well as partial access to the 6-12 nautical miles (NM) belt of the territorial sea for certain listed stocks. After June 2026, annual consultations will determine the level and conditions of access.

16. The Commission has adopted a measure amending the tariff quotas granted to Thailand to account for the reduction in size of the EU due to Brexit. The measure permits 1054 tonnes/year of non-orginating prepared or preserved sardines, bonito and mackerel of the species Scomber scombrus and Scomber japonicus, to be imported into the EU free of tariffs.

17. Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries hosted a conference held in Ferrara, Italy of stakeholders on Sealogy: preparing the future of the sustainable blue economy. The Conference debated the European Green Deal and the new approach for a sustainable Blue Economy, the socio-economic value of blue ecosystems and 'Blue' knowledge, skills and innovation for a sustainable blue economy. The meeting concluded that sustainable blue economy is a huge opportunity, especially for island regions, who can function as living labs for programmes on education, training, ocean literacy and the transition to sustainable practices.

18. EUMOFA published a video presentation on "Impact of new aquaculture technologies: growth potential in the EU" with speakers from the European Commission DG MARE, the Marine Institute (Ireland) and AKVA group (Denmark). Available at: https://www.eumofa.eu/video-recording-of-online-eumofa-talk-on-new-aquaculture-technologies-is-available-online

19. On 9 December, the UN General Assembly debated and adopted two resolutions on the future of "Oceans and Law of the Sea" and on "Sustainable Fisheries". The decisions aim to strengthen ocean governance and meet the need to employ the best available science when implementing recovery strategies. The 2022 UN Oceans Conference as well as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will help to contribute towards sustainable exploitation.

20. The European Commission, Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced the launch of a new work programme "Restore our Ocean and Waters". The indicative budget is EUR114 million, with the first call for proposals planned to be launched in December 2021. The programme puts a special focus on the concept of small projects to demonstrate transformative and innovative solutions in the EU's sea/river basins (Atlantic and Arctic, Baltic and North Sea, Mediterranean and Danube River basin).

Fish Hygiene


21. During December 2021 there were 33 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 4 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 17 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of mussels and 2 consignments of clams from Italy, 2 consignments of mussels from Italy raw material from Spain, 2 consignments of tuna from France, 2 consignments of swordfish from Spain and 2 consignments of herring fillets from Poland.

22. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on an audit in April 2021 of the Croatian food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products, based on a review of documentation and control records. The mission found that progress has been made since the last audit in 2014, on strengthening official controls on fishing vessels and landing sites. However the mission also found weak supervision and coordination between the Competent Authority and the delegated inspection work of the Directorate of Fisheries and accredited private sector bodies. Non-operating establishments retained their approvals, and derogations for small scale operators were not effectively checked. The Competent authority, the Veterinary and Food Safety Directorate (VFSD) of the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), was requested to submit to undertake a plan of corrective actions approved by the Commission.

23. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on an audit in April 2021 of the Egyptian food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products, based on a review of documentation and control records. The mission found that the procedure for the approval of establishments does not cover all European Union requirements. There are no written procedures or instructions to support and implement the official controls, nor has adequate training been provided to control staff in respect of fishery products. There was an absence of controls on primary production, landing sites, standards for fishery products and the use of additives. The audit also found instances where important deficiencies in establishments were not identified or, where identified, were not followed up by adequate corrective measures while at the same time, approval of the non-compliant establishments was maintained. A system was not in place to ensure traceability of fishery products to prove eligibility of origin (or otherwise) for the European Union market (since aquaculture products are not authorised for export). In conclusion, the Egyptian Competent Authority the General Organisation of Veterinary Services is not in a position to provide reliable guarantees in respect of the health attestations contained in its official certificates. The Egyptian CA undertook to implement a plan of corrective actions.

24. In November, according to the EU Food Fraud Newsletter, Italian authorities collectively seized almost 17.5 tons of seafood without traceability documentation, and sometimes without hygiene requirements. UK Government updated the Guidance document on how to trace, weigh and distribute fish products. How to trace, weigh and distribute fish products - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

25. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (via its Panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes and Processing Aids) re-evaluated the risks of bisphenol A (BPA) in food and proposes to considerably lower the tolerable daily intake (TDI) compared to its previous assessment in 2015. EFSA's conclusions on BPA are explained in a draft scientific opinion that is open for public consultation until 8 February 2022. All interested parties are encouraged to contribute to the consultation. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in certain plastics and epoxy resins in food contact materials (packaging, plastic films and cans), which can migrate into foods and is suspected of having adverse effects of BPA on the human immune system.

26. EFSA also launched consultations on its draft opinion on the identification and prioritisation for risk assessment of phthalates and other plasticisers used in food contact materials and on its draft protocol for the exposure assessment of those substances that are prioritised. The consultations will run for 6 weeks, and all interested parties are encouraged to contribute.

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