1. The EU Council approved the regulation setting the 2022 TACs, quotas and technical measures for fish stocks in EU waters and EU fishing in non-Union waters, including waters under RFMO jurisdiction, as well as for the EU waters of the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The TAC and quotas were finalised at the meeting of EU Fisheries Ministers in December 2021.
2. The European Commission has invited all interested parties to comment on proposed revised State aid rules, which provide subsidies for the EU agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors. The purpose of the proposed revision is to align the current rules with the current EU strategic priorities, including the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), as well as to the European Green Deal. Member States and other interested parties can respond to the consultation until 13 March 2022. The Commission is currently performing an evaluation of the rules applicable to the fishery sector, with the results accounted for in the new proposals.
3. The Commission adopted an implementing regulation setting the criteria for establishing the level of financial corrections and applying flat-rates in cases of serious non-compliance with Common Fisheries Policy rules. The regulation allows the application of corrections to subsidies paid to guilty operators who have benefitted from the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF), where funding is conditional on Member States' compliance with CFP rules. Non-compliance could result in the interruption or suspension of payments, or the application of financial corrections to Union financial assistance under the CFP. Flat-rates of financial correction up to 100% may be applied by the Commission. The selected rate should account for the significance of the potential harm to marine biological resources, the frequency and duration of non-compliance and the remedial actions taken by the Member State in question.
4. The Commission adopted a regulation amending the rules of the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund to ensure that support for the replacement or modernisation of a main or ancillary engine of a fishing vessel up to 24 metres in overall length, was conditional on the new engine emitting 20% less CO2 or using 20 % less fuel than the engine being replaced. To benchmark engine efficiency, the regulation defines the normal fishing effort of fishing vessels which should account for the characteristics and fishing pattern of the fishing vessel over 10 trips within a 3-year period.
5. The PECH Committee of the European Parliament held a workshop on trade 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 uses a modelling approach to quantify the impact of the TCA on fish trade and related sectors. The results show negative impacts on trade, production and consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products for both parties. For the EU, the biggest losses are found in the fish processing sector. The overall impact is driven by increased trade costs whereas the impact of a reduced total allowable catches is rather limited.
6. The Commission published an information note on the legal impacts of Brexit on fisheries and aquaculture in the EU, based on a study published at the end of 2021. The note sets out the content of the new legal framework between the EU and UK, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), which was concluded on 30 December 2020 and entered into force on 1 May 2021. The fisheries-related provisions of the TCA constitute a bilateral fisheries agreement regarded as unprecedented in international fisheries law, considering the nature and extent of its contents.
7. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by French vessels fishing for herring and Northern albacore in the Atlantic Ocean, by Spanish vessels fishing for anchovy, and Lithuanian vessels fishing for herring in Union and Norwegian waters.
8. The Commission set out the timetable and format of data to be supplied by Member States to the Commission under the multiannual Union programme for the collection, management and use of data in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors ('EU MAP'). In order to allow for timely disclosure of the outcomes of national data collection work plans and timely provision of data to end users, the deadline for the submission of the annual reports should be set as 31 May of the following year.
9. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2020, containing articles on first sales of Chub mackerel (Italy, Portugal, Spain) and European sprat (Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia), consumption of Saithe in Germany, France, and Ireland and Case Studies on Fisheries and aquaculture in the Philippines.
10. During January 2021 there were 14 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 2 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 3 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 7 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products.
11. DG SANTÉ published a report of an audit conducted in June 2021 in Spain, to evaluate the food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of live bivalve molluscs, to ensure that EU regulations are being applied effectively. The audit found that the control system generally met the requirements of the relevant EU legislation and was correctly implemented. However, several shortcomings were identified. The laboratory test results for biotoxins are often issued with unjustifiable delays, which could be of major significance if episodes of biotoxins above legal limits occur. Designation of laboratories carrying out official controls does not include sufficient details concerning coordination between these laboratories and the competent authorities. This reduces the assurances of reliability of laboratory performance. Importantly, Spain does not have a National Reference Laboratory either for E. coli or for biotoxins testing of live bivalve molluscs sampled at primary production. The Commission considers that this is an important shortcoming in a control system for which laboratory performance has high impact The Competent Authority, the Ministerio de Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación, was required to prepare a plan of corrective actions.
12. DG SANTÉ published a report of a remote audit conducted in September 2021 in Slovakia, to evaluate the food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products, to ensure that EU regulations are being applied effectively. The audit found that the system of official controls meets the requirements of the relevant EU legislation. The official control system covers the entire production chain of fishery products. Overall, the organisation and operation by the Competent Authority of the official control system was considered adequate. It was supported by training, procedures and associated control instructions, and enabled efficient and effective enforcement of the relevant EU requirements. The only gap identified was that internal audits had not covered the fishery products sector in recent years due to the high levels of compliance and to priority being given to other control areas.
13. The Commission released the December edition of the EU Fraud Newsletter. Italian authorities seized 5 tons of seafood products (total value of EUR300 000) either without traceability documentation or expired. The Mozambican authorities seized 6 tons of dried fish and shrimp illegally caught after the closing of the fishing season. INTERPOL released a summary of the global Operation IKATERE (June-October 2021) covering fisheries crime, human trafficking and the smuggling of drugs and explosives.
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