1. The EU announced the conclusion of the fourth Intergovernmental Conference on a Treaty of the High Seas (the UNCLOS implementing agreement on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction) on March 18. The parties agreed on the outline of a possible future treaty which will aim to provide protection to biodiversity in currently unregulated international waters.
2. The Commission issued a press release following the REDMAR II project which sought to pilot greater integration for women onboard vessels in the Spanish maritime and fisheries sectors. The project helped to strengthen awareness, created links between stakeholders and established best practices to be applied to the sector through workshops, active promotion of women employment on board and network building activities. The study noted that with an aging profile of fishers, recruiting young women would help to resolve the ongoing issue of generational replacement.
3. The Commission adopted a decision that due to the significant disruption of markets caused by the military aggression of Russia against Ukraine, the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) may support compensation for certain loss of income or additional costs sustained by fishery and aquaculture sector operators and recognised producer organisations and associations.
4. The Commission issued a press release reminding stakeholders that there is still time to provide comments on the operation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the Common Market Organisation (CMO), for inclusion in the 2022 review of the EU fisheries policy framework, currently under preparation by the Commission.
5. The Regional Environmental Management Plan (REMP) Project for the North Atlantic, announced its conclusion. The project assessed plans to exploit the polymetallic sulphide deposits of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. The project reviewed relevant scientific information and identified potential management measures including spatial and non-spatial measures, that could be included in the Management Plan. The report will be considered by the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in its decision to define contract areas for potential exploitation of seabed mineral resources in this region.
6. The European Commission released a communication on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive, which requires Member States to seek good environmental status of their marine waters. With the objective of improved implementation of the Directive it provides a staff working document which sets out improved definition of descriptors, monitoring methods and reporting. Member States are urged to engage in further collaboration at a technical level in the context of the MSFD Common Implementation Strategy, such as in the MSFD Technical Groups and Joint Research Centre's Expert Networks.
7. The European Union (EU) officially became member of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC) on 23 March 2022. The NPFC is a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (RFMO) established in 2015 to ensure the long-term conservation of the stocks and protection of the marine ecosystems of the North Pacific Ocean. The main target species currently regulated by the NPFC are Pacific saury, chub mackerel, sablefish, Japanese sardine, neon flying squid, Japanese flying squid, as well as some deep sea species. EU vessels operate in the convention area. The Council provided the European Commission with a mandate to negotiate the position to be taken on behalf of the European Union within the meetings of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission. The Commission is required to inter alia adhere to the objectives and principles pursued by the Union within the common fisheries policy, ensure that measures adopted within the NPFC are consistent with international law, and aim to create a level playing field for the Union fleet.
8. The Commission has published a new list of ports in EU Member States where landings and transhipment operations of fishery products are allowed, and port services are accessible for third country fishing vessels. The list accounts for the changes related to the withdrawal of UK from the EU.
9. The Commission published the report of the 2021 meeting of the Joint Scientific Committee to the EU-Morocco Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which assessed the activity of vessels and catches under each category of opportunities defined the Agreement and considered these in the context of the latest scientific studies on the sustainability of Moroccan fishery resources.
10. The Commission extended the derogation granted to a limited number of small trawlers targeting inshore demersal resources in Slovenian territorial waters.
11. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2020, containing articles on Atlantic scallop (Belgium, France the Netherlands), and Japanese Carpet shell (Italy, Portugal, Spain). It also has a review of the consumption of tunas in Spain and case studies on Fisheries and Aquaculture in Tunisia and on swordfish.
12. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published a study on the price structure in the supply chain of fresh chilled seabass in the EU. The ex-farm/import price was EUR4.30/kg in 2020.
13. The Commission organised the BlueInvest Days 2022 in Brussels, at which the Commission and European Investment Fund agreed to mobilise EUR500 million with new equity investment fund for the blue economy from 2022 until 2026. European Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius said: "the second stage of BlueInvest….. will provide an even better service to European SMEs and investors, and more impact to support the European Green Deal objectives".
14. The Commission issues a press release concerning the implementation of the project KELP-EU. Supported by EUR2.1 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF), the project taps into the potential of Europe's budding seaweed industry. Between October 2021 and March 2023, the project is working with seaweed farmers, researchers and government stakeholders from across the EU on the development of seaweed farming and processing.
15. In 2015 the Commission imposed definitive countervailing duties (ranging from 1,5 % to 9,5 %) on imports of certain rainbow trout originating in the Republic of Turkey. In 2018 a review was requested by one exporting producer. In November 2021 the applicant withdrew its request, and the Commission has issued a decision that it now considers the process terminated without the need for a formal decision concerning the applicant's use of Turkish Government subsidies.
16. The EU has adopted the decision which establishes the EU-UK Working Group on Fisheries as foreseen under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the parties (addressing the departure from the Union of the UK).
17. The EU Commission has published a paper presented at the One Ocean Summit, Brest, 9-11 February 2022 setting out the different ways in which the EU protects ocean health, such as supporting Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, ensuring compliance with international obligations against IUU fishing, fighting marine pollution and working towards improved ocean governance.
18. During March 2021 there were 42 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 4 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 5 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 24 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 6 consignments of oysters from France, 2 consignments of lobster from Mozambique, 2 consignments of tuna and 2 consignments of smoked salmon from Spain, and 2 consignments of Scorpion fish from Morocco.
19. The Commission has issued a Regulation updating the lists of third countries which may export fishery and aquaculture products to the EU. The changes include addition the sub-category 'caviar (product of finfish)' in the category 'aquaculture products' for previously listed Canada, China and the United States, Belarus, Israel, Moldova, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and Uruguay. Oman was removed from the list of eligible countries for aquaculture products but also, inadvertently, for wild caught fish, so the entry to Annex IX was corrected to "only wild catch".
20. The Commission adopted an Implementing Regulation on maintaining protective measures on imports of bivalve molluscs from Turkey intended for human consumption. This prohibits the entry of live and chilled bivalve molluscs originating in or dispatched from Turkey. Measures concerning frozen and processed bivalve molluscs include testing: (a) the contamination level of Escherichia coli in all consignments of frozen bivalve molluscs; (b) the presence of marine biotoxins in all consignments of frozen or processed bivalve molluscs
21. Due to differences in regulatory standards, trade in live molluscan shellfish had not been possible between the EU and the US since 2011. The Commission and the FDA have finalised the limited recognition of the equivalence of each other's production systems to allow bilateral trade of these products, which thus provides mutual access to markets. From March, trade in molluscan shellfish will resume between the EU and the US with Spain, and the Netherlands being allowed to export molluscan shellfish to the US, whilst Massachusetts and Washington can do the same to the EU. Other EU Member States may now also be allowed to export these products to the US following a simplified authorisation procedure agreed between EU and US.
22. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed Section Novel Food and Toxicological Safety of the Food Chain informed Member States that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently performing a review of the WHO2005-TEF values for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs for foodstuffs, which is foreseen to be completed in 2023. A comprehensive review of the maximum levels in feed and food is foreseen once WHO has finalised its review.
23. The latest edition of the EU food fraud newsletter reported that in Italy the Financial Guard seized 5.5 tons of expired seafood (total value of EUR 100,000) kept without respecting the hygiene conditions and lacking the required traceability documentation. The Coast Guard also seized 7 tonnes of fish (salmon, blue shark and cod) with falsified expiry labels. In Sicily, the Operation "Sirio" seized 10 tons of fish (including red tuna) with no traceability documentation. In Mozambique the Fisheries Inspection Authority seized 4 tons of fish (total value of almost 14 000 Euros) illegally caught during the closed fishing season. The consignment documents were falsified, stating wrong fishing areas. In Thailand a study using DNA barcoding reported a mislabelling rate of 33% (18/ 54 samples) on fish fillet products from supermarkets. Atlantic salmon-labelled products were most frequently mislabelled. In
Kenya the authorities seized 5.5 tons of fish (total value of around 275 000 Euros), in transit to China without the proper export permit from the fisheries department mislabelled. In China a scientific paper highlighted challenges and threats with the practice of re-exporting seafood product; nearly 75% of imported fish never reaches the Chinese market.
24. EFSA issued a press release announcing that its experts are assessing the safety and efficacy of High-pressure processing (HPP) of food and whether it can be used to control Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods and as an alternative to thermal pasteurisation of raw milk. The non-thermal food preservation technique kills microorganisms that can cause diseases or spoil food by using intense pressure for a certain time having minimal effects on taste, texture, appearance, or nutritional values. HPP is not specifically regulated at EU level and EFSA's advice will inform the possible decisions of risk managers in this field.
25. The Commission opened online registration for the ONE - Health, Environment, Society - Conference 2022 to be held in in Brussels and online on 21-24 June. This four-day event is co-organised by EFSA, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Environment Agency (EEA), the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC).
26. The Commission and MS will discuss authorisation of the use of ascorbic acid and its salts (E 300-302) in tuna at the next meeting.
27. The Commission and MS discussed and approved changes to the sampling requirements for fish and terrestrial animals set out in Regulation (EC) No 333/2007.
28. The Commission adopted a decision to transfer the holder of the authorisation for the smoke flavouring primary product 'Scansmoke PB 1110' to proFagus GmbH.
29. A report released by ECDC and EFSA revealed the increasing trends of resistance against the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics that has been observed in humans and animals for both Salmonella enteretidis and Campylobacter bacteria. Campylobacteriosis was the most reported zoonosis in the EU in 2020 and the most frequently reported cause of foodborne illness.
30. The Commission called on Member States to submit their updated compartments for areas free of aquaculture diseases.
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