1. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) held its annual session from 16 to 20 May 2022. Six IOTC members (India, Indonesia, Iran, Madagascar, Oman, and Somalia) objected to a rebuilding plan for the yellowfin tuna stock in the Indian Ocean. A special IOTC session is now planned for 2023 to discuss solutions to the crisis. The IOTC also failed to adopt a new management measure to reduce the number of drifting fish aggregating devices (FADs) and the adoption of catch reduction for skipjack tuna. The EU Commission stated that it regrets that the IOTC could not agree on any of these items and considers this a missed opportunity for the sustainable management of the Indian Ocean fisheries.
2. Members of the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for greater transparency in the process of fishing quota allocations. Only two EU countries, Denmark and Estonia, have public quota register. Historic catch levels are currently the most common criteria applied by EU countries to distribute fishing opportunities, yet quota allocation should account for sustainability of fishing method. The resolution calls on the Commission to produce a report on how each EU country distributes fishing opportunities and propose measures to ensure that all Member States use appropriate combination of environmental, social and economic criteria to allocate their fishing rights in line with CFP objectives.
3. Following changes to the rules of the International Convention for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries (NAFO), the EU has adapted relevant regulations in relation to prohibiting the retention on board, transhipping and landing, of the North Atlantic shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus).
4. MEPs on the EU's Fisheries Committee gave a green light to a new 6-year EU - Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The agreement provides access by the European fleet to Mauritanian waters for the fishing of crustaceans, demersal fish, tuna and small pelagics, for a total of approximately 290,000 tonnes per year. In return and in addition to the fees paid by European fishermen, the EU will provide EUR 57.5 million annual support to Mauritania and another EUR 3.3 million each year in support of local fishing communities.
5. A stop fishing notice has been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Portuguese vessels fishing for Bluefin tuna in specific archipelagos.
6. The Commission has corrected an error to the exemptions to the plaice box, a technical management measure to protect marine resources. The specific exemption for Danish seine is further specified as applying only to those Danish seines that do the hauling of the fishing gear while the vessel is at anchor (Danish anchor seine gear code SDN).
7. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) announced the 2022 European control campaign for bluefin tuna in the framework of its Joint Deployment Plan (JDP). Member States will pool their control and inspection means to jointly implement a control campaign is to ensure compliance with the international and EU rules adopted for the conservation of the bluefin tuna. EFCA has trained national inspectors in the eight Member States involved in the fishery - Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain. Inspection and surveillance at sea will be carried both in EU waters and international waters and applies to EU and non-EU vessels.
8. The Commission adopted a renewed strategy for the most remote parts of the EU ("the Outermost Regions" aimed at accelerating economic development through appropriate investment and reforms. The regions - Guadeloupe, French Guiana, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion and Saint-Martin (France), the Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and the Canary Islands (Spain) have five million EU inhabitants and the strategy will support the green and digital transitions. A new call for proposals on blue economy strategies in the outermost region will be launched; fisheries data collection will be improved, and better synergies sought with adjacent fisheries partnership agreements established by the EU.
9. EUMOFA also reported on "Organic aquaculture in the EU". The total organic aquaculture production at EU 27 level is estimated at 74.032 tonnes in 2020, accounting for 6,4% of the total EU aquaculture production. The production has increased by 60% compared to 2015 (46.341 tonnes at EU 27 level in 20151), mainly due to a growth in organic mussel production. The main species produced are mussels (41.936 tonnes), accounting for more than half of the total organic aquaculture production, followed by salmon (12.870 tonnes), trout (4.590 tonnes), carp (3.562 tonnes), oyster (3.228 tonnes) and European seabass/gilthead seabream (2.750 tonnes). The main barrier to market growth for the organic shellfish segment is the somewhat limited market incentives for producers in terms of price premium or demand from customers.
10. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2020, containing articles on Common shrimp (France, the Netherlands, Spain), red and blue shrimp (Italy, Portugal, Spain), fresh salmon in Germany, France and Spain and a case study on fisheries and aquaculture in Bangladesh
11. The European Commission published its annual EU Blue Economy Report to review the latest trends and developments in economic sectors related to the oceans and coastal areas. With close to 4.5 million people employed, a turnover of more than EUR665 billion and EUR184 billion in gross value added, the EU blue economy sectors contribute significantly to the EU's economy, especially in the coastal regions. It also points at the high cost of inaction on climate change, as the damage of rising sea levels could cause direct losses of more than
€200 billion per year by 2080 in the EU.
12. The European Commission launched the EU Blue Economy Observatory, a new knowledge dissemination platform for the sustainability of our oceans, seas and coastal areas. The observatory focuses on socio-economic components of the maritime related sectors with latest data, scientific evidence, insights, market information and findings related to ongoing trends and developments in the EU Blue Economy.
13. The European Parliament published a new Research study conducted for the PECH Committee on "Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the fisheries sector". The study reviews the main applications of AI systems in fisheries and identifies current challenges for fisheries that have the potential to be dealt with through AI. The review of AI techniques in fisheries revealed that common uses include inter alia automated biological sample processing, catch classification by species and sizes using AI and early warning systems and marine spatial planning. AI is also considered to present opportunities for increased transparency of fishing activity, early warning, forecasting and spatial planning systems and accelerated and increased data acquisition and coverage for stock assessments. The report presents 13 recommendations to help realise these opportunities.
14. During May 2022 there were 29 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 9 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 2 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 5 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 12 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 4 consignments of oysters from France.
15. DG SANTE reported on a remote audit in May 2021 of the food safety controls in place for live bivalve molluscs produced in Denmark, to assess compliance with EU regulations. The mission found that the official control system in place does not meet the requirements of EU legislation in most of the relevant parts. The classification and monitoring of production areas, and the decisions that the authority takes are inadequate. There was absence of oversight over laboratories and shortcomings in analytical methods, particularly for biotoxins, which constitute a serious limitation for the authorities to rely on testing results. The Commission considers "that potential public health risks cannot be excluded; the system does not reliably prevent live bivalve molluscs contaminated with E. coli and biotoxins exceeding the regulatory limits from reaching the market". Except for the availability of sanitary surveys, the situation in Denmark has not improved since the previous audit in 2012. Despite issuing written guarantees, the competent authorities have not implemented adequate actions to address the relevant recommendations of the previous report. The CA, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions, subsequently accepted by the Commission.
16. DG SANTE Reported on a remote audit in September 2021 of the food safety controls in place for fishery and aquaculture produced in Romania, to assess compliance with EU regulations. The mission found that there was a high number (>2000) of unregistered and uncontrolled fishery vessels which undermined the effectiveness of the system. Furthermore shortcomings were noted regarding monitoring of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls. These substances are included in the national sampling plan but had not been analysed since 2018. The central competent authority (CCA), the National Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority (NSVFSA)was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions, subsequently accepted by the Commission.
17. DG SANTE Reported on a remote audit in October 2021 of the food safety controls in New Zealand, in respect of fishery and aquaculture products exported to the EU under the conditions set out in the EU-NZ Agreement on sanitary measures applicable to live animals and animal products. The mission found that the Competent Authority (the Ministry for Primary Industry) is delivering the recognised conditions of equivalence, which concern the New Zealand standards applied to the production chain of fishery products intended for export to the EU. Specific controls for EU exported fishery products were carried out consistently by the FBOs and verified effectively by the Competent Authority, which was found to possess competencies and powers to ensure the consistent implementation of comprehensive controls over fishery products intended for export to the EU. Deficiencies identified in a previous audit in 2013 (controls on landing areas of vessels and food business operators' awareness of EU contaminant limits) were found to have been corrected.
18. The Commission and Member States discussed a Commission Implementing Regulation on uniform practical arrangements for the performance of official controls as regards contaminants in food. After the repeal of Council Directive 96/23/EC (on measures to monitor certain substances and residues thereof in live animals and animal products), a new regulation on control plans for contaminants is required. This sets out the requirements for monitoring of all contaminant hazards for products both of animal- and non-animal-origin. The draft lays down the annual uniform minimum frequencies of official controls on the presence of contaminants in food and specific arrangements and specific content for the Member States' multi-annual national control plans as regards contaminants in food.
19. The Commission and Member States endorsed a new guidance document on the implementation of the new rules and practical arrangements for official controls as regards contaminants in food, on order to comply with Commission Regulations. Guidance is provided on: sampling and analysis, control frequencies, submission of the control plans, transmission of data and the list of legislation covering the measures on contaminants.
20. Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed Section Novel Food and Toxicological Safety of the Food Chain met and discussed a draft statement on mineral oil hydrocarbons in food. The discussion follows-up the December 2021 Foodwatch report and emphasises the importance for operators and authorities in monitoring mineral oil aromatic hydrocarbons. For the sampling and analysis, the JRC has published a "Guidance on sampling methods, on the performance criteria for the analytical methods and on the reporting of the analytical results (https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC115694). New limits are also proposed in the guidance as to compliance limits for withdrawal from the market.
21. The Commission notified Member States that EFSA has published the 2020 Report on the results of the monitoring of veterinary medicinal product residues and other substances in live animals and animal products. The Commission informed Member States that the report is now published on the DG SANTE website. In addition, EFSA published a new interactive data visualisation tool that shows the residue monitoring results in more details.
22. The Commission and Member States discussed a draft amendment of Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 as regards maximum levels of dioxins and PCBs in certain foodstuffs. A review of WHO2005-TEF values is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Pending the completion of that review, the draft Regulation will establish maximum levels for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs for foodstuffs not yet covered by EU legislation. Amongst other foods, this includes meat from the abdomen of crustacean shellfish
23. The European Food Safety Authority published a risk assessment study on emergent marine toxin, with particular focus on harmful blooms of Cyanobacteria. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing is considered to have potential to become a powerful diagnostic tool for the early detection of cyanobacterial blooms as well, as the occurrence of emergent related marine toxins.
24. The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed Section Novel Food and Toxicological Safety of the Food Chain held an exchange of views the conditions of use, the specific labelling requirements and specifications of the novel food oil of Calanus finmarchicus (a North Atlantic planktonic copepod). The measure authorizes an increased maximum level of up to 0.25 % of astaxanthin esters contained in the oil for human consumption by persons >14 years. The measure also lays down additional labelling requirement in order to prevent concomitant consumption of astaxanthin food supplements.
25. The Commission and Member States discussed amendments to Regulation (EC) No 1333/2008. New maximum levels will be set (in place of quantum satis) for the use of ascorbic acid (E 300), sodium ascorbate (E 301) and calcium ascorbate (E302) which apply only for tuna.
26. A workshop was organised by the European Food Risk Assessment Fellowship Programme (EU-FORA), entitled: 'Food safety of fish and zoonoses: fish consumption and microbiological risk assessment and perception, from fisherman to final consumers in Portugal'. The event was hosted by the Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR), in Porto, Portugal. The study gathered information on risks, perception and attitudes to contamination of fish with Anisakis spp. in hake samples gathered in Portugal.
27. The EU Food Fraud Newsletter reported on findings with regard to seizure fishery products in Austria, Italy, Mexico, Germany, Bolivia, Tunisia, and Colombia. Main reasons were contraband catch (insufficient traceability, proof of legal catch, smuggling of fish), and species substitution. Fish in India was also reported to have been found to be contaminated with formalin!
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