FishFilesLite Newsletter
June 2022

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Common Fisheries Policy


1. WTO 12th Ministerial Conference outlaws some state subsidies for fishing
2. Commission publishes annual fisheries report; Mediterranean remains a problem
3. Portugal and Kenya host 2nd UN Oceans Conference; attended by World Leaders
4. EU unveils renewed agenda on Ocean Governance
5. EU's DG MARE finds benefits in regionalisation of fisheries management decisions
6. EU Commissioners issue Joint Statement on World Oceans Day
7. EUMOFA publishes latest edition; articles on herring and anchovy
8. Commission introduces new controls on mobile bottom fishing gear in the Kattegat
9. EU to ban bottom gears in deep-water vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs)
10. GFCM launches EUR8 million regional sustainable fisheries management programme
11. EU fishery and aquaculture subsidies granted to Czech Republic and France
12. EU projects improve utilisation of swimming crab and toadfish

Fish Hygiene


13. Thirty seven fishery/aquaculture RASFF Alerts during June 2022
14. DG SANTÉ reports on controls for fishery products in Netherlands; CA understaffed
15. DG SANTÉ reports on controls for fishery products in El Salvador; several failures
16. DG SANTÉ reports on controls for fishery products in Korea; gaps in monitoring
17. Commission reviews third country aquaculture residue Monitoring Plans
18. Commission discusses list of approved third country suppliers of fishery products
19. EFSA publishes research on genetic sequencing of Norovirus in bivalve molluscs
20. EU Food Fraud Newsletter reports on global eel fraud worth USD152 million
21. EFSA launches EU Choose Safe Food campaign and website
22. EFSA hosts ONE Health Environment and Society Conference

Common Fisheries Policy


1. The 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO was held, against a backdrop of heightened global trade tensions and a food security crisis caused by Russian's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Trade Ministers of the 164-member organisation met for the first time after almost five years, the Conference having been postponed twice due to the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Members agreed on a significant multilateral Agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies. This includes a strong prohibition of subsidies contributing to illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing with unprecedented transparency provisions. It also includes an absolute prohibition of subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas. This is a landmark prohibition for the most vulnerable areas lacking an established and coordinated fisheries management regime. And thirdly, the provision on overfished stocks will bring sustainability rules for subsidies regarding most vulnerable stocks in the first phase of the agreement. Members also agreed on specific next steps toward WTO reform, including restoring a fully functioning dispute settlement function for the organisation. European Commission Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, said: "Ultimately, this is about restoring trust and the political buy-in of all members, and upholding the rules-based multilateral trade system with a reformed WTO at its core."

2. The Commission published its annual report to the European Parliament and the Council "Towards more sustainable fishing in the EU: state of play and orientations for 2023". The report notes that in 2020 the overall fishing mortality ratio fell below 1.0 in the Northeast Atlantic for the first time, although certain important stocks remain overfished and/or outside safe biological limits. Mediterranean stocks remain fished at 1.94 times the MSY rates. Fleet dimensions hardly changed; in December 2021, the EU registered fleet (including that active in the outermost regions) consisted of 74,380 vessels of 1,320,362 GT and 5,304,015 kW. However, the Commission has serious concerns concerning the accuracy and reliability of engine power declarations by Member States. There are also significant gaps in the provision of biological data in the outermost regions and in the eastern Mediterranean basin, and of economic and biological indicators for many fleet segments and their target stocks. The landing obligation is now fully implemented but advice from STECF and ICES (International Council for the Exploration of the Sea) indicates that levels of unwanted catches remain high in many mixed demersal fisheries in EU waters (between 20-30%). There is little data on the socio-economic impacts of the landing obligation and control and enforcement of the landing obligation remain problematic. The document also considers the disruption to fisheries and markets caused by Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. High fuel costs are expected to disrupt production further with fleet segments using fuel-intensive gears such as trawling being the most affected. Member states, Advisory Councils, the fishing industry, non-governmental organisations and interested citizens are invited to take part in a public consultation between June and the end of August and to express their views on the fishing opportunities for 2023.

3. The Governments of Portugal and Kenya hosted the second UN Conference to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 ('SDG 14'). Within the framework of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, SDG 14 on "life below water" aims at conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources. The Conference was held in Lisbon and attended by world leaders, scientists, the business community, NGOs and activists to discuss and agree on action to preserve and sustainably use the oceans. The EU reaffirmed its strong commitment to the implementation of SDG 14. Virginijus Sinkevicius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries attended the Conference and said: "..the UN Conference is another opportunity for the international community to agree on actions to protect the oceans and to develop a sustainable blue economy. Solutions exist. They are in our hands. So, let's act quickly and decisively."

4. On the eve of the UN Ocean Conference and the forthcoming UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) (5-17 December 2022 in Montreal) the European Commission and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy unveiled the renewed EU agenda on International Ocean Governance. This proposes actions for a secure, clean and sustainably managed ocean. The EU confirmed its active role in international ocean governance and its commitment to strengthen implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goal 14 on Life Below Water. The new agenda has an important role in delivering on the blue part of the European Green Deal. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said: "…nearly two-thirds of the world's ocean are beyond national jurisdiction. This requires a collective global approach to protect and restore them, and to use the ocean´s enormous potential in a sustainable way to the benefit of societies around the globe."

5. DG MARE of the European Commission issued a report on the effects of regionalisation of fisheries management decisions. The work maps the fisheries regionalisation process in the EU and examines its main developments over time, explicitly mapping the stakeholders involved, the regional groups and management measures adopted. The study concludes that regionalisation is necessary and useful. Without it, it would be difficult to manage fisheries with the same level of detail, because a one-size-fits-all approach under the CFP would ignore local specificities that apply in a particular sea basin.

6. The European Commission's High Representative/Vice- President Josep Borrell, and Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevicius issued a Joint Statement on the occasion of World Oceans Day on 8 June 2022. The statement highlights the fundamental importance of the ocean to life on earth, and the need for a collective global approach to protect and restore the ocean, and to use the ocean´s enormous potential in a sustainable way to the benefit of societies around the globe.

7. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2020, containing articles on First Sales of Atlantic herring in Lithuania, Netherlands and Sweden, and European anchovy in France, Italy, and Spain. There is a report on consumption of whiting in France, and case studies on EU trade in 2021 and EU-UK trade flows in fishery products.

8. The Commission amended the regulation governing conservation measures for the protection of the marine environment in the North Sea. Following a submission by Denmark, Sweden, and Germany new measures to protect soft seabed and reef structures from fisheries with mobile bottom contacting gears are introduced in several Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) areas and one Natura 2000 site in the Kattegat. The areas limit certain fishing gears, including in some cases bans on the use of mobile bottom contacting gear as well as requiring certain vessels to carry an automatic identification system.

9. The EU's Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture approved the Commission's proposal to close vulnerable areas to fishing gears which touch the seabed. This proposal aims to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) in deep waters. The measure closes certain deep-water zones of EU seas to all bottom gears, ranging from deep-sea long lining to bottom trawling. The measure establishes the closure of 57 vulnerable habitats in the North-East Atlantic, where sea pens, corals or anemones Virginius are at risk. Sinkevicius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: "…this measure is a concrete step under the EU Biodiversity Strategy to limit the use of fishing gears most harmful to biodiversity in EU waters".

10. The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) launched the MedSea4Fish programme which aims to apply models of regionalisation and stakeholder participation within the GFCM capacity-building framework. It will support Mediterranean riparian countries and stakeholders in meeting their GFCM commitments through active participation in strategic initiatives. The goals of the programme are to create a level playing field and to ensure the sustainable management of fisheries in the Mediterranean Sea. The European Commission will support the implementation of the programme with its EUR8 million GFCM grant.

11. The Commission adopted the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF) Programme (for the period 2021-2027) for France (EUR567 million) and for the Czech Republic (EUR30 million) to implement the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and EU policy priorities outlined in the European Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies.

12. DG MARE of the European Commission issued a report on an EU financed project to improve the utilisation of the blue swimming crab (Callinectes sapidus), a species introduced into European waters several years ago with significant negative environmental impacts. The project is developing a control plan containing measures and actions to promote the sustainable recovery of the Albufera Lagoon in the Gulf of Valencia, Spain, by reducing blue crab numbers through the design and application of new selective fishing methods. It also publicised another EU financed project to limit the growth of the invasive pufferfish population in the Mediterranean. The silver-cheeked toadfish (Lagocephalus sceleratus) migrated via the Suez Canal from the Indian Ocean but can often destroy fishing nets and damage the catch, causing economic losses. The project managed by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFMR) in Cyprus, pays the fishers EUR3 per kilo of pufferfish landed to cover for the lack of commercial value. Catches of pufferfish are now declining in the area, showing that fishers were able to continue practising their profession, survive financially and protect marine biodiversity and ecosystems.

Fish Hygiene


13. During June 2022 there were 37 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 2 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 6 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 2 consignments of frozen octopus and 2 consignments of frozen cuttlefish from Morocco, 2 consignments of shrimp from Ecuador, 2 consignments of grouper fish from Kenya, and 3 consignments of sardines from Morocco.

14. DG SANTÉ published a report on a remote audit mission in Netherlands, carried out in February 2022 with a view to assessing the control systems for the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The mission found that the official control system does not cover primary production, and its implementation is impeded by severe and long-standing staff shortages. Time constraints during annual inspections impeded the effectiveness of controls. The risk categorisation procedure has limited criteria and does not allow adaptation of official controls to the specific risk levels posed by operations in individual food business operators. These shortcomings are mitigated by the work of highly skilled inspectors, and an effective system of follow-up for of non-compliances identified at operators. Official monitoring is in place, supported by a competent laboratory. The audit also found that the food safety systems of operators and the official controls on brown shrimp production cannot guarantee that legal limits for benzoic acid are observed. The Competent Authority, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Products Safety Authority submitted a plan of corrective actions, accepted by the Commission.

15. DG SANTÉ published a report on a remote audit mission carried out in El Salvador in October 2021 with a view to assessing the control systems for the export of fishery products to the EU. The mission found that there were several gaps in the official control of sanitary conditions of fishery products exported to the European Union. There was no written procedure for listing establishments and vessels. The CA did not identify deficiencies in the freezing process on board fishing vessels (slow freezing, failure to reach target temperatures) and failed to detect deficiencies in storage temperature regimes. The CA did not have adequate oversight of health declarations issued by captains of tuna vessels engaged in transhipment to reefer vessels. The CA also permitted the incorrect issue of health certificates by the CA of a third country where transhipment took place. Certificates were also issued with incorrect information concerning vessel or establishment of origin and despatch. The Division for Safety of Products of Animal Origin of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock guaranteed to address a list of corrective actions, subsequently accepted by the Commission.

16. DG SANTÉ published a report on a remote audit mission carried out in Korea in December 2021 with a view to assessing the control systems for the export of fishery products to the EU. The mission found that the necessary guarantees were not in place concerning all elements of the sanitary conditions required for fishery products to be exported to the European Union. A number of elements compromise its effectiveness including only a voluntary requirement for traceability, no list of fishing vessels which comply with EU food safety requirements, lack of inspection of primary production (fishing vessels, landing site, first sale), lack of traceability and suspected use of dual-use holds (fish & fuel). Furthermore, the Competent Authority could not ascertain the EU-eligibility of imported fishery products that are re-exported or are used in products exported to the EU and official controls were not performed for certain contaminants (tin in canned products, certain PCB congeners, certain PAH compounds, parasites, and additives). The Competent Authority, the National Fishery Products Quality Management Service of the Ministry of Fisheries guaranteed to implement a plan of corrective actions agreed by the Commission.

17. The Commission and Member States discussed the state of play regarding the submission of Residue Monitoring Plans for farmed products of animal origin submitted by third countries. Approvals for aquaculture products are now expressed separately for each of finfish, caviar. Crustacea and molluscs (including echinoderms, tunicates etc). A new list will be issued shortly in a Commission Regulation.

18. The Commission and Member States also held an exchange of views on a draft Commission Regulation to update the lists of third countries authorised for the entry into the Union of certain fishery products.

19. The European Food Safety Authority published a report on "Next Generation Sequencing on Norovirus contaminated oyster samples" recognized as a significant public health risk. Next-generation sequencing (and in particular metabarcoding with separate amplification of polymerase and capsid gene segments followed by Illumina sequencing) offers the opportunity to describe the diversity of Norovirus strains present in bivalve molluscs or to retrace transmission chains in outbreak settings.

20. The EU published the latest Food Fraud newsletter with news of a major international fish-related fraud in USA. A criminal organisation was prosecuted over the smuggling of CITES protected European eels into the US market, following processing in China. The fraud was estimated to have worth USD152 million over 4 years. Elsewhere, in the UK the Food Safety Authority Food Crime Unit reported the false declaration of origin of smoked salmon placed on the UK market, and in Italy tens of people were poisoned in Italy following the consumption of adulterated tuna treated with illegal additives. The Italian Authorities also seized 4 tonnes of clams and 7 tonnes of tuna without traceability documentation attesting to their origin. Illegally fished sea urchins were also seized.

21. The European Food Safety Authority launched the EU Choose Safe Food campaign and website aimed at helping consumers to choose safe food based on the scientific work of the Authority. The site includes a downloadable communication toolkit for food safety awareness. EUChooseSafeFood - Trusted Science for Safe Food (europa.eu)

22. EFSA hosted the ONE Health Environment and Society Conference, a four-day event in cooperation with 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). The Conference examined food and feed safety from a broader perspective of sustainability, explored possible developments in risk assessment science, and reflected on future strategic goals and directions for regulatory science. Participants discussed pandemic preparedness to protecting plant health, animal welfare, managing the microbiome, nutrition, artificial intelligence, ecosystems and food innovation.

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