FishFilesLite Newsletter
September 2022

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Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU bans bottom fishing in 87 sensitive deep-water zones below 400 metres
2. Commission defines vulnerable marine ecosystems and zones below 400 metres
3. EU Parliament publishes study on spatial measures in fisheries management
4. Commission publishes study on ecosystem approaches to fisheries management
5. Commission adjusts 2022 quotas for ray, anchovy, and horse mackerel
6. Irish vessels to stop fishing for albacore in the Atlantic Ocean
7. EU approves Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania
8. EU approves Protocol to Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Cook Islands
9. EU Economic and Social Committee recommends implementation of ICCAT rules
10. Commission updates excluded species from IUU Fishing Regulation
11. Political agreement to continue foreign fishing inside Member States' 6-12 mile zone.
12. Commission adopts EUR 38 million subsidy plan for Cyprus
13. EU Parliament objects to new rules disqualifying illegal fishery operators from subsidies
14. Commission publishes new CFP factsheet
15. EU and Seychelles host BlueInvest Africa event to finance new marine projects
16. Estonian researchers create autonomous remote fishery stock assessment system
17. EU finances projects to identify unexploded munitions on the seabed

Fish Hygiene

18. Rapid alerts were notified for 40 consignments of fishery products
19. DG SANTÉ reports on failures of Estonian CA to control Listeria in smoked fish
20. Commission publishes new advice on assessment of HACCP-based control systems
21. EFSA rejects activated carbon PCB decontamination of fish oils
22. Commission adopts new rules on recycling of plastic food contact materials
23. EU Food Fraud newsletter: Chinese study detects origin of urchins using isotope ratios

Common Fisheries Policy

1. After the ban on bottom trawling below 800 meters, introduced in 2016, the EU has now adopted a regulation to close 87 sensitive zones to all bottom gears in the EU waters of the North-East Atlantic. Based on the Deep-sea Access Regulation and on the advice from the scientists of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the new regulation protects 57 vulnerable deep-sea ecosystems in line with the EU biodiversity strategy. The total area of the closures represents 16,419 km2 reserved for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems below 400 metres. This represents 1.16% of the EU waters of the North-East Atlantic. The closures concern vessels equipped with bottom gears, meaning bottom trawls, dredges, bottom-set gill nets, bottom-set longlines, pots and traps. The closures will help to restore and conserve vulnerable marine ecosystems such as cold-water coral reefs, sea mounts and sea pens in deep waters. Virginijus Sinkevicius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: "It is our duty to our society, to the future generations and in particular to those whose livelihood depend on marine resources."

2. The Commission has adopted a regulation which identifies and defines existing deep-sea fishing areas for bottom-contacting gears at a depth range between 400 and 800 metres along with a list of areas where vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) are known to occur or are likely to occur in Union waters. The measure will help Member States to prevent significant adverse impacts on VMEs by deep-sea fishing and to ensure the long-term conservation of deep-sea fish stocks.

3. The PECH Committee if the European Parliament published a note on research on the costs and benefits of spatial protection measures as tools for fisheries management. The note summarises a study evaluating three types of spatial protection measures: (i) Fish Stock Recovery Areas (FSRAs), (ii) Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), and areas designated as (iii) Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs). The research assesses how far fisheries co-management approaches can potentially help to achieve the European Union targets and describes three case studies from France, Spain, and Greece.

4. The European Commission has published a study on "The implementation of ecosystem-based approaches applied to fisheries management under the CFP". The study provides a state-of-play of the implementation of ecosystem-based approaches in the North and Baltic Seas, Western Atlantic and Outermost Regions. It identifies the main challenges as mitigate fishing impacts, improving the advisory process and its knowledge base, and strengthening the decision-making process, including participative mechanisms.

5. The Commission adopted a regulation adjusting fishing quotas for 2022 for some Member States, to compensate for under-utilised quota in previous years. The European Commission also amended the annual TACS and quota regulation to adjust the 2022 quotas allocated to Member States of the Undulate ray (Raja undulata), as well as for anchovy and horse mackerel in the Eastern Atlantic, following the delivery of new scientific advice from ICES.

6. A stop fishing notice was published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Irish vessels fishing for albacore in the Atlantic Ocean, north of 5°N.

7. The EU formally approved the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritania, along with its first Implementing Protocol. The Commission is authorised to approve, on behalf of the Union, amendments to the Protocol adopted by the Joint Committee of the parties established under the Partnership Agreement. The Commission also published the minutes of several meetings the Joint Scientific Committee to the EU-Mauritania Fisheries Partnership Agreement.

8. The EU formally approved the Protocol on the implementation of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Government of the Cook Islands. The Commission is empowered to approve amendments to the Protocol to be adopted by the Joint Committee. The Protocol was provisionally signed on 17 December 2021, following negotiations on its renewal.

9. The European Economic and Social Committee, a consultative body of the European Union, has expressed an opinion on the proposed changes to the regulations applying to EU vessels operating in the ICCAT area. The Committee recommends that the Commission be granted delegated powers to implement all ICCAT resolutions, addressing tropical tuna capacity limitations and the reporting of its annual capacity fishing plan as well as a wide range of additional technical measures concerning bycatch reduction.

10. The Commission adopted a regulation updating the list of products considered to be excluded from the definition of fishery products subject to the EU's IUU Fishing Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008.

11. The Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament reached a provisional political agreement concerning a 10-year extension to rules for access of fishing vessels to Member States' territorial waters (since the current Agreement was about to expire at the end of the 2022). The Agreement allows coastal states to reserve access to the first 6 miles for their national fleets and upholds the historic rights of other member states in the 6-12 mile zone.

12. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Cyprus for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 38 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the Cypriot Programme 2021-2027 is EUR54.7 million. The programme will contribute to the EU policy priorities outlined in the European Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, said: "Through this programme, Cyprus can build a resilient, and sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and processing sector, that can help us decarbonise our economy".

13. The European Parliament has notified the Commission of its formal objection to a Commission Regulation defining the infringements which determine inadmissibility to support under the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The Parliament considers the Commission's disqualification conditions to be disproportionate to the nature and extent of the infringements identified.

14. The Commission has published a factsheet is basic statistical data on EU fisheries and the Common Fisheries Policy.

15. The European Union, in cooperation with the Government of the Republic of Seychelles hosted the BlueInvest Africa event in Mahe, Seychelles in early September. This physical and online event brought together entrepreneurs and investors interested in projects to advance the African blue economy. The event will comprise the presentation by entrepreneurs of 23 "blue" projects to a panel of investors and stakeholders present in Mahe and online, with a view to securing the co-finance required to develop their projects.

16. Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries issues a press release concerning a project undertaken by the Estonian Marine Institute at the University of Tartu to create an autonomous vessel and survey platform for fishery stock assessment using acoustic sounding with sonars. DG MARE considers that although this is a very promising project, some technological limitations remain to overcome in relation to power supply and communication of data.

17. DG MARE has publicised two projects aimed at reducing the risks to human health, marine ecosystems, and biodiversity from an estimated 1.6 million tonnes of unexploded ordinance dumped at sea by European Governments in the 20th Century. The EU funded projects aim to develop new methods of finding unexploded munitions on the seabed. One method uses ultra-high-resolution 3D sub-bottom profiling and an autonomous underwater vehicle magnetically mapping the sea bottom. The other uses a shipboard sampling system to concentrate and analyse explosive materials or chemical warfare agents in the seawater to locate areas with underwater munitions.

Fish Hygiene

18. During September 2021 there were 40 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 11 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 21 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for cephalopod and gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of mussels from France, 2 consignments of shrimp from Ecuador, 3 consignments of shrimp from Venezuela, and 4 consignments of frozen fish and molluscs from Mauritania.

19. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission reported on a remote audit carried out in Estonia in October 2020 to assess the official controls on the production chain of smoked fishery products and following a series of multi-country outbreaks of listeriosis due to Listeria monocytogenes, and an associated eight RASFF alerts arising from Estonian products since 2015 (all but one from the same establishment). The mission found weaknesses in the training of veterinary officers in relation to checks on HACCP based procedures for aquaculture products. It also found that the Competent Authority failed to effectively verify controls following the Listeria outbreak. The Competent Authority, the Veterinary and Food Board was requested to submit a guarantee that an action plan of corrective actions would be implemented.

20. The Commission has published an updated advisory note on the implementation of food safety management systems covering prerequisite programmes (PRP) and procedures based on the HACCP principles, including the need for flexible interpretation of the requirements when implemented in certain food businesses. The notice provides advice in determining whether the HACCP based procedures applied in a food establishment meet the requirements of EU Regulation 852/2004. It considers the differences between GHP and operational prerequisite programmes (OPRP) under ISO2200. It also includes advice on auditing food safety management systems and HACCP checklists.

21. The European Food Safety Authority Journal published a study by the Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain to assess a decontamination process of fish oils and vegetable oils and fats aimed at reducing the concentrations of dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (DL-PCBs) by adsorption to activated carbon. The panel considered that there was insufficient evidence to conclude whether or not the proposed decontamination process is effective in reducing PCDD/Fs and DL-PCBs in fish- and vegetable oils. The panel also considered that it was possible that the process could also deplete some beneficial constituents (e.g. vitamins) and could not therefore meet the acceptability criteria provided for decontamination processes set out in Commission Regulations.

22. The European Commission adopted a regulation on the use of recycled plastic food contact materials, which enter into force on 10 October 2022. The regulation ensures that decontamination processes lead to the plastic being safe when recycled for use again as a food contact material. It requires the European Food Safety Authority to assess recycling processes to verify that they are capable of producing safe plastics. The processes may then be authorised, and operators registered with their national authorities. It also sets out rules applicable to quality control of the recycled plastic, as well as enforcement, and sets rules for the placing on the market of plastic with recycled content.

23. The EU's food fraud newsletter for August 2022 published accounts of: illegally imported crustaceans in Singapore; seizure of 800 tons of frozen horse mackerel (total value of 1.18 million Euros) suspected of being fished illegally; seizure of several consignments of seafood in Italy without traceability documentation. In addition, in China, researchers reported on a method for detecting origin of sea urchin using isotope ratio analysis.

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