FishFilesLite Newsletter
October 2022

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Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU sets 2023 fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea; bycatch only for some key stocks
2. Commission proposes 2023 fishing opportunities Mediterranean and Black Seas.
3. EU Court of Auditors criticises weak IUU controls by Member States
4. Commission and STECF publish 2022 Annual Economic Report
5. Commission reduces 2022 quotas due to overfishing by several EU countries
6. Commission describes post-Brexit EU-UK fisheries relations
7. Italian fishers permitted to continue inshore fishing for transparent goby
8. EU approves FPA Protocols/extensions with Mauritius and Gabon
9. New regulations on EU fishing in NAFO and West-Central Pacific
10. Commission publishes study on climate change and the CFP
11. EUMOFA reports on blue whiting, hake, haddock and dogfish.
12. Commission approves protected geographical indication for German carp
13. DG MARE promotes seaweed farming in Netherlands and aquaponics in Portugal
14. EU-Canada Ocean Partnership launched on research and knowledge exchange
15. DG MARE public consultation on EU Maritime Security Strategy

Fish Hygiene

16. Rapid alerts were notified for 40 consignments of fishery products
17. DG SANTÉ audits safety of Moroccan bivalves; concerns on biotoxin testing.
18. Interpol seizes illegal glass eels in Spain
19. Commission extends dioxins and PCB limits to abdomen meat of crabs

Common Fisheries Policy

1. The Council of the European Union reached an agreement on the fishing opportunities in the Baltic Sea for 2023, based on the recommendations of the European Commission. The current fishing opportunities for several stocks will be carried over into 2023. Additional recovery management measures will limit fishing of cod stocks, main basin salmon and western herring to unavoidable by-catches. Spawning closures and limitations on recreational fisheries for Baltic cod and salmon in some areas are also introduced. Virginijus Sinkevicius, Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, welcomed the agreement, saying: "I am happy that the Council has agreed to follow the Commission's …. proposal for most stocks."

2. The Commission proposed the EU fishing opportunities for 2023 for the Mediterranean and Black Seas. The proposal will continue to limit fishing effort for trawlers and longliners and will set catch limits for deep-water shrimps, in line with the Western Mediterranean multiannual management plan (MAP) for demersal stocks. Measures for red coral and dolphinfish are introduced in line with adopted GFCM decisions. Quotas are proposed for turbot and sprat in the Black Sea. Measures concerning blackspot seabream and some deep-water shrimp will be proposed after the 2022 GFCM annual session. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, said: "We must continue building on the positive trends of recent years and undertake more efforts to ensure stocks recovery for the benefit of local communities."

3. The European Court of Auditors published a Special Report on EU actions to combat illegal fishing. It reviewed the EU framework, action and spending aimed at preventing illegally caught imported fishery products from ending up on EU citizens' plates. Overall, it concluded that control systems were in place to combat illegal fishing, but they were only partially effective and weakened by uneven checks and sanctions by Member States. The ECA recommended that the Commission monitor Member States' control systems more closely, especially for preventing the import of illegal fishery products, and ensure that Member States apply adequate and dissuasive sanctions against illegal fishing.

4. The Commission and the Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee of Fisheries (STECF) published the 2022 Annual Economic Report on the economic performance of the EU Fishing Fleet. As well as dealing with the impacts of the COVID19 pandemic, EU fisheries are expected to struggle to maintain profits due to the sharp increase in energy costs and inflation in 2022 due to the war in Ukraine. The EU fishing fleet risks ending 2022 in a loss-making position. However, the report notes that EU financial support and national State aid is expected to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of the continued increase in energy prices and inflation. The long-term socio-economic viability of the EU fishing sector is expected to continue to depend on achieving sustainable fishing and successful energy transition.

5. The Commission applied deductions in 2022 fishing quotas to several EU countries for exceeding quota allocations in previous years. Significant overfishing addressed was in relation to herring catches by Dutch and Danish fishers, and anchovy by Portuguese fishers.

6. The Commission summarised current arrangements for EU-UK fisheries relations following Brexit. These are embodied in a negotiated set of agreements to protect citizens' rights while ensuring fair competition and continued cooperation on sustainable fisheries. As part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the EU and UK agreed on a new framework for the joint management of shared fish stocks in EU and UK waters. The parties will hold annual consultations to set the quotas and access rights for exploitation of shared fish stocks.

7. The Commission has renewed the derogation granted to Italian fishers which permits them to fish for transparent goby in the inshore waters of Manfredonia using boat seines (which would normally be prohibited in waters shallower than 50m).

8. The EU has approved the extension of the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Mauritius, which sets out the fishing opportunities for EU vessels and the subsidies paid by the EU. It also ratified the Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and Gabon for the period 2021 to 2026, and which sets out the annual fishing opportunities for EU vessels in Gabonese waters and the financial subsidies paid to the Government of Gabon. The Commission is authorised to approve amendments to the Protocol adopted by the Joint Committee of the parties.

9. The EU amended the rules governing EU vessels fishing in the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Area, in line with recent agreements of the parties to establish a comprehensive set of Conservation and Management Measures, now adopted into EU law. The EU also amended the rules governing EU vessels fishing in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation area in line with recent decisions of the parties. New reporting obligations are placed on the Competent Authorities of EU Member States.

10. The EU Commission has published a report on a study "Climate change and the Common Fisheries Policy: adaptation and building resilience to the effects of climate change on fisheries and reducing emissions of greenhouse gases from fishing". The study evaluates opportunities for reducing the carbon footprint of the marine wild capture sector managed under the current Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), while maintaining the viability, sustainability and resilience of this sector in the face of climate change stress factors. It assesses the preparedness of fisheries operators to climate-related resource, ecosystem, and economic shocks and considers the responses required. Examples include development and use of fuel-efficient practices and low-impact fishing, in coherence with environmental policies and environmental targets on reduction of CO2 emission.

11. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2022, containing articles on Blue whiting (France, the Netherlands, Spain) and European hake (France, Italy, Spain). It also estimated consumption of haddock in Ireland and Sweden and presented a case study on the EU market for Dogfish.

12. Following a period for registration of any objections, the EU Commission has approved a new protected geographical indication "Peitzer Karpfen" applicable to carp produced within the Peitz region of Brandenburg, Germany.

13. The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission published a news article on a project cultivating seaweed in the in the North Sea at Oosterschelde in the Netherlands. The AlgaeDemo project has demonstrated the economic feasibility of the deployment, operation and testing of a large-scale seaweed farming in EU waters. It also publicised a Portuguese project combining aquaculture and hydroponics, enabling cultivation of plants and aquatic animals in a recirculating water environment. With a production capacity to generate 45 tonnes of fresh certified fish per year, together with 130 tonnes of fresh vegetables, the start-up of the Fish n' Greens project was supported by the EU's Blueinvest facility.

14. The 1st Ocean Partnership Forum between the EU and Canada took place in Brussels on 3 and 4 October. Co-designed by the European Commission and the Department of Fisheries and Ocean of Canada, it brought together experts in the field of ocean observation and data sharing, coming from research institutes and public administration in Canada and Europe. A working group will identify opportunities for collaboration in relation to sharing knowledge and understanding of the Atlantic and Arctic developing best practices in marine data collection and sharing.

15. The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries of the European Commission published the results of a public consultation on the EU Maritime Security Strategy. Almost 70% of the respondents indicate that the objectives of the 2014 European Union Maritime Security Strategy and its Action Plan have been largely achieved. However, only 19% consider that the present Maritime Security Strategy and its Action Plan are fully relevant in addressing the evolving maritime security threats.

Fish Hygiene

16. During October 2022 there were 40 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 12 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 19 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 3 consignments of oysters from France, 2 consignments of frozen shrimp from Venezuela, 3 consignments of swordfish from Spain, and 2 consignments of tuna from Sri Lanka.

17. The Directorate-General Health and Food Safety of the European Commission reported on an audit mission to Morocco in June 2022, to order to evaluate the control systems in place governing the production of bivalve molluscs intended for export to the European Union. The mission found notable improvements since the previous audit in 2015 (with three out of four recommendations fully addressed). However, there were weaknesses in the testing for marine biotoxins, with particular concern concerning accreditation and performance of the testing methods for paralytic shellfish toxins. Concerns were also expressed regarding the assessment and representativeness of sanitary surveys used to classify production areas. No official controls or traceability checks were undertaken on marine gastropods (lined top shells) in primary production, thus risking the marketing of toxic products. The Moroccan competent authorities acknowledged the findings and submitted an action plan to rectify the points noted during the audit.

18. The EU Food Fraud Newsletter reported that the European Court of Auditors (ECA) has published a special report on illegal fishing in the European Union, which concludes that the control systems in place to combat illegal fishing are only partially effective (see above). The Newsletter also noted a number of incidents concerning fishery and aquaculture products. In Brazil, the authorities seized 1.7 tonnes of seafood mislabelled as a more expensive species and/or lacking traceability documentation. In Zimbabwe, the authorities seized 6 tonnes of mackerel smuggled from Mozambique. The Omani authorities seized more than 14 tonnes of illegally fished seafood. Italian operators seized 1 tonne of seafood without the required traceability documentation. In Spain the Civil Guard, in collaboration with Europol, seized 180 kg of critically endangered European glass eels (total value of 270 000 Euros), fishing for which is banned.

19. The Commission adopted amendments to the regulation which sets maximum levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in certain foodstuffs. The amendment extends the applicable limits to the muscle meat from the abdomen of crabs and crab-like crustaceans of the order Brachyura (which includes mitten crab) and Anomura.

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