1. At the 45th Annual Meeting of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the EU and more than 20 other coastal countries unanimously adopted a total of 21 new measures, including the establishment, for the first time, of five fully-fledged multiannual management plans (MAPs) and other actions aimed at the management and control of fisheries, aquaculture, and the protection of sensitive habitats. The EU will support the implementation of the measures and the new GFCM 2030 Strategy with an annual grant of EUR8 million.
2. The annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) adopted a new management procedure for Bluefin tuna, a sustainable management plan for South Atlantic shortfin mako shark, and an important measure to reduce sea turtle bycatch, along with other key measures. The new bluefin tuna management procedure provides the basis for total allowable catches (TAC) of 40,570 tonnes for the eastern stock, with a share of 21,503 tonnes for the EU.
3. The EU adopted the regulation setting the 2023 TACs and quotas for EU vessels fishing in the Baltic Sea in line with the political agreement reached by EU fisheries ministers last month. The current fishing opportunities for several stocks are carried over into 2023. Additional recovery management measures limit the catching 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 are also confirmed in some areas.
4. The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced that it has updated the proposal for the 2023 fishing opportunities in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, by adding missing elements including fishing opportunities stemming from the outcomes of the 45th annual session of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). These include the provisions for the two new MAPs for demersal stocks and deep-water shrimps in the Strait of Sicily, the new MAPs for deep-water shrimps in the Ionian and the Levant Sea, and the new MAP for blackspot seabream in the Alboran Sea. Measures focus on the introduction of catch limits for deep-water shrimps and blackspot seabream, an effort regime for hake and a capacity freeze for all the fleets affected by the new MAPs.
5. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Spain for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 1.12 billion for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR 1.57 billion. 41.1% of the programme allocation will be dedicated to sustainable fisheries, 35.5% will be invested in sustainable aquaculture and in processing and marketing, 9.4% will be dedicated to sustainable blue economy in coastal regions, 5.2% will be invested in support of the Canary Islands fisheries and aquaculture sectors, and 3.2% will be invested in the
strengthening of international ocean governance.
6. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Italy for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 518 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR987 million. The programme will contribute to the EU policy priorities outlined in the European Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies and focus on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, the blue economy and ocean governance measures.
7. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Germany for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 212 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR 302.6 million. 49% of the programme's allocation will be dedicated to sustainable fisheries, 33% will be invested in sustainable aquaculture and in processing and marketing, 10% will be dedicated to sustainable blue economy in coastal and inland regions and 2% will be invested in the strengthening of international ocean governance, all contributing to the EU's environmental and climate objectives. The EMFAF will support also innovation with a focus on energy efficiency and CO2 reduction, consisting of knowledge sharing and transfer between research organisation and the fisheries and aquaculture sectors.
8. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Croatia for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 243.6 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR 348 million. 46.4% of the programme's allocation will be dedicated to sustainable fisheries, 39.6% will be invested in sustainable aquaculture, processing and marketing, 13.6% will be dedicated to sustainable blue economy and 0.4% will be invested in strengthening of international ocean governance. All supported activities are intended to contribute to the EU's environmental and climate objectives.
9. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Netherlands for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 98 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR 140 million. 83% of the programme allocation will be dedicated to sustainable fisheries and conservation of aquatic biological resources, 8% will be invested in sustainable aquaculture and in processing and marketing, and 3% will be invested in the strengthening of international ocean governance.
10. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Bulgaria for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 85 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR 121 million. The programme is aimed at sustainable fisheries, sustainable aquaculture and processing and marketing, sustainable blue economy in coastal and inland regions and investments in strengthening of international ocean governance.
11. The Commission also adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Lithuania for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 61.2 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR87.4 million. The programme will contribute to the EU policy priorities outlined in the European Green Deal, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies and focus on supporting the sustainable growth of Lithuania's fisheries sector, improving the overall resilience of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, increasing the environmental efficiency of aquaculture and improving biodiversity, as well as improving the resilience and profitability of the sector's market.
12. The Commission adopted the plan submitted by the Government of Malta for the disbursement of subsidies from the EU valued at EUR 21.8 million for the period 2021-2027, under the EU's Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund. The total financial allocation for the 2021-2027 is EUR 31.2 million. The programme will allocate 79.4% to support sustainable fisheries and protection and restoration of marine environments and invest 14.6% in sustainable aquaculture and marketing.
13. The Commission adopted a regulation which exempts bottom-set gillnet fisheries for turbot in the Black Sea from the EU's landing obligation, due to the proven high survivability of discards. The resulting discard plan thus permits discards until 31 December 2024. Similar discard exemptions were adopted for Venus shells (Venus spp.), Scallops (Pecten jacobaeus) and Carpet clams (Venerupis spp.) in the western Mediterranean Sea; mackerel, horse mackerel, herring, sprat, sandeel, Norway pout, blue whiting, ling, Northern prawn and whiting in the North Sea, and common sole, cuckoo ray, red seabream and whiting in Western waters.
14. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Italian vessels fishing for giant red shrimp in certain GFCM geographical subareas.
15. The EU and Madagascar agreed on the text of a new sustainable fisheries partnership agreement (SFPA), together with its implementing protocol. This new agreement restores the partnership between the EU and Madagascar that expired without renewal in 2018. The agreement will allow 65 tuna fishing vessels from EU Member States to access Madagascar waters over a period of 4 years. In exchange, the EU will provide Madagascar with compensation of EUR700,000 per year to, based on a reference catch of 14,000 tons of tuna and provide EUR1.1 million for sectoral support for development of the fisheries sector and the blue economy in Madagascar. The total EU contribution will be EU1.8 million per year.
16. The fourth Joint Committee of the sustainable fisheries partnership agreement between the European Union and Morocco was held in Rabat. The parties reviewed fishing activity under the Agreement, and progress in the implementation of the fisheries sectoral support programme financed by the EU. The European Union makes a total financial contribution estimated at EUR208 million over 4 years, including compensation for access to the fishing zone, support for the Moroccan fisheries sector and payment of fees by shipowners. The implementation of the protocol gives access to approximately 130 vessels flying the flag of 10 Member States of the European Union.
17. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA) has delivered its 2022 Edition analysing the EU market for fishery and aquaculture products. The publication addresses the EU in the world markets, EU supplies to market, consumption data and trends, EU import and export products and markets, landing of fish in the EU and aquaculture production. It provides market breakdowns by country, as well as values and volumes of different fish species supplied to the EU market.
18. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2022, containing articles on markets for Atlantic Salmon (in Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal) and sea trout (France, Lithuania, Portugal), Shrimp (Crangon spp) in the Netherlands, and a case study on Monkfish in the EU.
19. EUMOFA also published a study on the prices and price structure of Oysters in the EU market. The study analyses production and market trends at the EU level, focusing on price structure along the supply chain in France, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Production was almost 98,000 tonnes in 2020, a decrease of 7% compared to 2019.
20. EUMOFA issued an open invitation to join the upcoming online EUMOFA Talk, which will be held online on December 15th 2022 (14:00 - 15:30 CET). The discussions will focus on current trends of increasing costs of raw materials, with a special focus on fish processing and aquaculture. Interested parties can register online at EUMOFA - European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture.
21. DG MARE of the European Commission issued a press released on the Annual Economic Report on the EU fishing fleet, published last month. In 2020, the EU fishing fleet numbered 73,716 vessels with a combined gross tonnage of 1.30 million and engine power of 5.26 million kW. Based on data submitted by Member States under the EU MAP, there were 56,111 active vessels in 2020 offering direct employment to 124,636 fishers, corresponding to 82,272 FTEs, on average earning EUR 25,654 in annual wages.
22. The Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries published a news article concerning the work of three EU-supported fisheries local action groups in the Gulf of Cádiz, Spain which have jointly developed an overarching strategic plan for three fisheries areas, in cooperation with local scientific authorities. One of the initiatives already implemented was the development of a digital tool, in the form of an app that helps small scale coastal fishers to record and manage their reporting obligations, thus improving the accuracy and organisation of fisheries management data.
23. The European Commission issued a Communication "Towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector". It sets out why algae are considered an untapped resource in Europe, what has been done so far under the Roadmap for the Blue Bioeconomy and considers reasons for the limited success. It sets out the need for improving the governance framework and legislation, supporting the improvement of the business environment. It proposes also to close knowledge, data, technological and innovation gaps and increase social awareness and market acceptance of algae and algae-based products,
24. The European Commission launched a call for evidence to help accelerate the energy transition of the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector. The Commission considers that the current reliance on fossil fuels is a structural problem that requires a long-term approach to make the sector more resilient and sustainable. It is therefore seeking views and opinions which will feed into a new initiative to develop a long-term strategy for the energy transition. The initiative will put in place the structures to enhance cooperation between stakeholders and help to remove the current barriers to the uptake of energy-efficient technologies by fisheries and aquaculture operators. The call is open until 5 December 2022.
25. At the COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) announced the creation of the Blue Mediterranean Partnership, which aims to support the transition to a sustainable blue economy in the European Union's Southern Neighbourhood countries in the Mediterranean region. The partnership will be accompanied by a new financial vehicle to accelerate investment in the blue economy for the Mediterranean region.
26. During November 2022 there were 30 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 4 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 5 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 20 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 2 consignments of clams from Italy, 2 consignments of red scorpionfish from Morocco, 2 consignments of fried fish fillets from Poland, and 2 consignments of smoked swordfish from Spain.
27. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission published a report on an audit carried out in May 2022 in Greece to evaluate the food safety control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The mission found that fishing vessels and landing site operations were not subject to sufficient inspection and controls, with the result that compliance with EU food safety rules could not be verified. Furthermore, a number of important non-compliances in operators had not been identified, such as hygiene failures in auction halls, products in cold-stores not labelled and untraceable, and HACCP plans missing important hazards (such as sulphites applied to crustacea). Testing laboratories did not use the correct method for analysing histamine, casting doubts on the validity of results. Several of these shortcomings were identified in a previous audit, but had not been corrected by the Competent Authorities, in spite of guarantees issued at the time. The Commission considers that this is due to long-standing staff shortages, coupled with "rigidities regarding resource management". The Competent Authorities, the DG of Veterinary Services and the Hellenic Food Authority, once again guaranteed to the Commission that they would address their ongoing failure to apply EU regulations.
28. The European Commission has amended the EU's Food Additive Regulation 1333/2008 to set new maximum levels for three antioxidant additives (ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate) in tuna products, to limit their potential use as colour modifiers in fresh thawed tuna. The measure aims to combat food fraud (use of "refreshed" loins from brine frozen tuna for direct human consumption) and to limit the exposure of consumers to the risk of histamine poisoning. Thus, a limit of 300 mg/kg is set for all three compounds in both unprocessed and processed tuna.
29. The European Food Safety Authority's Panel on Food Additives and Flavourings has updated their assessment of health risks of sulfur dioxide (E220) and sulfites (E221-228) in foods. Sulfites are added as preservatives and antioxidants (for example, to prevent discolouration) to a range of foodstuffs including crustacea, cephalopods and dried fishery products. The assessment found clear evidence of adverse health effects on the central nervous system such as a delayed response of nerve cells to stimuli, an early sign of nervous system dysfunction. However, the available toxicity data was insufficient for EFSA to derive an Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) level and concluded that dietary intakes of sulfites could be a safety concern for high consumers of foodstuffs that contain the additives. EFSA's scientists called for more toxicity data studies and restated their previous recommendation to further investigate hypersensitivity or intolerance among some sensitive consumers due to knowledge gaps.
30. The Commission adopted a regulation which clarifies the rules concerning monitoring of Pectinidae, marine gastropods and echinoderms, which are not filter feeders. Harvesting from classified production and relaying areas is not required, as long as the competent authorities carry out official controls on such animals in fish auctions, dispatch centres and processing establishments. Such official controls shall verify compliance with: (a) the health standards for live bivalve molluscs; and (b) the specific requirements for Pectinidae, marine gastropods and echinoderms which are not filter feeders, that are harvested outside the classified production areas as laid down elsewhere in the regulation.
31. The EU published its October edition of the Food Fraud newsletter, reporting fish smuggling in Panama, yet more consignments of bivalves without traceability documentation in Italy, illegally caught fishery products in French Guyana, and Spanish sardines without traceability documentation.
32. The European Commission and the EU Agri-Food Fraud Network,
published the results of a coordinated enforcement action on plastic food contact materials (FCM) containing bamboo. The action aimed to prevent the illegal import, trade and advertising of plastic articles sold as food contact materials which contain bamboo and other unauthorised plant-based additives. The addition of bamboo to plastic food contact materials can lead to the accelerated degradation of the plastic and leaching of formaldehyde and melamine. After a year-long action there were 748 interventions (border rejection or market level controls) leading to removal of affected products from the market.
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