1. The United States of America announced their intention to join the High Ambition Coalition on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction. The coalition parties are committed to achieve an international agreement on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ, also known as the "Treaty of the High Seas"), under the auspices of the United Nations. The Treaty will allow the designation of marine protected areas and will regulate human activities in the High Seas. The announcement from the United States, the 51st party to join, takes place ahead of a decisive new round of talks, due to start on 20 February in the United Nations.
2. The EU Parliament published the executive summary of a research study for the PECH Committee - "Role and impact of China on world fisheries and aquaculture". The study found that there are large discrepancies and uncertainty in the number of vessels reportedly engaged in the Chinese distant water fleets. Production of about 2 million tonnes per year of farmed marine fish generates a demand for fish feed which has made China the world's major importer of fishmeal, diverting food fish from poorer developing countries. Another key trend is the steady replacement of primary by secondary processed products in the Chinese export offer.
3. The Commission has issued a Decision identifying Cameroon as a non-cooperating country in the fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, giving it a so-called 'red card'. EU Member States are now required to refuse the importation of fishery products from Cameroon and prevent entry of its vessels to EU ports. The decision is based on the persistent and serious shortcomings and lack of adequate control over the national fishing fleet, and Cameroon's failure to take corrective measures for the cessation and prevention of IUU fishing activities. Cameroon has continued to maintain the registration of at least one vessel known to engage in IUU fishing vessel.
4. The European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODnet), supported by the European Commission, launched its fully unified marine data service, integrating all the data into one single portal. This can provide rapid access to reliable and accurate data and information concerning threats to the marine environment, and to support the development of policies and legislation to protect vulnerable coastal and oceans regions. The portal is available to all marine data users, including policy makers, researchers, scientists, private industry and any interested party at: https://emodnet.ec.europa.eu/en
5. The EU published the regulation setting the 2023 fishing opportunities for certain fish stocks, in EU waters and for EU fishing vessels, in non-Union waters, as well as fixing for 2023 and 2024 fishing opportunities for deep-sea fish stocks. The EU also published the regulation setting the 2023 fishing opportunities for fish stocks in EU waters and vessels operating in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Some 2022 quotas are also amended. The Regulations brings into force the TACs and quotas agreed by EU fisheries ministers at the end of 2022.
6. The Commission has amended the technical measures for the management of the fishery for red seabream (Pagellus bogaraveo) in ICES subareas 6 to 8. New minimum conservation reference sizes are introduced for commercial and recreational fisheries, along with seasonal area closures.
7. The European Fisheries Control Agency (EFCA) has purchased and introduced three new patrol vessels to help strengthen fisheries inspection activities in European and international waters. The vessels will reinforce EFCA's operational capacity in the monitoring, control and surveillance of fisheries, in line with the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). They will be deployed primarily as fisheries patrol vessels to support the EU Member States in the various joint deployment plans across the EU sea basins, as well as within North Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) and North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) areas, and the Mediterranean under the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM). The vessels, Ocean Guardian, Ocean Protector and Ocean Sentinel, which all fly the Portuguese flag, will also support other coast guard functions including maritime surveillance and pollution response.
8. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2023, containing articles on Atlantic mackerel markets (in the Netherlands, Italy and Spain) and European anchovy (in France, Spain and Portugal).
9. EUMOFA hosted an online Talk "Cost of raw materials for fish processing and aquaculture" on 15 December 2022. It has now published a video of the event on YouTube.
10. EUMOFA has published the 2022 edition of its EU Blue Bioeconomy Report. This edition focuses on algae and seaweeds and offers an overview of latest developments of micro- and macroalgae cultivation systems in the EU and the world. It has a special focus on sargassum and shows how seaweed can capture carbon and can also transform regional economies. The report was prepared by EUMOFA following the November 2022 adoption by the Commission of the communication 'Towards a strong and sustainable EU algae sector'.
11. The Commission has adopted an evaluation report on the outcomes of the 5 year Western Mediterranean (WestMED) initiative in which five EU Member States (France, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Malta), and five southern partner countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia) worked together on their shared interest for the Mediterranean around three goals: increase maritime safety and security, promote sustainable blue economy, growth and jobs, and preserve ecosystems and biodiversity. The report finds that the WestMED initiative has proved to be a useful inter-governmental platform for promoting sustainable blue economy sectors across the Western Mediterranean. The initiative has served as a forum for dialogue and soft diplomacy, led to an increase in cooperation and partnerships, provided its members with project support (especially when applying for funding), enabled knowledge sharing and exchanges, set-up technical working groups and alliances (on green shipping, sustainable aquaculture and clusters) and broadened its cooperation with other Mediterranean countries The progress made is considered to justify the continuation of the progamme.
12. During January 2022 there were 32 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 8 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 5 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 16 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 6 consignments of oysters from France, 2 consignments of frozen tuna from Panama, 2 consignments of tuna from Sri Lanka, and 2 consignments of chilled breams from Tunisia.
13. DG SANTÉ conducted an audit (remote and on site) in Turkey to evaluate the effectiveness of the officials controls on bivalve molluscs intended for the EU and to verify the implementation and effectiveness of the guarantees and corrective actions proposed by Turkish authorities based on previous audit reports. Despite certain progress achieved regarding sanitary surveys and laboratories, the audit revealed significant weaknesses in biotoxin testing and potential misclassification of production areas due to insufficient investigation of unsatisfactory microbiological findings. Significant shortcomings were also detected on site, at structural and operational level of establishments, raising further concerns over the ability of the authorities to recognise weaknesses during the systematic official inspections of processing establishments, and the capacity to enforce EU requirements. A new set of recommendations were delivered to Turkish competent authorities to address the shortcomings identified.
14. Based on sampling years 2011-2021, EFSA assessed the risks to health of seaweed and halophyte consumption in European adult consumers, taking into account the dietary exposure to heavy metals and the iodine intake. Halophytes, seaweeds and seaweed-related products were identified as important contributors to exposure when compared to estimates from previous dietary exposure assessments via the whole diet. For mercury, the current contribution of seaweeds to exposure seems overall small as compared to the other compounds under assessment, although there is the need for more data as the toxicity rates varies greatly with species. The study concluded that the impact of a future increase in seaweed consumption ('per capita') on the dietary exposure to heavy metals or on the intake of iodine will strongly depend on the type of seaweeds consumed.
15. The European Food Safety Authority launched a new podcast "Science on the menu" overing topical food safety questions from a consumer point of view. The first edition addresses concerns of European consumers when it comes to food purchases, as well as insights from the 2022 Eurobarometer study on food safety in the EU. In subsequent episodes, EFSA takes a closer look at food-borne diseases, insects as novel food, and animal welfare during transportation.
16. The EU's monthly Food Fraud newsletter reported that Italian authorities seized several consignments comprising over 100 tonnes of fish because of non-compliances found in the traceability documentation, as well as 1 ton of fish illegally caught in a protected area.
17. Supported by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the FRESQO project published the development of a prototype of an automated tool that aims to improve the process of freshness evaluation of fish. Four research organisations developed a system which uses imaging sensors and artificial intelligence to quickly check the quality remotely without the need to be in direct contact with the fish. A start-up company has taken on the task of commercialising the new tool.
18. DG MARE issued a press release on the successful results of an EU funded project implemented by the Polytechnic University of Leiria, Portugal to investigate replacing single-use plastic film with algae-based biodegradable edible film. The new packaging film comes from the sea and is based on bioactive seaweed extracts and edible algae. It helps to conserve frozen seafood for longer while maintaining the quality. The project delivers on EU objectives of fighting plastic pollution, reducing food waste, and boosting the algae sector.
19. DG MARE issued a press release on the successful results of an EU funded project implemented by the R&D team of Algama SAS in partnership with joint venture SEAFOOD REBOOT. The partners have developed a seafood analogue based on alternatives to smoked salmon, canned tuna, tarama spread and fish roes. The partners are now working on industrial scale up and marketing strategy
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