1. EU to make counter-proposals for FAD management in Indian Ocean tuna fishery
2. EU adopts amendments to 2023 annual TACS and quotas regulation
3. Commission publishes report on the climate footprint of EU post-harvest fish value chains
4. Commission corrects exemption from the landing obligation for common sole
5. EUMOFA publishes articles on smelt, meagre, and sardine
6. Commission awards protected designation of origin to a Swedish smoked whitefish
7. European Blue Forum Launch event to be held in May 2023, Brest, France
8. EU Economic and Social Committee calls for a moratorium on seabed mining licences
9. EU-funded Blue Biotechnology Masters programme launched
10. DG MARE Ocean Calls Podcasts published on MPAs and ethics of salmon consumption
11. Rapid alerts were notified for 27 consignments of fishery products
12. DG SANTE publishes follow-up audit report of audit on Nicaragua; problems persist
13. EFSA study concludes that bisphenol A presents consumer health risks
14. EU fraud report identifies fish fraud in Mauritius, Italy and Portugal
15. Commission publishes pesticide monitoring programme; no fish products included.
1. The European Union will make four proposals at the next Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) session taking place from 8 to 12 May 2023, with a view to improving sustainability of over-exploited tuna stocks in the Indian Ocean. A multiannual plan for the management of tropical tunas would set catch limits. A new control plan would allow boarding and inspection of vessels in the high seas. New rules for the IOTC Compliance Committee would ensure that appropriate sanctions are applied. The EU will also seek to replace IOTC Resolution 23/02 which introduced a 72-day ban on purse seine fishing on drifting FADs. Several IOTC members have lodged an objection to that resolution, including the EU, the Comoros, Oman, Kenya, the Seychelles, and the Philippines. The EU proposes to replace the ban with strengthened controls on the number of FADs and improve their marking and recovery to limit plastic pollution.
2. The EU adopted some amendments to the annual TACS and quotas regulation, to account for a bilateral agreement with UK on setting the TAC for sandeel in the North Sea, new scientific advice from ICES for anchovy stocks 2023 allowing the setting of a definitive stock, the results of bilateral consultations with Norway on inter alia Northern prawn (Pandalus borealis) and whiting (Merlangius merlangus), and implementation into EU law of catch limits for yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares) agreed at the 2022 annual meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission.
3. The European Commission published a report financed by the EMFAF on the climate footprint of activities in the post-harvest value chains for fisheries and aquaculture products. The study, undertaken by a consortium of EU institutions and consultancies, found that processing activities associated with post-harvest value chains utilise a substantial amount of fossil fuel and water resources, producing high levels of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. The sector is also increasingly impacted by climate change events, which disrupt supplies and elevate costs. The sector has a high reliance on natural resources which reduces the industry's inherent resilience to climate change. It finds that greenhouse gas emissions from the sector are predominantly produced by the transportation of goods. However, energy use in refrigeration in retail and long-term frozen storage are other hot-spots in the emission profiles. The study recommends that the development of a coherent fresh fish market would allow for route optimisations, better local options, leading an ultimately more organised and less centralised market. It also suggests that technical measures to increase processing yields and create side-product streams, as well as climate and energy friendly transport systems, high-tech packaging materials, tapping renewable energy sources and reducing energy by heat recovery systems, are all currently being addressed as mitigation measures. Overall, the study concludes that research and stakeholder expertise, although already high, is still lacking in many aspects.
4. The Commission issued a correction to the survivability exemption from the landing obligation concerning the fishery for common sole (Solea solea) below the minimum conservation reference size caught in ICES division 7e by vessels under 12 m long and using otter bottom trawls, with a cod end mesh size larger than 80 mm. France had informed the Commission of an error introduced in the original regulation, concerning a lack of expression of mesh sizes and fish size limits.
5. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of 2023, containing articles on first sales in Europe of European smelt and meagre, consumption of sardine in France, Portugal, and Spain and case studies
on fisheries and aquaculture in the UK and brown crab in the EU
6. The Commission adopted an implementing regulation awarding a protected designation of origin to the product "Rokt Vattersik", a smoked whitefish from Lake Vättern, Sweden.
7. The European Commission announced that the European Blue Forum Launch event will be held on 26 May 2023 in Brest, France. The forum will consider questions such as "what does a fossil fuel free Sustainable Blue Economy look like?" and "are we asking too much of European Seas in the next decade?"
8. The European Economic and Social Committee offered an opinion on the Joint Communication of the Commission and Parliament on the EU's International Ocean Governance agenda "Setting the course for a sustainable blue planet." It considers that ocean governance should not be considered merely a 'marine affair', welcomes the designation of Marine Protected Areas, calls for financial deterrents to the use of flags of convenience, welcomes the 'zero tolerance' approach to IUU fishing and calls for a moratorium on the authorisation of mining licences by the International Seabed Authority (ISA).
9. The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced a new EU-funded Mundus Masters programme "Blue Biotechnology Master for a Blue Career" set up by a consortium comprising La Rochelle University, Catholic University of Valencia, the University of Stirling, CIIMAR, the Conference of Peripheral and Maritime Regions, and two industry partners, Valbiotis and Xanthella. The postgraduate program follows a curriculum aimed at empowering students with blue biotechnology skills and has an initial intake of 40.
10. The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries announced the latest edition of its Ocean Calls Podcast series which considers question: "Are Marine Protected Areas Working?" and "Should we eat wild or farmed Salmon?".
11. During April 2023 there were 27 rapid alert
notifications for fishery products. There were 5 rapid
alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products,
1 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.
Alerts included 3 consignments of oysters and 3 consignments
of hake from France, 3 consignments of shrimp from
Ecuador and 4 consignments of swordfish from Spain.
12. The Commission published a report of audit carried out in Nicaragua in November 2022 to assess the compliance of sanitary conditions applied to fishery products exported to the EU, and in particular to follow up on the recommendations of a previous audit conducted in 2020 which resulted in the suspension of exports and de-listing of several export establishments. The audit found that several recommendations concerning the export of lobsters had been implemented, but deficiencies were still evident in relation to ineffective controls over the use of sulphite additives in shrimps. Whilst laboratory testing facilities are available, the results are not available in time to permit correction of non-compliances. In addition, the audit noted deficiencies in establishments that had not been detected by the Competent Authority inspectors, who were considered to still have insufficient training. Even where serious uncorrected deficiencies were identified in some establishments, the Competent Authority maintained them in the list of authorised exporters. The Competent Authority, the Institute for Agricultural Protection and Health, was once again requested to provide a guarantee that an approved action plan would be implemented.
13. EFSA has re-evaluated the risk assessment on bisphenol A (BPA) based on 800 new studies published since January 2013. Their assessment finds that there is a health concern for consumers who are exposed across all age groups, and that this can have impacts on the human immune system, as well as affecting reproductive, developmental, and metabolic processes. BPA is used in plastics for the manufacture of water dispensers, various food storage containers and reusable beverage bottles. It is also used in epoxy resins used for protective coatings and linings for food cans and may migrate into the contents. The Commission will now consider what new risk management measures may be required.
14. The EU Food Fraud Newsletter for March 2023 indicated that the Mauritian authorities seized 3 tonnes of contraband fish. Italian authorities seized 3.6 tonnes of illegally fished seafood (including tuna) and 650 sea urchins without traceability documentation. Portuguese authorities also seized 8.5 tonnes of fresh and frozen octopus without traceability documentation.
15. The Commission has issued instructions for a coordinated multiannual control programme of the Union for 2024, 2025 and 2026 to ensure compliance with maximum residue levels of pesticides and to assess the consumer exposure to pesticide residues in and on food of plant and animal origin. The instruction follows EFSA's recommendations that a maximum residue level exceedance rate above 1 % could be estimated with a margin of error of 0,75 % by selecting 683 sample units for a minimum of 32 different products. On the basis of assessed risks, no aquaculture or fishery products are included.
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