FishFilesLite Newsletter
August 2023

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World Seafood Congress

Common Fisheries Policy

1. DG MARE overall evaluation of EU Fisheries Partnership Agreements
2. Commission to conduct regulatory impact assessment on shark fish ban
3. Commission reports on sustainability of deep-sea fisheries and vulnerable ecosystems
4. EU amends 2023 fishing quotas due to overfishing in previous years
5. Stop fishing notices issued for cod, undulate ray and Blue marlin
6. EU Economic and Social Committee calls for direct adoption of NAFO measures
7. EU-UK Specialised Committee on Fisheries agrees on quota swaps
8. DG MARE publicises case study on EMFAF support for sturgeon aquaculture
9. DG MARE studies feasibility of Intergovernmental Panel for Ocean Sustainability
10. Commission announces 1st EU Algae Awareness Summit in Paris

Fish Hygiene

11. Rapid alerts were notified for 41 consignments of fishery products
12. DG SANTÉ published a report on fish export control systems in Japan
13. Italian authorities uncover fraudulent tuna testing following histamine outbreak
14. EFSA characterises vectors/reservoirs for pathogens of fish, crustaceans, and molluscs

Common Fisheries Policy

1. DG MARE of the European Commission published an overall evaluation of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) between the EU and third countries, including an in-depth analysis of the sectoral support component of the SFPAs. The study found that between 2015 and 2020, an annual average of 211 EU fishing vessels flying the flag of thirteen EU Member States benefited from the Agreements. Partner third countries between 2015 and 2020 received an annual average of EUR 159 million, including EUR 126 million paid from the EU public budget (EUR 98 million as contribution for access and EUR 28 million as contribution for sectoral support) and EUR 33 million paid by the owners of the EU fishing vessels benefiting from the fishing opportunities available. About 90% of the EU contribution related to the multispecies SFPAs concluded with Guinea-Bissau, Greenland, Mauritania and Morocco. The overall conclusion of the evaluation is that SFPAs are fit for purpose in their contribution to the objectives. However, the study was critical of the existence of dormant SFPAs, and the limited implementation capacity of third countries to deliver multiannual development programmes and emphasised the need for stakeholders for improved transparency. The study also suggested that SFPAs should be conditional on a partner third country refraining from granting fishing authorisations to IUU fishing vessels of any registry.

2. The Commission published a Communication on the European Citizens' Initiative 'Stop Finning - Stop the Trade', following a petition calling for an end to trade in loose shark fins in the EU, including the import, export and transit of fins (other than if naturally attached to the animal's body). Spain is the main player among the EU Member States, both for imports and exports of fins, representing more than 99 % of total EU exports, around 96 % of these exports being frozen shark fins. Sale of fins is the main driver behind shark fishing, given their value in the Asian market. The Commission will launch, by the end of 2023, an impact assessment on the environmental, social and economic consequences of applying the 'fins naturally attached' policy to the placement on the market of sharks in the EU. It will also examine, by the end of 2023, the best legal approach to obtaining more detailed information to identify species of sharks and their respective products at import and export, with a view to entry into force by 1st January 2025 at the latest.

3. The Commission published a report on improving environmental sustainability of deep-sea fisheries with emphasis on the conservation of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). The report undertook a comparative analysis of conservation of VMEs and the management of deep-sea fisheries, reviewed best management practices and by-catch mitigation approaches, and identified gaps in research and priority scientific topics (by region).

4. The EU has amended the 2023 fishing quotas of some Member States since they exceeded their fishing quotas for the year 2022. The measure sets the deductions on the fishing quotas allocated to them in 2023 and, where relevant, in subsequent years, for the overfished stocks. The largest amounts deducted were due to overfishing of herring and blue whiting by Denmark.

5. Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by Spanish vessels fishing for cod and undulate ray and Portuguese vessels fishing for Blue marlin in the Atlantic ocean.

6. The European Economic and Social Committee published its views on the proposal for an amendment to NAFO conservation and enforcement measures. Whilst it agrees that the measures should be transposed into EU law, the Committee considers that delegated acts should be replaced with a regulation that contains a single article stipulating that the European Union must, without fail, apply NAFO measures to its fleet.

7. The EU-UK Specialised Committee on Fisheries (SCF) announced that it has reached three agreements for better management of shared fisheries resources between the EU and UK. These include: i) a mechanism for voluntary transfers of fishing opportunities between the EU and UK. The mechanism is based on the principles of the interim system for quota exchanges in place since 2021; ii) common guidelines for notifying management measures to the other party; iii) improvements to the management of four shared stocks (lemon sole, witch, turbot and brill) with a new framework for setting Total Allowable Catches (TACs) in line with ICES advice. Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius, said: "These agreements will… normalise our new fisheries relationship and set a strong basis for continued cooperation on shared management challenges."

8. The Commission's Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries published a news article showing how the EMFAF structural fund helped to upgrade a Beluga sturgeon aquaculture operation in Romania to introduce energy-efficient alternatives, photovoltaic panels and improve the breeding system to promote improved fish welfare.

9. The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries published a study on the feasibility of establishing an Intergovernmental Panel for Ocean Sustainability, with the aim of addressing the issue that ocean science, data and information is not being transmitted to decision-makers effectively or regularly enough and in a format that optimally serves evidence-based policies (in contrast with the more effective science-policy processes for climate and biodiversity). Thirty-five global ocean-related publications and assessments were reviewed, and a wide range of ocean governance policy makers were interviewed. The study found that pieces of ocean knowledge are fragmented and distributed across multiple assessments, leaving decision-makers without a clear compass with which to navigate the challenges. It found that engagement between scientists, policy makers and civil society stakeholders was mostly superficial and insufficient and there is an ongoing need for improved standardized indicators for ocean health and anthropogenic pressures. The study recommends means of improving governance at the science-policy interface, including an overarching theme of co-production of knowledge for sustainability, a nested multi-level approach, adopting a future thinking mind-set, and driving a societal narrative of knowledge to action.

10. The Commission announced that the 1st EU Algae Awareness Summit will be held at the Maison de l'Océan in Paris from 5 to 7 October. The objectives are to increase the social awareness of algae and algae-based products, boost demand for them, and spur the development of the EU algae sector. EU public sector representatives will join algae entrepreneurs, SMEs, start-ups, researchers, and academics. The two days will offer High-Level Panel Conversations, participatory group discussions, and an exhibition area showcasing innovative projects. On 7 October, the venue will open its doors to the public for an immersive day in the world of algae.

Fish Hygiene

11. During August 2022 there were 41 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 4 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 1 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 16 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 20 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 14 consignments of shrimp from Ecuador, contaminated with Vibrio cholerae.

12. DG SANTÉ published a report of a remote assessment of the control systems in place in Japan governing the production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union, in early 2023. The assessment found that although Japan has in place sound legal framework and robust competent authority structures with legal powers that allow the implementation of a control system as set out in the EU sanitary requirements for fishery products to the EU, some shortcomings were identified. Two CAs with overlapping responsibilities have been designated, giving rise to some communication and coordination issues between them (including in completion of the preliminary questionnaire). There was no requirement that laboratories carrying out official testing (other than residue monitoring) be accredited to ISO 17025 and wholesale markets from which fish for EU supply was obtained were subject to official approval of compliance with EU hygiene requirements. The two competent authorities, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare were requested to address the shortcomings.

13. The Italian authorities uncovered a criminal organisation adulterating defrosted yellowfin tuna (probably brine frozen for canning) with unsafe chemicals (nitrites and nitrates) for sale as fresh tuna for consumption raw. Several people were affected with histamine poisoning across the country since 2021. Eighteen people were detained in the province of Barletta-Andria-Trani, including a food safety consultancy company and a private laboratory in Avellino, responsible for analysing fish products. Suspects allegedly concealed unfavourable results of tests conducted on fish products and falsified certificates.

14. On request of the EU Commission the EFSA carried out an Extensive Literature Review to provide a newly published lists of vector species and reservoirs species of pathogens of fish, crustaceans, and molluscs, as listed in Annex II to the EU's Animal Health Law. In total 923 research publications were collected for abstract screening and from these 153 were selected for further full text analysis. In the final data collection and assessment 67 relevant research publications were used as sources of information. >


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