FishFilesLite Newsletter
September 2023

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Common Fisheries Policy

1. EU prepares to ratify the UN "High Seas" Treaty"
2. EU issues "IUU red card" to Trinidad and Tobago
3. EU Parliament asks Commission to check on IUU fishing by Chinese vessels
4. EU Fisheries Ministers prepare for fisheries consultations with Norway and UK.
5. EU amends management plan for bluefin tuna; emergency measures eased
6. NAFO meeting; shrimp fisheries remain closed; other measures maintained
7. EU used UN/FLUX standard for communicating fisheries data with NEAFC
8. EU Parliament publishes study on fisheries decarbonisation & circular economy
9. 'Our Baltic' Conference: Commission promises action on dumped munitions
10. EUMOFA publishes articles on eel and European Perch
11. EU's food policy summarised; features marine and freshwater aquaculture
12. Commission launches new promotional campaign for fish and aquaculture products
13. Arrangements clarified for EU authorised imports via UK into Northern Ireland
14. European Parliament holds public hearing on fisheries and aquaculture for rural areas

Fish Hygiene

15. Rapid alerts were notified for 34 consignments of fishery products
16. DG SANTÉ publishes audit fishery products in Belgium
17. DG SANTÉ publishes remote assessment on Fijian controls in EU fish exports
18. DG SANTÉ publishes remote assessment on Kiribati controls in EU fish exports
19. EU Food Fraud Newsletter; 12% of labels in Australian found to be erroneous

Common Fisheries Policy

1. Following the adoption by the UN of the of the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (the UN "High Seas" Treaty"), the EU has authorised the signature of the Agreement on behalf of the European Union. The agreement will provide for the establishment of marine protected areas in international waters.

2. The European Commission issued an "IUU red card" naming Trinidad and Tobago as a non-cooperating country in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. The decision follows years of lack of progress in addressing the serious shortcomings in the control of the country's vessels, first notified in 2016. Trinidad and Tobago has not enacted an adequate legal framework to regulate the activities of its fishing vessels nor the activities of third countries' fishing vessels in national ports. There is also lack of adequate control over the national and foreign fishing fleets, and insufficient measures for the cessation and prevention of IUU fishing activities.

3. Following concerns expressed by EU governments and non-governmental organisations which connect IUU fishing to vessels with a Chinese flag, members on the EU Parliament's Committee on Fisheries requested that the Commission should act to stop the use of flags of convenience, improve the systems used to identify vessels engaged in IUU fishing, apply more effectively EU law on traceability and reporting of catches, and provide more information on products caught by Chinese vessels entering the EU market.

4. At the September meeting of the Agriculture and Fisheries Council, EU Fisheries Ministers debated the annual fisheries consultations for 2024 and in particular exchanged views on the management of shared fishing stocks with the United Kingdom, which are the subject to annual bilateral negotiations. Following the UK's withdrawal from the EU, consultations between the EU and the UK on shared fish stocks are held annually, in line with the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Ministers also exchanged views on the annual consultations with Norway, which have undergone major changes since Brexit, with six stocks being managed trilaterally by the EU, Norway and the UK.

5. The EU adopted an amendment to the regulations defining the multiannual management plan for bluefin tuna in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. The Management Plan follows the advice of the ICCAT's Standing Committee on Research and Statistics following evidence that the current status of the stock no longer appears to require the emergency measures introduced under the 2018 recovery plan.

6. The 45th Annual Meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) took place in Vigo, Spain, from 18 to 22 September 2023. The focus of the meeting was the sustainable management of the key fish stocks in the Northwest Atlantic and maintaining a reasonable predictability for the fisheries industry. Northern shrimp stocks have not improved enough to allow a reopening of the fishery for in the Flemish Cap and in the Grand Bank, and these fisheries therefore remain closed. Greenland halibut opportunities were maintained at the same level, and temporary and spatial closure of the cod fishery were prolonged for an additional year.

7. The EU informed the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) that it will start using the modern UN/FLUX standard for sending them electronic logbook data. The UN/FLUX standard, developed by the EU and officially recognised by the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT), harmonises the exchanges of fisheries control data internationally and is already used in the EU. This represents is the first time this new global standard will be used for data sharing between a Contracting Party, the EU, and a Regional Fisheries Management Organisation. The harmonisation of data exchange formats reduces costs, and make fisheries control more efficient and accessible to public authorities.

8. The Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies of the EU Parliament published the first of three studies presented at a workshop held on behalf of the Fisheries Committee on the subject of "The European Green Deal - Challenges and opportunities for EU fisheries and aquaculture". The first study: "Decarbonisation & circular economy aspects for fisheries" identifies solutions that are currently being applied regarding decarbonisation and circular economy practices in fisheries and observed strengths and weaknesses of the regulatory framework. It provides policy recommendations to move towards the decarbonisation of the fishing fleets and a circular economy in European fisheries.

9. Commissioner Sinkevi?ius Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries hosted a second edition of the 'Our Baltic' Conference to address environmental challenges in the Baltic Sea. The conference gathered ministers and high-level officials in charge of fisheries, agriculture, and environment from eight EU Baltic countries (Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Sweden) to discuss short to medium-term actions to improve the Baltic ecosystem and the state of fish stocks. The EU and Member States committed to safeguarding the delicate marine ecosystem of the Baltic Sea. The Commission allocated a budget of EUR2 million aiming to identify key geographical areas at risk, and to conduct appropriate risk assessments and will issue an open call for proposals. The parties also agreed to act with regard to removal of submerged munitions that lie on the Baltic seabed since World Wars I and II.

10. The European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products published its latest edition of August 2023, containing articles on European eel (in France, Italy and Portugal) and European Perch (in Estonia, Germany, Sweden). It also contains a case study on Fisheries and Aquaculture in India and Warmwater shrimps in the EU.

11. The Commission published a summary of EU's food policy, including a strategic focus on sustainable, resilient and competitive marine and freshwater aquaculture sector in the EU.

12. The Commission launched a new promotional campaign for seafood. The #TasteTheOcean campaign will target 9 EU countries during October 2023 with media events to promote recipes, under-utilised species and local, seasonal products from wild fisheries or aquaculture. The Campaign focuses on Austria, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

13. The Commission adopted an implementing regulation providing for the listing of the flag States of the fishing vessel catching fishery products that may enter into Northern Ireland as retail goods from other parts of the United Kingdom and be placed on the market in Northern Ireland. This allows the entry into Northern Ireland of fishery products via UK from countries which are permitted to also to supply the EU market.

14. The Committee on Fisheries of the European Parliament held a public hearing with the objective of hearing stakeholders' views on "The importance of fisheries and aquaculture for rural areas". Speakers from diverse backgrounds, such as fishers, scientists or representatives of fisheries' associations, discussed relevant aspects of fisheries and aquaculture when operating in remote and rural areas.

Fish Hygiene

15. During September 2022 there were 34 rapid alert notifications for fishery products. There were 5 rapid alert notifications for bivalve mollusc products, 3 rapid alert notifications for cephalopod products, 6 rapid alert notifications for crustacean products, 20 rapid alert notifications for other fishery products and no rapid alert notifications for gastropod products. These included 4 consignments of shrimp from Ecuador and 3 consignments of tuna from Spain.

16. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission published a report of an audit of the performance of food safety controls in Belgium for the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The audit found that some practices of the Competent Authority undermined the effectiveness and reliability of the official control system. In particular, where several operators used the same establishment, the CA allowed unapproved operators to use that establishment under the approval of another operator. Approval was also granted to factory vessels without the operators demonstrating compliance with HACCP requirements (such as cooking ready to eat shrimp onboard). Neither were any controls at all applied to Belgian vessels landing in other Member States. A number of food safety issues were also detected including mixing lots of live lobsters, stacking of boxes on the floor, and use of non-authorised histamine testing methods. The Competent Authority, the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain was asked to address the deficiencies identified.

17. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission published a report of a remote assessment conducted in 2022/2023 of the performance of food safety controls by Fiji for the production and placing of fishery products on the EU market. The mission found that, for the most part, the legal framework, competent authority structure and legal powers allowed the implementation of a control system in line with the EU model official certificates issued for export of fishery products to the EU. However, a number of deficiencies were noted, which undermine the validity of the certificate issued. National regulations are not aligned with the EU rules with respect to the permitted use for non-canning purposes of fish frozen in brine (at -9șC) and compliance limits for histamine. The monitoring plan adopted by the CA was not correctly implemented with regard to freshness indicators, histamine, parasite and microbiological checks. The Competent Authority, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services was required to submit and guarantee implementation of a plan of corrective action, subsequently approved by the Commission.

18. DG SANTÉ of the European Commission published a report of a remote assessment conducted in 2023 of the performance of food safety controls by the Kiribati Competent Authority for the production and placing of fishery products on the EU market. The assessment identified that the frequency of audits (of both establishments and vessels) and the lack of official sampling and testing were insufficient to ensure effective control. Certain rules (e.g. in relation to the design and operation of freezer vessels) were not aligned with the EU rules. In particular the CA permits whole fish initially frozen in brine, and subsequently frozen at a temperature of -18°C or below, to be used for purposes other than canning. Any impact on the effectiveness of the controls was mitigated by the absence of exports from Kiribati operators during the recent period. However the Commission recommended a number of corrective actions to be addressed by the Kiribati competent authorities, the Kiribati Seafood Verification Agency.

19. The EU published the August Edition of the Food Fraud Newsletter. Details are provided concerning incidents of fraud in: Australia; 12% of labels from 672 seafood products (hoki, prawns, sharks and rays, snapper, squid and cuttlefish, and tuna) found to be incorrect: Russia; illegal exports of 3 000 tons of live crab to Japan, China and South Korea (total value of 24 700 Euros): Cambodia; 14 tons of meat and fish without legal labels or valid import documentation were seized.


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