Developments in Common Fisheries Policy and Fish Hygiene in January 2013

February 4, 2013 17:11

In January there were several developments of importance in Common Fisheries Policy and Fish Hygiene as listed below, according to FishFiles.

1.      EU Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers meeting on January 28th, discussed the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform package. Whilst supporting the general objective of landing obligations (i.e. a discard ban) many favoured a gradual approach according to the specific features of the regions or the fisheries involved. Discard bans should be linked to the concept of regionalization of fisheries conservation measures. Ministers remained divided on the reform of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). Some members want to keep the historic level of subsidies, whilst others want stricter rules and criteria. Most support increased finance for aquaculture. Ministers also debated proposed new technical and control measures in the Skagerrak (including a discard ban and CCTV cameras onboard vessels). Ministers welcomed progress with the EU/Norway fisheries arrangements, and pressed the Commission to activate the ban on fish imports from Faroe Islands and Iceland, in retaliation for their unilateral setting of quotas for Atlantic mackerel. The Commission agreed to study the matter, but considered that the high level of total allowable catches (TACs) adopted by Norway and the EU could undermine the process of establishing trade sanctions.

2.      The EU and Norway concluded their negotiations regarding the TACS and quotas for shared stocks and exchange of quotas in the North Sea. There are increases in TACs for many of the important stocks compared to 2012, such as 15% for North Sea Haddock, 15% for North Sea Saithe, 11% for North Sea Whiting, 15% for North Sea Plaice, and 18% for North Sea Herring. The TAC for North Sea Cod was maintained at the same level as in 2012.

3.      Following the Agreement with Norway on shared stocks, the Council set the TACs and quotas for the EU Member States for 2013. The EU quota for mackerel in 2013 amounts to 336,285 tonnes. In view of catch limits set unilaterally by Iceland and the Faroe Islands, catches of Atlantic mackerel may exceed scientific recommendations in 2013.

4.      The European Parliament published its November 2012 resolution concerning the external dimension of the Common Fisheries Policy. It sets out the views of the Parliament on the bilateral fisheries relations, and the proposed Sustainable Fisheries Agreements. The motion supports the de-coupling of financial compensation for access to fisheries resources from sectoral support for development and insists that EU shipowners should pay a fair and market-based portion of the costs when acquiring access rights. It also supports the EU's role in strengthening regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). It states that the Common Fisheries Policy should promote corporate social responsibility in investments in non-EU fisheries by EU fishery business operators, and that information on private agreements made by EU operators with third countries, and catches thereunder, should be provided to their Member State. It also expresses impatience with the Commission for not adding vessels to the EU IUU list other than those listed by RFMOs. Parliament wants the Commission to be the Competent Authority for approval of third country vessels exporting directly to the EU. The Parliament also proposes suspending tariff preferences granted to third countries guilty of serious and systematic infringement of international rules under RFMOs or other agreements to which the EU is party.

5.      Stop fishing notices were published by the Commission due to exhaustion of 2012 quota by Dutch vessels fishing for haddock, Lithuanian vessels fishing for Greenland Halibut, Spanish vessels fishing for forkbeards, Dutch vessels fishing for turbot and brill, Portuguese vessels fishing for black scabbardfish, and German vessels fishing for sprat and herring.


6.      The EU Parliament decided to postpone for a second time their vote on fishing rules in EU waters. The intentional delay is in retaliation to the EU Member States in the Council blocking progress towards the introduction of multi-annual fisheries management plans. Under the Lisbon treaty, the EU Parliament is has co-decision powers with the Council on fisheries matters. The Parliament also proposed a relaxation of the Baltic cod management plan for small scale operators.

7.      The Economic and Social Committee of the European Parliament passed motions endorsing amendments to the existing fisheries regulation to give the Commission greater legislative powers to promulgate technical regulations. The proposals, if adopted by Parliament, will allow the Commission to regulate on the design and use of acoustic deterrent devices to protect against incidental catches of cetaceans in fisheries and to protect against the capture of juvenile fish.

8.      The European Commission announced that it has agreed with the Government of Cote d'Ivoire on the terms of a new Protocol to implement the Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The Protocol provides the EU with fishing opportunities for tuna and other highly migratory species, based on a reference tonnage of 6,500 tonnes. In return, the EU will pay Cote d’Ivoire an annual compensation of €680,000, out of which €257,500 is earmarked to support the fisheries policy.

9.      The Commission announced that it has undertaken a third round of negotiations on the financial aspects of a new Protocol of the Fisheries Agreement between EU and Morocco, which took place in Rabat on 15 and 16 January 2013. The parties agreed to consider an increase of fishing opportunities, and to revise the technical conditions for certain fishing categories, and to continue the negotiations in the coming weeks.

10.     The European Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries prepared a draft recommendation on the proposals for the conclusion of a new Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol with the Government of Mauritius. The agreement will provide fishing opportunities for 41 tuna seiners and 45 surface long liners, with an annual reference tonnage of 5,500 tonnes. The annual financial compensation proposed is EUR 660,000, of which EUR302,500 corresponds to a sum to support the Mauritius fisheries and maritime policy. The draft consents to the signature of the Agreement and Protocol, but calls on the Commission to share minutes of meetings with the Mauritius authorities and to keep Parliament informed of progress.

11.     The European Parliament published a study undertaken by consultants on the impacts of the derogation of the rules of origin on tuna imported from Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The derogation, granted under the 2009 interim Economic Partnership Agreement, allows "global sourcing" of tuna processed in these two countries to qualify for duty free access to the EU market, and was much criticized by EU tuna operators. The study found that there was a limited negative economic impact on the EU tuna processing industry. It also expressed substantial concerns regarding the state of the SW Pacific tuna stocks.

12.     Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech entitled "The Arctic: an EU Perspective" at the Arctic Frontiers Conference held in Tromso, Norway. She set out once again the strategic rationale for the EU to be engaged in the development of the Arctic region, including the EU's investment in research (EUR20 million/year), and in development funding of regional development (EUR1 billion). She described the EU's commitment to sustainable exploitation of Arctic mineral, energy and fishery resources. In particular she called for a regulatory framework for Arctic fish stocks not currently covered by current RFMOs. The eight-member Arctic Council will consider the EU's application for Permanent Observer status later in 2013.

13.     Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech on maritime piracy to the European Economic and Social Committee of the European Parliament. Although nearly three hundred attacks on ships were reported by the International Maritime Organization in 2012, this represents a five year low, suggesting that counter measures are being effective. However to ensure that the EU’s plans for the development of the blue economy are not undermined by the piracy threat, she called for continuation of the fight against piracy and the need to keep working on the root causes, including regional political instability.

14.     The European Commission called for project proposals under the 2012 annual work programme for the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy. Up to EUR400,000 is made available for relevant projects. More information is available from DG Mobility and Transport, of the European Commission (see

Fish hygiene

15.     Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for four consignments of bivalve molluscs and products thereof, two consignments of cephalopods, three consignments of crustaceans, 30 consignments of fish and fish products and one consignment of gastropods. These included chilled clams from Tunisia, frozen breaded pre-fried fish from Sweden, chilled tuna from Spain,  marlin and shark from Vietnam and  frozen sardine from Morocco.

16.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO of the European Commission published its 2013 visit programme for EU Member States and third countries. It will undertake missions with respect to fishery products in Czech Republish (including aquaculture), Germany (bivalve molluscs), Ireland (live bivalve molluscs), Greece (live bivalve molluscs), Spain, Lithuania and Latvia (including dioxins in Baltic Sea fish). Missions will also take place in the following third countries; Chile (including live bivalve molluscs), China (including live bivalve molluscs), Cote d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ghana, Greenland (including live bivalve molluscs), Indonesia, Kenya, Korea (aquaculture), Maldives, New Zealand (including live bivalve molluscs), Papua New Guinea, Russia, and Senegal. The document also indicated that the FVO will adopt a new risk-based approach in future, by focusing FVO missions only on the most relevant third countries, with desk studies to determine the priority of the remainder.

17.     The European Commission DG SANCO commented on the report of the September 2012 meeting of the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Standards Commission on the Aquatic Animal Health Code. A programme of work to further strengthen the Code and the associated Aquatic Manual have been proposed, which seeks to list and classify new diseases, strengthen and harmonise risk analysis procedures, and improve guidance on control measures for aquatic animal diseases. The EU supports many of the proposals, but disagrees with proposed changes to the criteria for listing of aquatic diseases. It also suggested some changes to the glossary and terminology.

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