Developments in EU Common fisheries policy in March 2013

April 3, 2013 11:51

In March 2013 there were a number of important developments in EU Common fisheries policy, reports with reference to FishLites.

1.      At a meeting of Agriculture and Fisheries Committees of National Parliaments from EU Member States held in Dublin, Mrs.Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries outlined the current situation with the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. The EU's Council of Ministers has now agreed a general Approach that includes sustainable fishing by respecting the MSY principle, cessation of discarding and strengthening powers of Regional Advisory Councils to take fisheries management decisions. The European Parliament has endorsed these reforms by a significant majority, and has also endorsed proposals for new external policy and market and labelling policy. The final stages of reform are still to be completed which are to complete the detailed legal measures to implement the political agreements made.

2.      At a meeting of the CITES member States held in Bangkok, five commercially valuable shark species were added to the list of species in Appendix II. These were the oceanic whitetip (Carcharhinus longimanus), scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrma lewini), great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran), smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zigaena) and the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus). From now onwards, they will have to be traded with CITES permits and evidence will have to be provided that they are harvested sustainably and legally. Ireland, on behalf of the European Union Member States and Croatia, presented the proposal for the listing of porbeagle shark and announced an implementation package of EUR 1.2 million to assist developing countries in implementation these new CITES listings. The European Commissioners for Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and Environment welcomed the decisions.

3.      The European Council approved amendments to 2012 and 2013 fishing quotas for EU Member States following quota swaps concluded for fishing in the NAFO region, finalization of exchange of fishing opportunities with Norway and new scientific advice on sandeel, the fishery for which opens on 1st April 2013.

4.      The Commission announced that following a detailed investigation, Spain is to pay back a total of 65,429 tonnes of mackerel which it caught in excess of allocated quotas during 2009. The Commission has agreed with the Spanish government that the pay back will be spread over 11 years (by 2023) in order to take into account "socio-economic aspects of the fishery in a balanced manner".

5.      The European Council and Parliament passed a Regulation extending transitional technical measures for fish conservation, pending the reform of the CFP and a decision on a new regulation, as well as setting new minimum landing and mesh sizes for the turbot fishery in the Black Sea, and other conservation measures implementing ICES and STECF recommendations.

6.      DG MARE of the European Commission launched a proposal (in the form of a draft directive) to improve the planning of maritime activities at sea and the management of coastal areas. The directive would require EU Member States to establish a common European framework for maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal management. The Commission published an information note, in the form of questions and answers on the proposed Directive. The Commission considers that cross-border co-operation on maritime spatial planning (MSP) and integrated coastal management (ICM) in EU marine regions and sub-regions is essential as marine ecosystems, fishing grounds, marine protected areas as well as maritime infrastructures, such as cables, pipelines, shipping lanes, oil, gas and wind installations, etc. run across national borders. Member States will therefore be required to draw up maritime spatial plans, which will map existing human activities and identify their most effective future spatial development at sea, and develop integrated coastal management strategies which will ensure coordinated management of these human activities in coastal areas. Commissioner Damanaki said that this would provide a new tool for the EU's Blue Growth Strategy.

7.      The European Fisheries Control Agency announced the publication of its 2012 annual report. The Agency continued to operate five Joint Deployment Plans: Cod fisheries in the North Sea and Western Waters, Cod and salmon fisheries in the Baltic Sea, Pelagic Fisheries in Western Waters, NAFO & NEAFC and Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean Sea and Eastern Atlantic Ocean, with a total of 9,000 inspections. The Agency coordinated and facilitated thirteen training courses for the training of trainers of national fisheries inspectors and Union inspectors. Electronic data recording and transmission was also strengthened with the enhancement of the EFCA Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), the development of the EFCA Electronic recording and Reporting System (ERS) and the definition of the EU Electronic Inspection Report (EIR). The proposed draft budget for 2014 is the same as the final budget for 2013: (EUR9,216,900).

8.      The Commission published a series of regulations setting out the intervention prices and levels of financial compensation for 2013 due to fishery business operators for quantities of certain fresh products withdrawn from the market (or if not withdrawn, stored, processed for uses other than human consumption, such as fishmeal, animal feed and bait). The regulation also sets the standard conversion factors for fishery products which may not be landed in whole form, and set the minimum import prices (known as reference prices) for certain imported fishery products.

9.      The Commission de-listed 12 previously recognized producer organisations in the fishery and aquaculture sector, and produced an updated list of recognised producer organisations, along with contact details.

10.     The Commission announced that it has held preliminary discussions with the Government of Seychelles regarding the renewal of the Protocol to the EU - Seychelles Fishing Partnership Agreement, which expires in January 2014. Ministers also adopted a decision authorising the Commission to open negotiations on behalf of the EU for a new protocol to the fisheries partnership agreement (FPA) with the Comoros. The existing Protocol will expire on 30 December 2013. The Ministers indicated that the new protocol should be in line with the 19 March 2012 Council conclusions on external dimension of the common fisheries policy.

11.     European Commissioner, Mrs.Maria Damanaki visited the Portuguese autonomous regions of Azores and Madeira where she met with officials of the Regional Governments and maritime stakeholders (fishing industry, maritime industry, NGOs, citizen's organisation, processors etc.) The agenda included Common Fisheries Policy reform, the new European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, and specific issues of local and regional interest.

12.     DG MARE of the European Commission has published edition 60 of its magazine Fisheries and Aquaculture in Europe, with articles reviewing the reform process, maritime spatial planning, the Adriatic Sea, 2013 TACS and national aquaculture plans.



13.     The Commission announced that European maritime day will be celebrated with a conference and workshops held on 21/22 May in Valletta, Malta. Themes of the conference will be "Coastal development and sustainable maritime tourism: an investment for blue growth" and "Connectivity for Blue Growth in Europe"

Fish hygiene

14.     Rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 17 consignments of bivalve molluscs and products thereof, two consignments of cephalopods, two consignments of crustaceans and 16 consignments of fish and fish products. These included 4 consignments of mussels with Escherichia coli from France, 5 consignments of clams  with norovirus from Turkey and 3 consignments each of tuna with carbon monoxide treatment and swordfish and shark with high mercury levels from Spain

15.     DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on the sanitary conditions for the export of fishery products from the Falkland Islands to the EU, following up on a previous mission in 2007 which found a number of areas where conditions could not be considered equivalent to those set out in EU legislation. The mission found that six of the nine recommendations of the previous audit were fully addressed and that two of the remainder were substantially dealt with. However controls regarding the use of non-EU listed reefer vessels were not adequately addressed. In addition the mission found that standards for HACCP, freshness indicators and histamine were not in line with EU legislation, implementation and controls on processing facilities did not follow written procedures (establishments with expired approvals were allowed to continue operations), and there were hygiene and HACCP deficiencies in some of the facilities visited (factory vessels and cold store). There were shortcomings in the certification procedures implemented by the CA which undermined the reliability of the export health controls. The report made of a number of recommendations and requested the Falklands Competent Authority, the Veterinary Services of the Department of Agriculture under the Directorate of Natural Resources, to submit a plan of corrective actions.

16.     DG SANCO Food and Veterinary Office reported on the sanitary conditions for the export of fishery products and bivalve molluscs from Turkey to the EU, following up on a previous mission in 2011 which found a number of areas where conditions could not be considered equivalent to those set out in EU legislation. The mission found that with respect to fishery products all of the issues raised had been addressed. These included amendment of legislation, training of inspectors and preparation of written procedures, introduction of new procedures for listing establishments, and extending the monitoring of fishery products to cover all parameters of concern. With regard to bivalve mollusc controls, the mission found that the EU requirements for the classification of production areas were not fulfilled as a sanitary survey and an adequate sampling programme had not been completed for each area, the fishery was kept open when sampling could not be implemented, and it took too long (12 days) to obtain a test result from the testing laboratory, samples from different points were mixed before sending to the laboratory, and the documented sampling frequency for biotoxins testing was not respected. Significant shortcomings were noted in the testing laboratories for shellfish biotoxins and microbiology (including use of methods other than EU reference tests), which undermine the reliability of official analyses. The report made of a number of recommendations and requested that the Turkish Competent Authority, the General Directorate of Food and Control, submit a plan of corrective actions.



17.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO announced its revised programme of audits for 2013. This now covers missions concerning fishery products and/or bivalve molluscs in EU Member States as follows: Czech Republic (combined with aquaculture animal health), Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Spain, Germany, Greece, Ireland and Portugal. Finland, Latvia and Sweden will also receive missions concerning dioxins in Baltic Sea fish. Missions in third country suppliers will take place to: China, Ecuador, Ghana, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Maldives, Papua New Guinea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Chile, Greenland, and New Zealand. One additional third country will be selected for a visit following a study of RASFF and other data regarding sanitary conditions.

18.     The European Commission has commented on the proposals for revision of the Codex standards covering radionucleides in foods, to be considered in Moscow in April 2013. The EU agrees with the conclusion of the expert Working Group that there is no need to change the current Guideline Levels into Maximum Levels and that a risk assessment is not needed. The EU considers that the guideline levels adopted in 2006 remain robust and agrees with the recommendation to maintain the current GLs, food categories and groups of radionuclides. The EU also supports the recommendation to discontinue the work on the revision of the GLs for radionuclides in food contaminants.

19.     The Commission announced that the UK has submitted documents declaring Northern Ireland as free of KHV disease (Koi herpesvirus, which affects cyprinid fishes).

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