Key developments in EU fisheries policy in June 2011

July 4, 2011 10:11

Within the framework of the common fisheries policy the following developments have taken place:

Common Fisheries Policy

  1. The Press release from DG MARE of the European Commission following recent publication of two reports which highlight the need for structural changes to the EU fishery sector. The 2010 Annual Economic Report on the EU fishing fleet shows a reduction in economic performance of the EU fishing sector in recent years. In particular vessels with trawl and beam trawls struggle to remain profitable. Another report on the Member States' efforts during 2009 to achieve a sustainable balance between fishing capacity and fishing opportunities has shown that fishing capacity continues to fall only at a very slow rate. The Commission says that these show the need for deep reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.
  2. At the Conference "No fish left on the plate - why a radical reform of the Common Fisheries Policy is needed" organised by Fish of the Future Group, Mrs. Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries outlined the findings from a modelling exercise conducted to study the impact of different reform scenarios on EU fisheries by 2022. Under best case assumptions on the scenario of the current path, only 9% of the EU fish stocks would be exploited sustainably and fleet size would shrink by 15% with the associated loss of employment and social impacts. She calls for a "move away from half-measures, and last-minute crises management toward a long-term, proactive CFP".
  3. The European Parliament held a public hearing on "Traceability of fish products in the EU market: rules of origin and labelling", at which the Commission and MEPs discussed the new traceability rules introduced in 2010 as part of the EU's fisheries control and enforcement policy allow detecting infringements at any stage of the supply chain.
  4. Text of the speech presented by Mrs. Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries at the above traceability event hosted by the European Parliament. She spoke of the value of molecular testing to identify origin and species of fish, and emphasised the role of traceability in ensuring that products of IUU fishing can be identified and action taken at all stages of the supply chain. The value of the methods in preventing fraud, mis-labelling and ensuring food safety are also recognised. She indicated that the imminent reform of the Common Market Organisation for fishery products will address the need for improved traceability in the fish supply chain. Proposed measures will include requirement for more detailed origin labelling (beyond FAO areas). She also praised voluntary certification of sustainability as a powerful market-driven tool to transition to sustainable fish production worldwide.
  5. The EU has published a report on the feasibility of the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture products, with the objective of giving stakeholders, administrations and researchers a better understanding of the European fisheries markets at the local and international levels. The Observatory will provide "Market intelligence support" on fishery and aquaculture products all along the supply chain stages (first sale, wholesale, import/export, processing, consumption) in the 27 EU Member States plus Iceland and Norway. The study maps out the sources and quality of data on prices/volumes/trade in fishery products placed on the European market.
  6. The European Commission has decided to extend the derogations of the rules of origin in relation to tuna products exported to the EU from Mauritius, Seychelles and Madagascar, due to ongoing lower than usual catch levels and the reduction in fishing activities related to piracy in the Indian Ocean. The measure grants tariff quotas of 3000 tonnes of canned tuna and 600 tonnes of tuna loins to each country. The measure is extended to the end of 2011 pending the expected signature of the Interim Economic Partnership Agreement between the Eastern and Southern Africa States and the EU, which grants an automatic derogation to the rules of origin. The ESA states have unilateral political declaration committing to renouncing the derogation should the EPA be signed in 2011.
  7. Mrs. Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech to EU Fisheries Ministers, presenting the Commissions Communication on 2012 fishing TACs and quotas. She pointed out that too many stocks are still overfished, and too many stocks are being fished in ignorance of their biological state. She indicated that lack of scientific knowledge should no longer be considered as a justification for the status quo. At the same time 30% to 40% of fishing fleets are making insufficient Money for to be economically sustainable. She called for renewed efforts to reach Maximum Sustainable Yields on fish stocks by 2015, by linking decisions more closely to scientific advice and reduce fishing of stocks by 25% where the advice is not available (applying the precautionary approach).
  8. The Commission pass a regulation to close the bluefin tuna fishery to Spanish purse seiners in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic on 9 June 2011 due to the exhaustion of their quotas.
  9. Regulation extending the temporary technical measures to protect fish stocks, including mesh size limits, spatial limits to fishing, permitted fishing gears etc. The measures are extended in the expectation that a new legislative framework will apply as from 1 January 2013, following the reform of the CFP in 2012. Since boarfish is now a quota species, mesh size and catch restriction are also applied to towed gears fishing for this species.
  10. Stop fishing notice has been published by the Commission due to exhaustion of quota by German vessels fishing for black scabbardfish in EU and international waters of V, VI, VII and XII., any Member State, except Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland vessels fishing for northern prawn in the NAFO 3L., German vessels fishing for cod in NAFO 3M waters and German vessels fishing for redfish in NAFO 3LN waters.
  11. The European Union has initialled a new Protocol to the fisheries agreement with Guinea Bissau, which maintains the conditions of the present Protocol i.e. fishing possibilities for 4,400 GRT for shrimp trawlers, 4,400 GRT (gross register tonnage) for fin-fish and cephalopod trawlers, 23 tuna seiners and longliners, and 14 pole-and-line vessels. The EU financial counterpart amounts to 4,550,000 EUR for the right to fish and 2,950,000 EUR for the support of the fisheries sector in Guinea Bissau. A new clause was added to allow for the suspension of the protocol if there is a breach of human rights and democratic principles. This fisheries agreement allows vessels mainly from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece and France to fish in the Guinea-Bissau waters. The duration of the Protocol is for only one year since negotiations were delayed by the consultations held in 2011 between the EU and Guinea Bissau under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement. The Parties expect to have a new protocol negotiated by March 2012
  12. The Commission and the Government of Mozambique have initialled a new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement to come into force from I January 2012. The Protocol will provide a reduced reference tonnage of 8,000 tonnes/year of highly migratory species (due to the impact of piracy on EU fleet activities in the region). However, the financial contribution paid by the EU has increased from EUR900,000 to EUR980,000/year, due to a substantial increase in the financial support for implementation of a sustainable fisheries policy. Fishing possibilities will be offered for a total of 75 vessels, comprising 43 purse seine vessels and 32 surface longliners
  13. EU Fisheries Ministers met in Luxembourg and discussed the approach to the setting of TACs and quotas in 2012, following the Commission's Communication proposing a renewed effort to manage fishing effort in the short term to ensure Maximum Sustainable Yields are achieved by 2015. The Council considers that the approach should account the specificity of each stock and the socio-economic aspects. The Ministers also discussed the lack of progress in establishing agreements with Iceland and Faroe Islands regarding the fishing of mackerel in the Atlantic. This is likely to result in catches approaching 1,000,000 tonnes (against a scientifically advised TAC of 646,000 tonnes). Some EU Member States have proposed sanctions against Iceland and Faroe Islands.
  14. In a speech to the Baltic Academy of Fishery Fleet Kaliningrad, Mrs. Maria Damanaki European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries spoke on the need for ensuring fleet capacity is in line with resources, and how neighbouring States (in this case the EU and Russia) need to collaborate on fisheries management of shared and straddling stocks, especially in the case of the Baltic Sea, but also citing the Arctic as a future area for collaboration.
  15. The Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE) of the European Commission published the report of a study commissioned to evaluate DG MARE's external communication activities in the areas of Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and Integrated Maritime Policy (IMP). The study, which was an interim evaluation, found that DG MARE communication fails to have a clearly structured and prioritised strategy framework that appropriately addresses the information needs of target audiences. It also concluded that a large proportion of the target audience (grass-root stakeholders as well as the general public) is excluded from the communication activities. FINAL REPORT Interim evaluation of DG MARE external communication activities. Available at

Fish Hygiene

  1. Rapid alerts were notified by the Commission in respect of failure to comply with health conditions for 3 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 3 consignments of cephalopods, 6 consignments of crustaceans, and 38 consignments of fish and fish products, including  clams, bivalve molluscs and chilled dog cockle from France, chilled and frozen squid from Argentina, 5 consignments of shrimps from Mozambique, 5 consignments of swordfish loins from Chile and 1 consignment of cultured caviar from China.
  2. Report on a mission by the Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO to Argentina in November 2010, with regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products and bivalve molluscs (scallop adductor muscle) exported to the EU and to follow up on a previous mission in 2007. The mission found that in general the control system offered sufficient guarantees concerning the sanitary conditions of fishery products. However a number of deficiencies were observed with regard to supervision of official controls, the monitoring arrangements for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins, the use of additives and the information disclosed. In addition two establishments were found with major deficiencies which had been identified, but no enforcement measures had been taken. Deficiencies were found in implementation of HACCP principles (such as incorrect hazard identification, inadequate risk analysis, non use of a logical approach to define the critical control points) but these were regarded only as minor deficiencies by DG SANCO. The Competent Authority (SENASA - Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries was requested to guarantee the implementation of a plan of corrective actions agreed with the Commission
  3. Report on a mission by the Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO to Colombia in March 2011, with regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products exported to the EU and to follow up on a previous mission in 2006. The mission found that there we some improvements in the system of official control but that not all of the recommendations of the previous mission were implemented. There were in effective controls on sanitary origin of imported raw material. The mission found unsatisfactory hygiene conditions during the unloading operations of freezer vessels. Two tuna canneries visited presented deficiencies in hygiene (including incorrect temperature of frozen storage). Heavy metal testing in official laboratories was not accredited, and histamine testing used a non-official method. The Competent Authority (Instituto Nacional deVigilancia de Medicamentos y Alimentos (INVIMA) under the Ministry of Social Protection) was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions
  4. Report on a mission by the Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO to Seychelles in March 2011, with regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products exported to the EU and to follow up on a previous mission in 2006. In general the mission found that the Competent Authority (the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Unit (FIQCU) within the Seychelles Bureau of Standards) is able in general to offer adequate guarantees concerning the quality of the fishery products exported to the EU. However a number of deficiencies were identified concerning the official supervision of the primary production, deficiencies in the EU listed facilities (establishments and freezer vessels), the monitoring of contaminants, and in the capacity for testing for histamine and heavy metals. The Competent Authority was requested to issue guarantees that corrective actions would be implemented.
  5. The European Commission has published its comments on the items considered in the CODEX COMMITTEE on Fish and fishery products held in Troms?, Norway in April 2011. The matters covered included consideration of added water in the Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products, Working Group on Food Additives, Draft Standard for Quick Frozen Scallop Adductor Muscle Meat and Procedure for the Inclusion of Additional Species in Standards for Fish and Fishery Products.
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