Key developments in EU fisheries policy in August 2010

September 2, 2010 15:56

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

1.      Commission defines exemption procedure for EU trade ban on seal products, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Megapesca.com.
2.      Commission introduces real-time closures of North Sea demersal fisheries
3.      EU specifies additional quotas for EU vessels in Norway, North Sea and NAFO
4.      Commission increase some 2010 quotas, due to underutilisation in 2009
5.      Commission expresses "grave concern" at Faroe Islands unilateral mackerel quota
6.      Stop fishing notice for Spanish vessels fishing for blue ling
7.      Commission compensate Mauritanian Government for fisheries access; EUR64 million
8.      Czech Republic introduces state aids for aquaculture
9.      Commission publishes results of joint industry-scientific studies
10.     Commission publishes new videos on integrated maritime strategy

Fish Hygiene

11.     In August 2010, the Commission published 47 rapid alert notices for fishery products.
12.     DG SANCO reports on mission to Romania; major deficiencies
13.     DG SANCO reports on mission to Senegal; not equivalent with EU requirements
14.     DG SANCO reports on "Better Training for Safer Food" 2009
15.     Commission allows dimethyl ether as an extraction solvent for use in human foods

Common fisheries policy

1.      The Commission has passed a regulation setting rules for the certification of exempted products under the EU's ban on the import of seal products from third countries, as contained in Regulation (EC) No 1007/2009. The regulation establishes an attestation system for certification of seal products from hunts traditionally conducted by Inuit and other indigenous communities, and which contribute to their subsistence.

2.      The Commission has passed a regulation setting out the procedures to be followed for the implementation of real-time closures of the trawl and line fisheries for cod, haddock, saithe and whiting fisheries in the North Sea and Skagerrak. It requires Member States to prohibit fishing when juvenile fish comprise more than 15 % by weight of the catch (10% if more than 75% by weight is cod). It defines juveniles (by size) and indicates how closure areas are to be defined.

3.      The EU has amended the 2010 TACs and quota regulation to account for additional cod quotas available in Norway, additional whiting and plaice resources in the North Sea, and the reopening of cod and redfish fisheries in NAFO zone. Bluefin tuna quotas were reduced, amongst other amendments.

4.      The Commission passed a regulation increasing 2010 quotas for a number of fish stocks, following requests from Member States to transfer up to 10% of the quotas allocated to 2009.

5.      The European Commission issued a press release expressing "grave concern" at the unilateral mackerel quota of 85,000 tonnes set by Faeroe Islands for 2010. This is three times the level of Faeroese quota allocated under the multilateral management arrangements between the EU, Norway and Faeroe Islands in force from 1999 to 2009.

6.      The Commission published a stop fishing notice for Spanish vessels establishing a prohibition of fishing for blue ling in EU waters and international waters of VI, VII effective 22 August 2010.

7.      The Commission transferred EUR 64 million to the Government of Mauritania, as compensation for fisheries access to the Mauritanian zone by EU vessels, under he terms of the EC's Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with Mauritania. The amount includes EUR 55 million for the cost of access and budgetary support of EUR 9 million in support of Mauritania's fisheries sector.

8.      The Czech Republic notified the Commission of its provision of state aid for of aquaculture activities, including financial support for measures for protection and improvement of the environment, natural resources and genetic diversity, and upkeep of the landscape and the traditional characteristics of aquaculture zones. It will also provide compensation for the losses incurred by fishery businesses in connection with their obligation to maintain the functions of lakes as water-management tools.

9.      The Commission published the results of four studies involving joint industry-scientific research projects. Studies were conducted on brown crab (Cancer pagurus), fishery information systems for demersal fisheries in the Celtic Sea and western Channel, electronic logbook trial in the Basque trawling fishery and the Portuguese artisanal deep-water longline fishery. The studies provide data additional to the EU Data Collection Framework, and support the work of the RACs.

10.     The Commission has posted new videos online, describing elements of its integrated maritime strategy. They include the titles: "Integrated Maritime Surveillance", "Maritime Spatial Planning" and "An Integrated Maritime Policy".

Fish Hygiene

11.     In August 2010, the Commission issued rapid alert notices for failure to comply with health conditions in respect of 7 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 7 consignments of cephalopods, 4 consignments of crustacean, and 31 consignments of other fishery products. They included live clams, mussels from Italy, squid, cuttlefish and octopus from Ghana, peeled frozen raw black tiger prawns from India, and chilled swordfish from Malta.

12.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Romania in March 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The mission found that there were severe deficiencies in the official controls covering mainly: the lack of registration and inspection of fishing vessels; unsatisfactory sanitary conditions in fresh fish collection centres; lack of an approval system; unsatisfactory sanitary conditions of some approved processing establishments (mainly due to hygiene conditions and HACCP programme); unsatisfactory monitoring of  histamine; lack of monitoring arrangements for the chemical contaminants in fishery products; and lack of powers of the official veterinarians performing the inspections. The Competent authority (the Bureau of Veterinary Hygiene and Epidemiology) was found to be incapable of enforcing the legal provisions and could not impose sanctions. It was concluded that the system of official controls of fishery products shows major deficiencies which need to be addressed urgently.

13.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Senegal in April 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products. The mission found that there were some improvements since a previous mission in 2007, but many shortcomings were still evident. In particular, there was no inspection and control of small scale fishing vessels providing fish for the EU supply chain, conditions at landing and first sale were found to be unsanitary, and not subject to regular inspection. Several non-compliances were detected in freezer vessels and processing establishments, particularly in terms traceability and HACCP plans. The official control system in place could not be considered to be equivalent with European legislation, although the impact of the shortcomings is lessened by the fact that most products exported to Europe are whole, refrigerated or frozen fish, cephalopods and prawns. The Competent Authority (the Ministère de l'Economie Maritime, Direction des Industries de Transformation de la Pêche) was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions to be approved by the Commission.

14.     The DG SANCO programme "Better Training for Safer Food" published its Annual Report for 2009. The initiative provided training on around 20 different subjects related to food and feed law, animal health and welfare rules and plant health rules. In 2009 financial and administrative competence for the BTSF programme was transferred to the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC), with the Commission Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) retaining its guiding policy role. BTSF also launched a specific programme targeted at Africa, and mapped out a long-term strategy for meeting demand for EU and third country-level training in the relevant areas.

15.     The Commission passed a ruling allowing the use of dimethyl ether as an extraction solvent to remove fat from animal protein supplements used in human foods. It established the maximum residue limit for dimethyl ether of 9 μg/kg of extracted animal proteins, in line with the recommendations of the European Food safety Authority.

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