Key developments in EU fisheries policy in December 2010

January 11, 2011 10:59

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

Common Fisheries Policy

1.      The EU agrees on 2011 TACs and quotas for the Atlantic, Channel and North Sea, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Megapesca.com.
2.      The EU reduces 2011 TACs and quotas for the Black Sea (10% reduction)
3.      The EU sets zero TACs for all species of deep-sea sharks
4.      The EU adopts 2011 TACs and quotas for the Baltic species and bans discards
5.      Total of 28 stop fishing notices published for EU vessels
6.      Commission revises the rules regarding incorrect payments of subsidies
7.      DG MARE publishes study on economic benefits of sustainable fisheries
8.      Pacific Tuna Fisheries Commission fails to strengthen tropical tuna management
9.      Revised fisheries controls under NEAFC brought into EU law
10.     NAFO Convention amended and adopted by the European Council
11.     EU adopts new 3-year Protocol to EU-Seychelles FPA for 52,000 tonnes/year
12.     EU allocates fishing access in the Comoros Islands to Spain, France, Italy and Portugal.
13.     Commission grants Kenya duty free access to EU for non-originating tuna loins
14.     Palestinian Authority to get duty free access to EU market for fishery products
15.     EU Commissioner talks on importance of food webs in the marine ecosystem.
16.     Commission publishes 2011 guide prices for fish (reduced for most species)
17.     Commission publishes communiqué on Maritime Spatial Planning
18.     Commission publishes online multilingual dictionary of fisheries terms
19.     EU Commissioner supports EU subsidies for participation of women in fisheries
20.     Commission announces European Maritime Day will be held on 20 May 2011

Fish hygiene

21.     Rapid alerts notified for 32 consignments of fishery products in December 2010
22.     Commission announces detailed implementing measures for RASFF system
23.     FVO reports on mission to Ghana;  official controls not considered equivalent
24.     FVO reports on mission to Morocco (animal health controls for bivalve molluscs)
25.     FVO reports on mission to Fiji; all of previous recommendations implemented
26.     FVO reports on mission to Georgia; cannot be considered equivalent
27.     FVO published its 2011 programme of missions; 31 consider fishery products
28.     European Council agrees on new food labelling regulation
29.     Commission approves replacement for mouse bioassay test for mollusc toxins
30.     Commission to allow certain infant health claims regarding omega 3 fatty acids
31.     Commission to authorise sardine peptide product subject to conditions on name
32.     EFSA states that use of GM fungal enzyme in animal feeds is safe
33.     EU submits comments on addition of species to generic Codex fish standards
34.     EU submits proposed revisions to Codex standard on scallop meat
35.     EU comments on chlorination of water in Codex Code for Fishery Products
36.     Non-compliant fish establishments in Romania allowed to continue operations
37.     Hungary and UK become zones free of spring viraemia of carp
38.     Norway declares some oyster producing zones free of the parasitic diseases
39.     Commission extends oyster movement controls until end of April 2011
40.     Commission launches EU Food Quality Package

Common Fisheries Policy

1.      The EU Council of Ministers reached a political agreement on fishing opportunities for 2011 for EU fish stocks in the waters of the Atlantic, the Channel and the North Sea. Indicative TACS were agreed, and the TACs and quota regulation will be published in the New Year. The Commission resisted pressure from some Member States to soften some earlier decisions (for example on fisheries management plans).

2.      The EU Council set the 2011 TACS and quotas for the Black Sea species of turbot and sprat (with a 10% reduction in the allowable TACs).

3.      The EU also published the regulation setting the TACs and quotas for 2011 for the EU's deepsea-stocks of black scabbardfish, alfonsinos, roundnose grenadier, orange roughy, blue ling, red seabream, and forkbeards. The regulation also sets zero TACs for all species of deep-sea sharks (except for limited bycatch quotas).

4.      The EU Council adopted the regulation setting the 2011 TACs and quotas for the Baltic species, covering fishing opportunities for cod, salmon, plaice, sprat and herring. The EU also banned the practice of discarding of quota species and outlawed the catch of flounder and turbot in certain areas of the Baltic Sea.

5.      A total of 28 stop fishing notices were published for EU vessels, including Dutch, Spanish, French, Swedish, Danish, Finish, Portuguese, UK, and Estonian fleet segments.

6.      Due to the experience of recent irregularities in allocation of EU fishery subsidies, and difficulties in recovering sums wrongly paid, the European Commission revised the rules, requiring EU Member States to adopt clearer accounting procedures with regard to money incorrectly granted to fishery sector

7.      DG MARE of the European Commission published the results of a modelling study undertaken by consultants which has simulated the economic and financial impacts of the recovery of stocks and elimination of overcapacity in seven EU fisheries. The study confirmed that significantly better economic performance can be achieved in the EU fisheries sector (average increase in net profit/vessel of 520%, albeit with a reduced number of vessels). The study also found that the potential for improvements varies significantly between fisheries and that management policies must be tailored to the nature of the fisheries concerned.

8.      The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) held its 7th annual meeting in Honolulu from 6 to 10 December. The European Commission attended, but members were unable to agree on a more effective approach to managing tropical tuna stocks in the region, and in particular for bigeye tuna, where a 30% reduction in fishing mortality is needed.

9.      EU Council passed a regulation revising and updating the fisheries control arrangements in relation to vessels fishing in the NEAFC Convention area. It sets out updated port state control arrangements which effectively ban landings in the EU from NEAFC parties unless the catches are verified by the flag state and revises the system of inspections at sea and infringement procedures.

10.     The NAFO Convention (concerning Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries) was amended and adopted by the European Council to take into account the Treaty of Lisbon (replacing the European Community with the European Union).

11.     EU Council has adopted a new 3-year Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the EU and the Seychelles. Fishing opportunities will be provided to the EU for 48 tuna seiners targeting tunas and 12 surface longliners (which target swordfish and shark). The EU has allocated the opportunities to Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. The reference quantity is 52,000 tonnes/year of tunas, in return for a compensation of EUR3,380,000, plus a specific amount of EUR2,220,000 for implementation of Seychelles' sectoral fisheries and maritime policies.

12.     The EU Council passed a Regulation allocating the fishing opportunities received by the EU from the Comoros Islands, to EU fleet segments. Opportunities are provided to 22 tuna seiners from Spain, 22 from France, and 1 from Italy. Opportunities for EU surface longline vessels (which target swordfish and sharks) are provided for 12 vessels from Spain, 8 from France and 5 from Portugal.

13.     The Commission passed a decision granting Kenya a derogation of the rules of origin for tuna loins exported to the EU in 2010, allowing it to supply, at preferential ACP tariff rates, up to for 2,000 tonnes of tuna loins for canning, manufactured from tuna of origin other than EC or ACP countries.

14.     The European Commission and the Palestinian Authority of the West Bank and Gaza Strip initialled a trade agreement, which will give agricultural and fishery products originating in the West Bank and Gaza Strip immediate duty free access to the EU market. This liberalisation will be temporary (for 10 years, with a review after 5 years).

15.     EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Maria Damanaki, gave a speech on the importance of food webs in the marine ecosystem, and its links to the market strand of the Common Fisheries Policy. She set out a new golden rule: "fish which cannot be sold at a fair price is best left in the sea".

16.     The Commission published the 2011 guide prices for fish species which are subject to subsidies when the fishermen don't get an economic price for their catch. In reflection of market conditions, the guide prices for most species has been reduced, especially most whitefish and tuna species.

17.     The European Commission published a Communication '"Maritime Spatial Planning in the EU - Achievements and future development" which reports on implementation of the 2008 Maritime Spatial Planning Roadmap. The objective is to bring planning of sea-related activities in different sectors within a common framework so as to "prevent conflicts, maximise synergies, and ensure the efficient and sustainable use of scarce maritime space".

18.     The Commission published an online multilingual dictionary of fisheries terms (available on-line in pdf format). They include sections on aquatic animals and plants, fishing gear and fishing vessels and safety onboard.

19.     Mrs. Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries gave a speech on the role of women in European Fisheries to the European Parliament, in which she encouraged Member States to use EU subsidy funds to enhance women's participation in the sector. Women comprise about one quarter of the EU's fisheries employment.

20.     The Commission has announced that in 2011 the annual European Maritime Day Stakeholder Conference will be held in the Polish city of Gdansk from 19 to 20 May.

Fish hygiene

21.     Rapid alerts were notified by the Commission in respect of for failure to comply with health conditions for 5 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 5 consignments of cephalopods, 2 consignments of crustaceans, and 20 consignments of fish and fish products, including from Spain (frozen semi-cooked shelled mussels), Mauritania (frozen octopus), United Kingdom (anglerfish), France (caviar, tarama with trout roe), Indonesia via Belgium (frozen tuna) and New Zealand (hake eggs).

22.     The European Commission announced that it is preparing a draft Regulation laying down the detailed implementing measures for the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), specifying procedures for transmission of notifications and supplementary information, and the role of the Commission as manager of the network.

23.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Ghana in September 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products, destined for export to the EU. The mission followed on from a previous inspection in 2008, which revealed several deficiencies in legislation, official controls and testing laboratories. The mission found that there were no inspection records of artisanal landing sites, in one approved establishment there were important structural deficiencies, illegal chlorine dips were used in one establishment, and the CA was using a non-valid method for histamine analysis, and could not show that corrective actions were taken in respect of non-compliant test results for heavy metals. Analyses for Listeria monocytogenes, PAH and dioxins are still not carried out by the CA. Overall the CA had addressed 3 out 7 deficiencies noted in the previous mission, leading to the conclusion that official controls could not be considered equivalent to those set out in EU legislation. A new action plan was agreed to address the deficiencies identified.

24.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Morocco in May 2010, with the objective of evaluating the animal health control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market live bivalve molluscs, destined for export to the EU. The mission found that overall, official control systems are well-developed and largely capable of managing the health status of the populations of bivalve molluscs in Morocco. However, the health attestations made on the export certificates could not in all cases be verified in terms of declarations of production zones free from the infection with Perkinsus marinus, and in terms of EU requirements for vector species (due to the risk of transmission of certain crustacean diseases by bivalve molluscs). The report makes a number of recommendations addressed to the Moroccan authorities aimed at rectifying the shortcomings identified.

25.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Fiji in September 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products, destined for export to the EU. The mission followed on from a previous inspection in 2009, which revealed several deficiencies in the implementation of official controls, as a consequence of which Fiji was not able to export fishery products to the EU. The mission found that official controls of production and placing on the market of FP are satisfactorily implemented. However, the analysis method used for the determination of histamine is not the Community reference method. Other than this all of the recommendations of the previous mission had been implemented, and the Commission has recommended that subject to receipt of satisfactory guarantees, Fiji can be added the List of countries permitted to supply the EU with fishery products.

26.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Georgia in September 2010, with the objective of evaluating the control systems in place governing the production and placing on the market of fishery products, destined for export to the EU. The mission found that Georgia has not fully implemented controls which can be considered equivalent to those expressed in EU legislation due to deficiencies in the legislation, there were no documented inspection procedures, and the CA did not have powers to enter and inspect all premises. There was no system in place for approval of vessels and establishments. There were no records of administration of veterinary drugs on fishfarms, the Competent Authority did not inspect fish landing sites, the structure and equipment of establishments visited did not meet EU requirements, HACCP plans were not effectively implemented, no organoleptic or parasite checks were undertaken, and no sampling and testing for Dioxins, PCBs and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH). No checks were performed on safety of water or ice. There was no procedure in place for issuing export certificates and the proposed model certificate for EU fishery products exports was not in line with EU requirements. None of the six laboratories used for testing were accredited to international standards. The mission concluded that the food safety conditions applied to exports of fishery products to the EU could not be considered equivalent to EU requirements, and the Georgian Competent Authority was recommended to submit an action plan of corrective actions to the Commission.

27.     The Food and Veterinary Office of the DG SANCO published its 2011 programme of FVO audit missions in EU and third countries. With regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products missions will be undertaken to Spain, Gambia, Brunei, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Faroe Islands, India, Philippines, Seychelles, Uganda, Tanzania, Colombia, Honduras, Thailand, Albania, Tunisia, Russia, and Mauritania. Missions regarding live bivalve molluscs only will include Spain, France, Greece, Ireland, Turkey, Peru, China. Missions regarding animal health controls in aquaculture will take place to Canada, Malaysia, and South Korea. The FVO also announced that it will also be undertaking a fact finding mission to Finland, Estonia and Germany to review smoking techniques for fishery products and to hold discussions on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, in advance of consideration of changes in EU law.

28.     The European Council of Ministers reached a political agreement on the draft of a regulation on food information to be provided to consumers. The new regulation will merge the requirements of the current labelling Directive 2000/13/EC of on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the labelling, presentation and advertising of foodstuffs and Council Directive 90/496/EEC of 24 September 1990 on nutrition labelling for foodstuffs. The regulation will additionally harmonise the form of the mandatory nutrition, which will include the labelling of the energy value and the quantities of some nutrients (fat, saturates, carbohydrates, protein, sugars and salt).

29.     The Commission approved the Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2074/2005 as regards recognised testing methods for detecting marine biotoxins in live bivalve molluscs, allowing the replacement of the live mouse bioassay test with a chemical test (LC/MS - liquid chromatography mass spectrometry). The new test will be considered valid as from July 2011. Member States and non-member third countries may continue to use the bioassay until 31 December 2014.

30.     The Commission discussed the permissibility of health claims concerning the effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA) on visual, brain and eye development of infants and children. After consideration for the evidence, certain claims will be allowed and a Commission regulation is being drafted.

31.     The Commission decided to authorise the placing on the market of a sardine peptide product made from Sardinops sagax as a novel food ingredient. However, to avoid confusion with Sardinops pilchardus, it was decided to require the latin name to be included in the name of the product.

32.     Following a request from European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Additives and products or Substances used in Animal Feed delivered a scientific opinion on the safety and efficacy of Ronozyme P (6-phytase) as a feed additive for salmonids (an enzyme produced produced by a genetically modified strain of Aspergillus oryzae). The use of the additive allows the use of diets with a lower level of inorganic phosphorus, which reduces the excretion of phosphorus to the environment. EFSA concludes that the use of the enzyme is safe and efficacious at the recommended dosage levels.

33.     The European Commission and EU Member States have submitted comments on proposals of the Codex Alimentarius Commission to revise the procedure by which additional species can be added to generic Codex standards (for example Codex Standard For Canned Tuna And Bonito). The revisions will be discussed at the Codex Committee on Fish and Fishery Products (31st Session) to be held in Tromsø, Norway (11-16 April 2011).

34.     The European Commission and EU Member States have also submitted proposed revisions to the Codex Alimentarius Commission draft Standard for Raw, Fresh and Quick Frozen Scallop Adductor Muscle Meat (Pectinidae spp), which will be discussed in Tromsø in April 2011. Most relevant is an amendment of the scope of the standard, to apply it to raw adductor muscle, with or without added water.

35.     The European Commission and EU Member States have also submitted comments on the proposed revisions to the Codex Alimentarius Commission to the Code of Practice for Fish and Fishery Products with regard to the chlorination of water used in fish processing establishments. The EU supports the phrasing "the residual content of chlorine should not exceed that of potable water"

36.     The Commission decided to amend Commission Decision 2010/89/EU allowing Romania to maintain derogations from hygiene requirements in establishments for meat, fishery products and cold stores until the end of 2011.

37.     Following presentation of evidence by Hungary and UK that their territories are free of the fish disease spring viraemia of carp (SVC), the European Commission passed a decision declaring these countries free of the disease. This allows these countries to restrict imports of carp from zones in which the disease remains endemic.

38.     The EFTA surveillance authority (concerned with PS controls in EFTA countries) has recognised a number of oyster production zones in Norway as being free of the parasitic diseases Bonamia and Marteilia.

39.     The European Commission passed a regulation extending the period of movement controls on oysters (until end of April 2011) due to the ongoing mortalities caused by the Ostreid herpesvirus.

40.     Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr.Dacian Cioloş launched the EU Quality Package for food products, which sets up for the first time a comprehensive policy on certification schemes, value-adding terms for agricultural product qualities, and product standards. Until now these have been spread among numerous pieces of legislation. The package includes a proposed new regulation on  "Agricultural Product Quality Schemes", new guidelines on best practices for voluntary certification schemes and on the labelling of products using geographical indications as ingredients

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