Key developments in EU fisheries policy in February 2010
Within the framework of the common fisheries policy the following developments have taken place:
1. New Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Mrs Maria Damanak says that EU subsidies should be better focused towards policy objectives, reports http://www.megafishnet.com/ with reference to Megapesca.com
2. European Commission proposes CITES listing and trade ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna from 2011
3. European Ombudsman criticises Commission error of days at sea for Scottish fishermen
4. European Council amends quotas for Baltic Salmon
5. Commission sets out multi-annual programme for fisheries data collection
6. European Parliament endorses ecosystem approach to marine resource management
7. Twenty seven rapid alerts notified to DG SANCO in respective of non-compliant consignments of fishery products
8. DG SANCO publishes report on Sierra Leone; official controls for fishery products only partially implemented
9. DG SANCO publishes report on Myanmar; controls for fishery products not considered equivalent
10. DG SANCO publishes report on bivalve controls in China; deficiencies in the monitoring system and laboratories
11. DG SANCO publishes report on residue controls in Vietnam; broadly compliant with EC requirements
12. European Food Safety Authority reports on food-borne outbreaks in 2008; 1,381 confirmed Listeria infections; smoked fish implicated
13. European Commission provides funding for EU sampling survey of Listeria monocytogenes
14. EFSA's Advisory Forum calls for establishment of a pan-European food consumption survey (EU Menu)
15. EFSA and Spanish Food Safety Agency (AESAN) host scientific workshop on assessment of risks related to the import of foods
Common Fisheries Policy
1. In her first speech in her new position, EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Mrs Maria Damanak (who has replaced Dr. Joe Borg) outlined some of the issues being addressed in the reform of the CFP. She indicated that EU subsidies should be better focused towards the policy objectives, with more support for innovation for selectivity and "greening", help for producer organizations to respond to the future challenges and the creation of attractive and safe fishery sector jobs.
2. In one of the first major policy changes of the second Barroso Commission, the European Commission proposed that Atlantic bluefin tuna should be included in Appendix I of CITES, thus banning its international trade, with effect from 2011.The proposal will be discussed with Member States in order to reach a common EU position for the next meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species due to be held in Doha, Qatar, from 13 to 25 March 2010. EU Commissioner for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs, Mrs Maria Damanaki, proposed that a bluefin tuna ban should be postponed until the ICCAT Scientific Committee publishes a new stock assessment in October 2010, and that the ban should not apply to fish derived from artisanal fishing activities. The proposals also include support measures to compensate fishermen and ship-owners who will lose income as a result of such a ban.
3. The European Ombudsman criticised the Commission for an administrative error concerning fishing effort controls under the cod recovery plan in the West of Scotland for the year 2007. This followed a complaint from a Scottish fishermen's association. The measure led to a 10 % reduction of fishing days allocated for a specific group of vessels in the West of Scotland. The Ombudsman called on the Commission to correct its error but the Commission, however, refused to accept the recommendation. The Commission is required to reconsider the matter by 30 June 2010.
4. The European Council published an amendment to the Baltic fishing quotas for 2010, modifying the allocation of Baltic Salmon fishing opportunities to Lithuania.
5. The European Commission passed a decision setting out the requirements and specifications for the multi-annual Community programme for the collection, management and use of data on fisheries, covering the three-year period 2011-2013.
6. The European Parliament passed a resolution strongly endorsing the Commission's Communication on an ecosystem approach to marine resource management, stressing the need for it to lead to a dynamic and flexible system of management and to be able to respond to unforeseen factors and changes in scientific understanding in the future.
7. Rapid alerts were notified to DG SANCO for failure to comply with health conditions in respect of three consignments of bivalve molluscs, four consignments of cephalopods, five consignments of crustaceans and 20 consignments of other fish and products, including products from Spain (chilled hake, frozen shortfin mako shark, frozen grouper fillets, sliced frozen swordfish, fishery products and live bivalve molluscs), Indonesia (frozen baramundi perch), Croatia (chilled European anchovy ) and Senegal (frozen porbeagle). No rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for gastropods.
8. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Sierra Leone in October 2009 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that national legislation was broadly in line with Community requirements, but that the system of official controls was only partially implemented. There was no list of approved establishments or vessels, a processing establishment had several non-compliances but there was no record of inspections nor time frame set for corrective actions, and the HACCP plan was not fully implemented. An official system for monitoring of food safety conditions for fishery products was not in place. Laboratories could not perform the required analyses and were not accredited for any methods, and there was no testing of water. Overall the mission concluded that the system of controls could not provide guarantees of equivalence with EC requirements. Until such guarantees can be provided Sierra Leone will not be placed on the list of countries authorised to supply fishery products to the European market.
9. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Myanmar in October 2009 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of fishery products to the EU market. The mission found that a system of controls was in place, but that its effectiveness was compromised by lack of controls on water and ice, and lack of training of inspectors. The approval of 35 establishments was withdrawn prior to the arrival of the mission. The mission found there was no inspection system in place for fishing vessels, transport vessels and landing sites, with poor conditions in these sectors. HACCP plans in processing establishments did not meet requirements, and there were several hygiene deficiencies, a lack of traceability, poor temperature control and no monitoring of additives in shrimp. Residue monitoring did not address all of the required parameters. Health certificates were signed without evidence that the attestation was true. The laboratory used for official testing was not accredited and was not able to carry out all of the required tests. The mission concluded that the system of controls could not be considered equivalent and recommended that an action plan of corrective actions should be submitted by the Competent Authority.
10. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to China in September 2009 with regard to assessing the conditions for a new supply of scallops from the Zhangsi Dao production areas to the EU market. The mission found that different laboratories analysing for the same parameters used different methods and approaches to quality control. The classification system for harvesting areas was based on different standards to those set out for areas for the harvest of bivalve molluscs in Community legislation. There was no national monitoring system in place for toxic phytoplankton, although monitoring was conducted on a regional basis, but the sampling method was not appropriate and no action was taken on the basis of non-compliant results. Monitoring of DSP and PSP toxins was appropriate, but ASP toxin was not monitored. Overall the newly established control system could not be considered equivalent to EU requirements due to deficiencies in the monitoring system and the testing laboratories employed. The mission recommended that an action plan of corrective actions should be submitted by the Competent Authority.
11. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Vietnam in October 2009 with regard to assessing the residue monitoring arrangements in relation to farmed products of animal origin supplied to the EU market. The mission assessed the performance of the Competent Authorities involved in the control of veterinary medicinal products and their residues in foods. The residue control system for aquaculture products was found to be broadly compliant with EC requirements, due to the pre-export testing programme and the own checks of exporters, which have contributed to a decline in the frequency of rapid alerts. The effectiveness of the control is undermined by limited scope of official testing (which omits some antimicrobial and antihelmintic products available on the Vietnamese market) and non-dissuasive enforcement measures when non-compliances are found. The mission made recommendations and invited the Competent Authority to notify the Commission of actions taken.
12. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) published their Annual Report on Zoonoses and food-borne outbreaks for 2008, with information about disease outbreaks caused by consuming contaminated food. In 2008, there were 1,381 confirmed Listeria infections in the EU, a decrease of 11% compared to 2007. The study found Listeria above the legal safety limit in some ready-to-eat foods, mostly in smoked fish and heat-treated meat products and cheeses.
13. Following the EFSA/ECDC study which found that the highest proportions of non-compliance with the Listeria monocytogenes criteria were in cheese, ready-to-eat fishery and heat treated meat products, the Commission passed a decision to provides funding for Member States to conduct a coordinated sampling survey of the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes with a view to providing scientific data for a risk assessment. A sum of EUR60 is allocated for each test conducted and reported in accordance with the specified sampling and testing framework set out.
14. Members of EFSA's Advisory Forum, representing national food safety agencies from the 27 EU Member States, called for the establishment of a pan-European food consumption survey (EU Menu). This will provide an important critical tool for risk assessment, and will allow for the collection of detailed and harmonised food consumption data at the level of individuals, across the EU.
15. The Spanish Food Safety Agency (AESAN) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) organised a scientific workshop on 10 February to share best practices for the assessment of risks related to the import of foods, animals and plants. Experts presented scientific methods applied in this field and discussed how best to support risk management decisions regarding possible food safety, animal health and plant health concerns.