Key developments in EU fisheries policy in January 2010
Within the framework of the common fisheries policy the following developments have taken place:
1. The Spanish presidency of the EU presented its fisheries policy work programme for the next 6 months to the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council, reports http://www.megafishnet.com/ with reference to Megapesca.com
The priorities will be the ongoing reform of the common fisheries policy, reform of the common market organization of fishery and aquaculture products, introduction of an eco-label regulation for fisheries products, new access and fishing effort controls concerning deep sea species, and a revision of the EU's external fisheries policy.
2. After many years of disagreement, the European Union and Norway have reached long-term agreement on mackerel management in the North-East Atlantic, which provides both for stable quota shares and for agreed access arrangements for their respective fleets over a ten-year period.
3. The breakthrough on mackerel paved the way for the EU and Norway to complete negotiations on the annual mutual exchange of fish quotas in each other's waters, and access arrangements to fish own quota, and allows the Community to fix the TACS and quotas for EC fleets in Northern waters.
4. The EC and the Faroe Islands also agreed the mutual exchange of fishing possibilities in each other's waters, including exchange of Greenland quota, as well as access provisions for blue whiting for 2010.
5. Following the agreements with Norway and Faroe Islands, the European Council finally approved the 2010 TACs and quota regulation for fish stocks subject to quotas in EU waters and waters of third countries to which EC vessels have access (Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Faroe Islands).
6. The Commission amended the Annex of the IUU Regulation which lists the fish species and types which are exempt from the requirement to provide IUU catch certification as a condition of import into the EC. The catch certification arrangements agreed between the Community and Norway, USA and New Zealand were also set out.
7. The Commission published some frequently asked questions regarding the new fisheries control regulation passed in December 2009. The FAQ explains the failures of the previous control regime, and amongst other issues, indicates how the new points systems for fisheries law infringements will operate.
8. The Commission published a ruling that an Italian state aid scheme to provide financial support in the form of grants for the restructuring of fisheries cooperatives and enterprises was unlawful and contravened Community rules. The Commission decision requires the Italian Government to take measures to ensure that the aid is repaid by the recipients.
9. The European Council passed a regulation revising the list of products which are subject to a suspension of the autonomous tariff rate, allowing import at 0% duty from any source. Fishery products include Pacific salmon, hard fish roes, shelled crabs, and red snapper destined for further processing in the EC.
10. Stop fishing notices were published for Belgian vessels fishing for whiting and Dutch vessels fishing for skates and rays in the North Sea.
11. During the month of January 2010, rapid alerts were notified for failure to comply with health conditions for 27 consignments of fishery products and bivalve molluscs, including products from: Chile (frozen cooked mussels), Peru (frozen scallops), Vietnam (frozen black tiger scampi), Indonesia (swordfish), Ghana (tilapia), Uganda (Nile perch) and Taiwan (frozen salmon-flavoured pollack fish snack).
12. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Israel in October 2009 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of aquaculture products to the EU market. The mission found that most of the recommendations made in a previous mission in 2008 had been implemented, and that the system of controls was in principle equivalent to that required by the EU Regulations. However, the controls remained undermined by lack of knowledge of Community requirements for fish health by the staff of the Competent Authority, the use of an unauthorised additive (borax) in some fishery products, and the lack of validation of test methods in accredited laboratories. Appropriate guarantees were sought that the observed deficiencies would be addressed by the Competent Authority, the Veterinary and Animal Health Service of the Fisheries Department.
13. The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Peru in September 2009 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of live bivalve molluscs and fishery products to the EU market, and following up from a previous mission in 2006. The mission found significant shortcomings in the classification of production areas and in the monitoring of marine biotoxins. It found that the legal basis for controls was not fully equivalent to EC requirements in respect of histamine, poisonous fish and standards for potable water. The Competent Authority, the Instituto Tecnologico Pesquero del Peru, was found not to have sufficient controls on imported raw materials for producing products eligible for export to the EC. Monitoring of heavy metals and other environmental contaminants was also found to be not in compliance with EC requirements. One non-approved establishment was found to be supplying products to the EC supply chain, and two approved establishments had numerous hygiene deficiencies. Overall the mission concluded that the official controls "cannot be considered completely adequate" and the Competent Authority was requested to provide appropriate guarantee regarding corrective actions.
14. The EFSA published a report of a technical meta-study led by Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science of the UK, regarding the epidemiology of several fish diseases of important commercial species (6 of fish, 5 of molluscs and 3 of crustaceans). The study undertook a detailed review of 463 published sources, and presents a summary of each of the diseases (causative agent description, available tools for typing (strain identification), descriptive epidemiology including the current worldwide distribution of the host and pathogen (including different strains) and outbreak data in the EU and worldwide). The document provides an excellent source of data on commercially important fish diseases.
15. The Commission discussed the difficulties of achieving compliance with the MRLs of non-dioxin like PCBs in feedstuffs, following communication from some industry sources. Member States were asked to review compliance data.
16. Following a question raised by Belgium, the Commission clarified the status of fishing baits in terms of animal feed legislation, indicating that baits are to be considered as falling within the broad definition of "feed materials".
17. The Commission published a webpage with links to all of the EC Member States' published registries of authorised aquaculture production and processing establishments, which include information on the species kept and the health status at each location.