Key developments in EU fisheries policy in January 2011

February 1, 2011 10:57

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

Common Fisheries Policy

1.      EU sets 2011 TACS and quotas for EU waters and certain non-EU waters, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to MegaPesca.com 
2.      EU Commissioner, outlines successes of IUU regulation; 240 infringements
3.      Commission lifts fishing effort limits in two areas of the Baltic Sea
4.      Stop fishing notices were published for Spanish vessels targeting saithe
5.      EU initials 3 year extension to Fisheries Partnership Agreement Cape Verde
6.      EU and Comoros Island extend Fisheries Partnership Agreement
7.      Commission threatens EU countries over Marine Strategy Framework Directive
8.      DG Environment extends protected marine areas

Fish Hygiene

9.      Rapid alerts notified for 33 consignments of fishery products in January 2011
10.     Commission establishes implementation rules for Rapid Alert System
11.     DG SANCO reports on Cape Verde; significant improvement, but not equivalent
12.     Commission replaces live mouse bioassay marine biotoxins
13.     EU comments on Codex guidelines on viruses in food
14.     EU Comments on use of microbiological criteria in food safety
15.     Commission to add Fiji to list of permitted to export fishery products to the EU
16.     EU considers amending rules for assessing toxicity of dioxins and PCBs
17.     Commission discusses implications of dioxins in Moroccan shrimp meal
18.     Commission proposes limits for certain non-dioxin like PCBs in fish oil
19.     Commission publishes information on aquaculture disease free zones
20.     Commission publishes guidelines on aquaculture diseases and imports
21.     Commission updates webpages on Ostreid herpesvirus 1 μvar (OsHV-1 μvar)
22.     EFSA publishes inventory of data sources on emerging fish diseases
23.     Commission issues guidelines on materials added to animal feeds
24.     Commission re-approves Vitamin E as a nutritional additive to all animal feeds

Common Fisheries Policy

1.      The European Council approved the regulation setting out the TACS and quotas for 2011 fishing opportunities in EU waters and certain non-EU waters (including Norway, Faroe Islands and Iceland). It has also set out the fishing effort limits where such management measures are applicable, and fishing limits with the frame of certain Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (CCAMLR, ICCAT etc).

2.      At the 6th International Forum on Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing in London, 13 January 2011, EU Commissioner, Maria Damanaki gave a speech outlining progress with the EU's actions to eliminate IUU fishing, one year from the coming into force of Regulation 1005/2008. She reported that Member States have refused imports in 14 cases. In addition, 228 inspections of third country vessels were undertaken and 4,850 inspections were carried out under the Joint Deployment Plan, resulting in an additional 240 IUU infringements detected in 2010. Negative trade impacts of the regulation have so far been limited.

3.      The Commission passed a Regulation excluding two areas of the Baltic Sea from the fishing effort limitations for certain fishing methods, due to the low levels of cod caught in them in the last reporting period (below a certain threshold, as certified by the EU's Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee for Fisheries).

4.      Stop fishing notices were published for Spanish vessels establishing a prohibition of fishing for saithe in VI; EU and international waters of Vb, XII and XIV effective 07 January 2011.

5.      The EU initialled a new 3 year protocol to the EU Cape Verde Fisheries Partnership Agreement to come into force from 1 September 2011. The new protocol foresees an annual EU financial contribution of EUR 435,000, with an unchanged reference tonnage of EUR 5,000 tonnes/year. Fishing possibilities have been adapted to 28 tuna seiners (currently 25); 35 surface longliners (currently 48); and 11 pole-and-line fishing vessels (un-changed).

6.      The European Union and the Comoros signed the Protocol setting out the fishing opportunities and financial contribution provided for in the Fisheries Partnership Agreement. The Protocol applies provisionally from 31 December 2010.

7.      The Commission has threatened Estonia, Greece, Finland and Malta with action in the European Court of Justice if they continue to fail to comply with EU legislation requiring them to draw up marine strategies to protect their seas. All Member States were required to transpose the Marine Strategy Framework Directive into national legislation by the 15 July 2010. The four countries were given two months notice to comply before the Commission has indicated it will commence infringement procedures.

8.      DG Environment announced the extension of Natura 2000, Europe's network of protected areas, to include the addition of 17,500 km² of marine areas, aimed at protecting endangered marine species such as salmon and sea otters. Natura 2000 now covers almost 18% of the EU's landmass and more than 130,000 km² of its seas. The main countries involved in this latest expansion are the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Spain and Poland.


Fish Hygiene

1.      Rapid alerts were notified by the Commission in respect of failure to comply with health conditions for 2 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 7 consignments of cephalopods, 8 consignments of crustaceans, and 16 consignments of fish and fish products, including from Chile (pink clams), Uruguay (frozen squid tubes, frozen grilled squid, frozen squid, frozen squid rings), India (prawns and shrimps) and Spain (frozen chunks of amberjack).

9.      The Commission passed a regulation setting out the detailed rules and procedures for the implementation rules of the Rapid Alert System for Food and feeds (RASFF), the EUs real time information system on food safety hazards (for example listing rejections at border inspection points). The measure requires Member States to nominate single contact points and maintain an internal network.

10.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Cape Verde in September 2010, undertaken 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 eight of the nine deficiencies identified in a previous mission in 2009, had been adequately addressed. However, no provision had been made for inspection of freezer vessels. There were also some deficiencies in HACCP inspection and official testing procedures (including the use of a non-approved method for histamine testing). The report recommended that these deficiencies be addressed before the controls could be considered as fully equivalent to those set out in EU legislation

11.     The Commission passed a regulation amending the recognised testing methods for marine biotoxins in shellfish. The measure replaces the live mouse bioassay for lipophilic toxins with a liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) method, which has now been validated under the coordination of the European Union Reference Laboratory. To allow Member States to adapt their methods to the chemical method, the biological methods may be used until July 2011.

12.     At the 42nd Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene, held in Uganda in December 2010, the European Commission commented on the Proposed Draft Guidelines on the Application of General Principles of Food Hygiene to the Control of Viruses in Food. The guidelines indicate that most currently used food safety control measures have not been validated for their efficacy towards controlling virus contamination of foods. The Code considers the high infectivity and food transmission routes of enteric viruses, such as Norovirus and Hepatitis A, and the possibilities of symptomless carriers working in the food industry.

13.     At the 42nd Session of the Codex Committee on Food Hygiene, the Commission also commented on the proposed revision of the Principles for the Establishment and Application of Microbiological Criteria for Foods, pointing out that food safety objectives and microbiological criteria are quite different in function and content, and that to establish a sampling plan that allows a microbiological criteria to be specified to verify a food safety objective, the proportion of the lot sampled may be above the nominally ‘acceptable' level.

14.     The Commission proposed amending Annex II to Commission Decision 2006/766/EC which sets out the list of countries permitted to export fishery products to the EU. The Decision takes into account the last Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) inspection in Fiji in September 2010, which found significant improvements in the official controls of fishery product exports to the EU.

15.     The Commission and Member States discussed an amendment to the Toxic Equivalence Factors (TEF) for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in food, to bring them into line with new TEF values determined by the WHO in 2005. This will result in new maximum levels and action levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in food, which have now been finalised. An amendment to the Directive 2002/32/EC on undesirable substances in animal feed as regards dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs is to be proposed. 

16.     The Commission also discussed a recent RASFF notification regarding dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs found in shrimp shell meal from Morocco.

17.     The Commission discussed a proposed maximum level for non-dioxin like PCBs in fish oil (to a proposed limit of 175 μg/kg). A draft Commission Regulation will be submitted in early 2011.
 
18.     The Commission published a web page including all of the declarations submitted by Member States to the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCFCAH) in relation to the aquaculture disease free status of their territory or zones within the territory.

19.     The Commission has also published a new webpage and updated guidelines setting out the requirements applicable to third country imports in Directive 2006/88/EC with regard to aquaculture diseases. In general terms, this means that aquaculture animals and products from both within the EU and from third countries must broadly fulfil similar animal health requirements before they can be distributed.

20.     The DG SANCO of the Commission has extended its webpages setting out the legal basis and controls as regards measures to control increased mortality in oysters of the species Crassostrea gigas in connection with the detection of Ostreid herpesvirus 1 μvar (OsHV-1 μvar) which was detected in several areas of France and Ireland in 2008 and 2009. The page includes links to EU Member State websites with disease status updates.

21.     EFSA has published the results of a consultancy study with an inventory of data sources relevant for the identification of emerging fish and aquaculture diseases in the European aquaculture population. The report is published on the EFSA website.

22.     The Commission has issued guidelines to allow a rational and legally sound distinction between  feed materials, feed additives, biocidal products and veterinary medicinal products, all of which may be added to animal feeds. The guidelines will assist operators and control authorities to determine which legislation is applicable to a given case.

23.     Following the opinion of an EFSA evaluation, the Commission has passed a regulation re-approving Vitamin E as a nutritional additive to animal feed for all animal species. Although Vitamin E was first approved as a feed additive in 1970, Regulation (EC) No 1831/2003  required that such additives be re-evaluated taking into account food safety  criteria.

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