Key developments in EU fisheries policy in March 2010

April 5, 2010 09:33

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

1.      EU Commissioner threatens action on fisheries management in the Mediterranean, reports with reference to Megapesca.

2.      European Council sets quotas for North Sea, following agreement with Norway and Faroe Islands.

3.      Commission sets out new licensing arrangements for EU vessels in the North Sea.

4.      Commission acts to check on progress with cod recovery plan

5.      Commission disappointed with non-listing of bluefin tuna by CITES

6.      Commission satisfied with new IOTC conservation measures for tuna and sharks

7.      EU Commissioner for Maritime and Fisheries Affairs visited the Community Fisheries Control Agency

8.      Community Fisheries Control Agency adopts annual report.; 2010 budget will be EUR8.85 million.

9.      Commission publishes fisheries subsidies by Slovakia, Italy, Germany.

Fish Hygiene

10.     Rapid alerts notified by the Commission for 34 consignments of fisheries products.

11.     DG SANCO publishes report on Uruguay; some minor shortcomings, but considered to be equivalent

12.     DG SANCO publishes report on El Salvador; significant improvement but still some deficiencies.

13.     DG SANCO publishes report on Brunei; serious shortcomings; not considered equivalent

14.     DG SANCO publishes report on Mauritius; CA still not able to guarantee equivalence.

15.     DG SANCO publishes report on Singapore (live aquaculture products); insufficient quarantine controls of imports.

16.     EU considers bivalve imports from USA after expiry of authorisation (1 July 2010)

17.     EFSA publishes study on dioxins in foods; 8% of the samples non-compliant (mostly fishery products).

18.     Commission discusses amendment of the dioxin limits

19.     Commission discusses findings of dioxins in seaweed and menhaden based fish oil and fish meal.

20.     Commission withdraws decision on finance for Listeria study.

21.     EFSA considers use of carotenoid-rich bacterium feed colouring additive

22.     Commission technical working group to review smoke flavouring in foods

23.     Commission passes regulation to control new oyster disease.

24.     Commission lists new aquaculture disease free areas in Hungary and Ireland.

Common Fisheries Policy

1.      Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Mrs.Maria Damanaki stated emphatically that the implementation of Council Regulation No.1967/2006 "Concerning management measures for the sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean" will not be postponed. She indicated that 3 years after its entry into force, "the level of compliance remains totally insufficient" and that the Commission will not hesitate to apply sanctions as set out in European Treaties to force compliance by Member States. The Regulation sets out new fisheries management measures and implements the Commission's Action Plan on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fishery resources in the Mediterranean Sea.

2.      The European Council passed a regulation setting out the amended 2010 fishing quotas for EU vessels operating in the North Sea, in Norwegian and Faroe Island waters, following the agreements made between the Commission on behalf of the EU, and the Governments of Norway and Faroe Islands.

3.      The Commission passed a regulation setting out new licensing arrangements for EU vessels operating in third country waters, and in particular in Norwegian waters of the North Sea. Vessels <200GRT will longer require licences. Specific conditions for third country fishing vessels operating in EC waters are also revised.

4.      The Commission passed a regulation setting out the detailed requirements for checking that vessels exempt from the provisions of the cod recovery plan are in fact meeting the conditions of their exemption, and requiring Member States to confirm that total fishing effort is not greater that than authorised under the plan. The measure sets out the detailed information requirements of the Commission to be supplied by the Member States.

5.      The European Commission expressed disappointment at the failure of CITES convention members meeting in Doha, to list bluefin tuna as an endangered species (Appendix 1) and restrict international trade in this species. Japan objected strongly to the proposed measures, arguing that ICCAT was already mandated to manage this resource.

6.      The Commission expressed satisfaction with the decisions made by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission for the protection of the fish stocks of the Indian Ocean, such as tropical tunas and shark stocks. At a meeting of the IOTC held in Busan, Korea, on 1-5 March 2010, the parties agreed on an enhanced system for control and compliance, to introduce a time/area closure and on forbidding sharks from the thresher family from being taken or kept on board. The new measures were based largely on proposals submitted by the Commission.

7.      Mrs.Maria Damanaki, Commissioner for Maritime and Fisheries Affairs visited the Community Fisheries Control Agency, after its first full year of operation from Vigo (Spain) and praised its work.

8.      The Community Fisheries Control Agency also adopted its annual report for 2009. Six Joint Deployment Plans (JDP's) for Specific Control and Inspection Programmes were implemented in 2009, by the Commission, Member States and RFMOs. These focused on recovery measures applicable to stocks of cod in the Baltic and North Sea areas, the eastern Atlantic blue fin tuna and regulated species in the NAFO and NEAFC Regulatory Areas. The 2010 budget is EUR8.85 million (EUR7.28 million of administrative expenditure and EUR1.57 of operational expenditure).

9.      The Commission received notifications from the Governments of Slovakia, Italy and Germany regarding subsidies provided to fishing, fish processing and fish marketing enterprises. Details of the grants and subsidies made to the fisheries businesses from these countries were published by the Commission.

Fish Hygiene

10.     Rapid alerts were notified by the Commission for failure of 34 consignments of fisheries and bivalve mollusc products to comply with health conditions. These included consignments from Latvia (smoked fish balls in tomato sauce), France (oysters, bivalve molluscs), Italy (clams), USA (squid and pink salmon roe), China (dried shredded squid), India (prawns and frozen squid), Vietnam (shrimps and frozen Pangasius fillets), and Ghana (dried salted tilapia).

11.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Uruguay in November 2009. The mission was a follow up to a previous mission carried out in 2008 The mission found that the legislation for fisheries products can be considered in general as being equivalent to EC requirements. However there are no national formal requirements in place for control of bivalve mollusc harvesting. Despite this the CA had implemented adequate controls along the supply chain. A registration system had been established for control of imported fishery products subsequently re-exported to the EU (including shrimp from India), to ensure that their origin was from approved establishments. However there was insufficient traceability in this system to guarantee its reliability. Other controls were considered to be in line with EC requirements. Other controls were considered to be in line with EU requirements. With regard to controls of bivalve molluscs, these are harvested off shore and exported only in frozen form. The CA has adopted an approximate control system for these circumstances. However the mission found a lack of legal provisions for health standards, a lack of rules regarding maintaining and re-opening of closed areas undermined the control system. Furthermore , although the testing laboratory monitored biotoxins it did not participate in proficiency testing. Overall apart from minor shortcomings, the mission found that the system of official controls could be considered equivalent to the EC requirements.

12.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to El Salvador in January 2010. The mission was a follow up to a previous mission carried out in May 2009. Apart from MRLs for some heavy metals the legislation was found to be in line with EC requirements. There was insufficient control over imported raw materials used for fishery products and exported to the EC, to ensure that it was derived from authorised sources. The mission found that follow up measures after detection of non-compliances had significantly improved. Some deficiencies were found in HACCP plans on board freezer vessels and in shore establishments. However official controls and checks were in line with Community requirements. Regarding laboratory testing, methods were undergoing accreditation. However detection limits for analysis of heavy metals were not in line with Community requirements. Overall the FVO noted a significant effort to address the recommendations of the previous mission. The remaining deficiencies, it recommended, should be addresses in a plan of action to be submitted to the Commission.

13.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Brunei in October 2009. This, the first mission to Brunei, found that the system of official controls, the sanitary conditions for export of fishery products to the EU was incomplete. Legal provisions were considered to be in general, in line with Community provisions. Establishments were licensed without regard to compliance with sanitary conditions and there was no defined procedure specified for licensing of vessels or establishments to supply the EU market. Knowledge of inspection staff was limited. Imported fishery products were not subject to any sanitary controls. Results of inspections of fishing vessels were not always recorded and non-compliance procedures were not established. Standards at the single (government operated) landing site were insanitary (wooden cold-stores, rusty equipment, presence of pests). In processing establishments HACCP plans were not checked and there were no measures in place to ensure non-compliances were corrected. There were no organoleptic checks, and no sampling or testing for microbiological conditions on residues in capture fishery products. On the shrimp farms metabisulphites were used without a validation protocol to ensure compliance with EU residue limits. The model certificate was not in line with Community requirements. The mission concluded that the CA was not able to guarantee equivalence to EU requirements and recommended the submission of a plan of actions to address the observed deficiencies.

14.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Mauritius in November 2009. The mission was a follow up to a previous mission carried out in February 2008 which found deficiencies in relation to official controls, laboratory and sanitary conditions on EU listed facilities. The mission found that the legal framework was equivalent to EC requirements. However the mission noted that there were no links between the Division of Veterinary Services (nominated in law) and the Competent Authority Seafood of the Ministry of Agro Industry Food Production and Security. References to community measures in official documents and manuals were out of date. Model certificates did not indicate approval numbers. Small scale fishing vessels were found not to be under the control of the CA. Insanitary conditions were found at two out of six landing sites inspected. Conditions on board a freezer vessel visited were not satisfactory, and a HACCP plan was deficient, requirement for temperature recording devices in a reefer vessel were not applied by the CA. Numerous deficiencies were identified in approved processing plants, including incorrect cold storage temperatures, dirty changing rooms and use of wooden pallets in processing areas. Deficiencies were found in an approved establishment which had previously been de-listed. HACCP plans were present in all plants visited, but severe deficiencies were identified and several plans were not implemented as written. A non- official laboratory test for histamine was used for testing tuna species. Overall the mission found that although there have been significant improvements since the previous mission, there are still some serious shortcomings and the control system cannot deliver guarantees equivalent to the requirements of Community Legislation. The CA was requested to provide the commission with a further plan of corrective activities.

15.     The Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO published a report on a mission to Singapore in November 2009 with regard to meeting the conditions for supply of live aquaculture animals to the EU market (ornamental fish). The mission found that the Competent Authority was generally well organised but that inspection, sampling and testing protocols would not necessarily always identify diseased fish in time. Aquaculture production businesses had not always reacted appropriately to detection of mortalities. With regard to imported species, only Koi carp were subject to a sufficient quarantine regime. The export certification procedures were considered not to be equivalent to EC requirements, since re-export inspections, declarations of origin and permitted imports of live fish from regions where listed diseases are endemic, were all identified as deficiencies. This results in the supply to the EU market of aquaculture animals ineligible for entry into the Community. The Competent Authority was recommended to address the identified deficiencies.

16.     EU Member States were updated by the Commission regarding discussions with the USA on the import to the Community of live bivalve molluscs. Imports from the USA are authorised only until 1 July 2010, and exclude the imports of bivalve molluscs harvested in the States of Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Louisiana.

17.     The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an analysis of the levels of dioxins and related substances in food and animal feed. The study, which was prepared by EFSA's Data Collection and Exposure unit, was based on over 7,000 samples collected by 21 European countries between 1999 and 2008. Overall, 8% of the samples exceeded the different maximum levels set out in EU legislation (although some samples were targeted). The highest average levels of dioxins were found in fish liver and derived products. In animal feed, the highest average levels were found in fish oil. The current EU method for measuring overall dioxin levels is based on toxicity values for different types of dioxins recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1998. EFSA was also asked to assess the impact on total dioxin levels of using toxicity values set out in WHO recommendations from 2005, which downgraded the relative toxicity of certain types of dioxins. The report found that using the new values would reduce overall estimated dioxin toxic equivalency levels by 14%, although the extent of this reduction differed across food and feed categories.

18.     Following receipt of the EFSA study, the Commission discussed potential amendment of the provisions as regards non-dioxin like PCBs in animal feeds, based on new evidence from EFSA. It is now proposed to set the level at 10μg/kg, with higher limits for fish oil (125 μg/kg), fish meal (25 μg/kg) fish protein hydrolysates, (50 μg/kg) and feed for fish and pet foods (30 μg/kg).

19.     The Commission discussed the findings by Ireland of an increased level of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in dried seaweed imported from Japan. The Commission also indicated that increased levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs had been found in menhaden based fish oil and fish meal originating from the US. Member States were requested to pay attention to this issue.

20.     The Commission informed Member States that it had made a budgetary error in publishing a Decision concerning a financial contribution from the Union towards a coordinated monitoring programme on the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in certain ready-to-eat foods to be conducted in the Member States. The Decision was withdrawn.

21.     Following receipt of an EFSA scientific opinion on the use of a carotenoid-rich bacterium Paracoccus carotinifaciens (commercial name Panaferd-AX) as feed colouring additive for salmon and trout, the Commission discussed the possibility of authorising its use.

22.     The Commission announced that a technical working group is reviewing the authorisations of smoke flavouring primary products to be used in or on foods.

23.     The Commission passed a regulation setting out detailed measures to control a disease of oysters attributed to bacteria of the genus Vibrio and the Ostreid herpesvirus-1 (OsHV-1), which were a factor in the mass mortalities which occurred in France in 2008. The regulation sets out steps to be taken by the Competent Authority in case of outbreaks, including notifications, movement restrictions and communication via the internet.

24.     The Commission announced changes to the listing of areas free from certain aquaculture diseases, following the receipt of monitoring status reports from Hungary and Ireland.

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