Key developments in EU fisheries policy in March 2011

April 4, 2011 09:00

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

Common Fisheries Policy

1.      Commissioner Damanaki; reformed CFP should be greener, simpler and leaner, reports www.megafishnet.com with reference to Megapesca.com.
2.      Commissioner Damanaki sets out ideas on discards ban and management system
3.      Commissioner Damanaki says illegal fishers should not get EU subsidies
4.      Agreement signed (without Russia) on pelagic redfish in the Irminger Sea
5.      "Powerless" IOTC fails to agree on shark conservation
6.      European Council ratifies convention on Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean
7.      European Court rules EU emergency measures on bluefin to be discriminatory
8.      Commission threatens Cyprus with court and fines over marine environmental strategy
9.      Council amends list of fishery products exempt from the IUU Regulation 1005/2008
10.     Commission publishes list of third country notifications under IUU Regulation
11.     Commission publishes list of firms exempt from submission of IUU catch certificates
12.     New annual duty free tariff quotas for fishery products originating in Norway.
13.     Commissioner Damanaki comments on future of sectoral support under FPAs
14.     Commission initials 12-month extension of FPA with Morocco
15.     The Fisheries Partnership Agreement between EU and Solomon Islands ratified
16.     Community Fisheries Control Agency adopts annual report
17.     Commission publishes the standard fishery data codes and structures
18.     Commissioner Damanaki sets out the case for EU observer status at the Arctic Council
19.     Commissioner Damanaki  supports revised management of Mediterranean fisheries
20.     Commissioner Damanaki sets out EU's maritime strategy for the Atlantic
21.     Study launched on maritime cooperation in the Mediterranean.

Fish Hygiene

22.     Rapid alerts notified for 56 consignments of fishery products in March 2011.
23.     DG SANCO reports on a fishery product controls in to Italy; significant shortcomings
24.     DG SANCO reports on aquaculture controls in Poland; significant non-compliances
25.     DG SANCO reports on bivalve controls in Croatia; some deficiencies to be addressed
26.     DG SANCO reports on fishery product controls in Croatia;
27.     DG SANCO reports on fishery product controls in Eritrea; important deficiencies;
28.     DG SANCO reports on fishery product controls in Kazakhstan; little progress
29.     Commission requires consignments of Japanese food to be certified for radionuclides
30.     Commission updates measures on Ostreid herpes virus disease for 2010 season
31.     Commission publishes updated links to lists of EU aquaculture establishments
32.     Commission authorises novel fungal enzyme as a feed additive for salmonids.
33.     Commission considers definition of "edible part" for analysis of sulphites in crustacean
34.     Commission moves towards setting limits for non dioxin-like PCBs
35.     Commission to change limits for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs based on new toxicity factors
36.     Commission criticises Member States for using microbiologal criteria for raw fish
37.     Commission considers new Regulation on parasites in fishery products

Common Fisheries Policy

1.      Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Damanaki gave a speech to German stakeholders and government regarding CFP reform. She indicated that EU fisheries policy is too complicated, too detailed and too distant from the final users, and that reform should make it greener, simpler and leaner, more modern and consistent with international standards. She indicated a new policy in which EU could set the objectives, and detailed design of mix of management and technical measures would be left to coastal Member States in relation to each sea basin. She cited the Baltic approach as an example of cooperative management. She also expressed support for ITQs, but that transfers should be limited to the national level, to maintain relative stability. She also indicated a streamlined financial instrument is being considered, in the form of one single fund for scientific needs, governance expenditures (such as regional councils and advisory organisations) and also control and enforcement.

2.      Mrs.Maria Damanaki also gave a speech to Ministers and Members of the European Parliament, on the reform of the EU policy towards discards, outlining the Commission's proposals for a gradual introduction of a discards ban, starting with pelagic fisheries, then extending to demersals. The Commission is still considering the choice between quota or effort controls as the principal management system.

3.      Mrs.Damanaki also gave a speech to MEPs setting out ways to make sure that EU funding did not in future support those engaged in IUU fishing. She indicated that the CFP reform process provides an opportunity to prohibit operators who have not complied with conservation rules from benefiting from EU support, requiring operators to prove that none of their vessels are blacklisted, and to have met all the requirements of the IUU regulation to qualify for funding.

4.      The Faroe Islands, Greenland and Iceland, along with the European Union and Norway reached agreement in Reykjavik on multi-annual interim conservation and management measures for deep and shallow pelagic redfish in the Irminger Sea (waters between Iceland and Greenland in the NEAFC Convention Area). The measures set a TAC, falling to 20,000 tonnes in 2014, and quota shares to each party, including 15.45% to the EU. The North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission (NEAFC) will also establish a long-term management plan for both stocks of redfish in the area, including harvest control rules.

5.      At a meeting of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, several new conservation and management proposals advised by the IOTC scientific committee were rejected (for example prohibition of retention on board of hammerhead or oceanic white tip sharks). Strengthened data collection measures for the gillnet fleets and better reporting of shark catches were also rejected. The European Commission stated that the decisions were "tantamount to rendering the organisation powerless in the face of urgent problems such as the protection of endangered species". The IOTC did however pass a resolution on illegal fishing, and approved a Statement on Piracy.

6.      The European Council passed a Decision ratifying the EU's joining of the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fishery Resources in the South Pacific Ocean and authorising the signature of the convention on behalf of the EU.

7.      The Court of the European Union ruled that the EU's emergency measures as regards purse seiners fishing for bluefin tuna in the Atlantic Ocean (introduced by Commission Regulation (EC) No 530/2008 of 12 June 2008) were partially invalid, due to different dates at which the measures were applied to different Member States' fleets. The regulation therefore breached the principle of non- discrimination.

8.      The Commission asked Cyprus to comply with EU legislation requiring Member States to draw up legislation to implement the marine strategy framework directive (2008/56/EC). National measures should have been notified by 15 July 2010. Cyprus was given two months to comply or face action in the Court of Justice and financial sanctions.

9.      The Council amended the IUU Regulation 1005/2008 to re-define the list of fishery products to which the catch certification requirement does not apply (based on CN codes). It also allows Member States to accept the ICCAT Bluefin tuna catch document in place of the IUU catch certificate for this species and revises the prior notification forms for landings by third country fishing vessels.

10.     The Commission published a document showing the latest notification status and competent authorities of third countries in regard to compliance with the IUU Regulation 1005/2008.

11.     The Commission  published its first list of approved economic operators who are derogated from the requirement to submit a validated IUU catch certificates to the Member State competent authority in respect of imported fishery products. They include one Austrian, one Dutch and two German firms.

12.     Following the signing in 2009 by the EU and Norway of an Additional Protocol to the EEA Treaty, the Commission passed a regulation which provides for a new regime of annual duty free tariff quotas at import into the Union of certain fish and fishery products originating in Norway.

13.     Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Damanaki gave a speech to the European Parliament reporting on the Fisheries Partnership Agreement with Mauritania. She indicated that the Agreement has been characterised by a slow disbursement of sectoral support funds. In future, the Commission is considering strengthening the conditionality attached to the financial support for the fishery sector, in parallel with a decoupling of access rights payments and the payments for sectoral support.

14.     The European Commission initialled a 12-month extension of the protocol under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA) with Morocco, with the same level of fishing opportunities and financial contribution as in the 2007 protocol, which expired on February 27, 2011. The one year extension will be used to asses the data and information obtained from the Moroccan authorities about the regional impacts of the protocol and to define next steps in relation to a new Protocol

15.     The Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Solomon Islands, was ratified by both parties came into force on 9th March 2011.

16.     The Community Fisheries Control Agency adopted its annual report for 2010, during which year more than 7,000 fisheries inspections were undertaken employing 1,600 man days by joint teams with members from different Member States. Four Joint Deployment Plan were executed in the North Sea / Western Waters, Baltic Sea & NAFO / NEAFC and Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean and Eastern Atlantic. A new Regional Risk Analysis tool was developed to facilitate planning of joint campaigns. In 2011, the budgeted expenditure is EUR12.8 million. The proposed draft budget for 2012 is EUR9.3 million.

17.     The Commission published the standard data codes and structures to be applied by Member States in the implementation of electronic fisheries data recording and exchange. It covers codes for country, species, fish size categories, weights, fishing areas and many other fisheries variables.

18.     Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Damanaki gave a speech to the Conference: "Arctic Science, International Law and Climate Protection" on the subject of Arctic Fisheries. She stated that the Arctic was a new frontier in political and economic terms, with a dichotomy between economic opportunities and environmental risks which needs to be managed by international collaboration. She affirmed the rights of the Arctic states under UNCLOS and the fundamental role of the Arctic Council as a platform for dialogue. She set out the case for permanent observer status for the EU in the Arctic Council

19.     The Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mrs.Damanaki gave a speech to the EU Parliament on the issue of management of Mediterranean fisheries, following the presentation of a report by Crescenzio Rivellini MEP on fishing in the area covered by the General Fisheries Commission in the Mediterranean (GFCM). The proposal is to adopt some regulations adopted by the GFCM in one single regulation, and was welcomed by the Commission, and subsequently adopted by the Parliament.

20.     Mrs.Damanaki also gave a speech on the development of the EU's maritime strategy for the Atlantic. The aim of the strategy will be to promote sustainable growth and jobs, to support implementation of the Common Fisheries Policy, and to protect the marine environment.

21.     The European Commission, the European Investment Bank and the International Maritime Organization launched a study under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) on maritime cooperation in the Mediterranean. The study will investigate the feasibility of mechanisms for promoting best practices in three major areas: social aspects, maritime surveillance and safety, and investment in maritime infrastructure.

Fish hygiene
22.     Rapid alerts were notified by the Commission in respect of failure to comply with health conditions for 5 consignments of bivalve molluscs, 5 consignments of cephalopods, 6 consignments of crustaceans, and 41 consignments of fish and fish products, including norovirus in mussels from the Netherlands with raw material from the United Kingdom, Ireland and the Netherlands, fraudulent health certificate(s) for frozen squid cubes from China, unauthorised irradiation and unlabelled irradiation of frozen glazed black tiger shrimps (Penaeus monodon) from Vietnam, risk of chemical contamination (mustard gas) of chilled cod (Gadus morhua) from Denmark and carbon monoxide treatment (1.0 mg/kg - ppm) of and unauthorised use of colour E 120 - carmines (presence mg/kg - ppm) in tuna loins from Spain.

23.     Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Italy in September 2010, with regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products. The mission found significant shortcomings concerning the official controls of primary production (i.e. aquaculture farm and fishing vessels) and freezer and factory vessels. One factory vessel had not been inspected since 1995. Structural, hygiene and HACCP deficiencies were found in all establishments visited. Responsibilities between different regional and Ministerial competent authorities were not clearly defined. The inspection team was not able to gain access to some fishery businesses. In one region there was no annual inspection plan. There were major deficiencies identified in respect of the monitoring arrangements for residues and contaminants in fishery products. Despite being accredited, testing laboratories were found to be deficient in proficiency testing, use of validated methods and in timely communication of results. In addition, the effectiveness and comparability of official controls by central and regional competent authorities could not be assessed, due to lack of monitoring and verification procedures. The mission concluded that the system of official sanitary controls of fishery products could not be considered as compliant with EU requirements. The central competent authority the Department for Veterinary Public Health, Nutrition and Food Safety of the Ministry of Health was requested to submit an action plan of corrective measures.

24.     Report of a mission by the Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO to Poland in 2010, with regard to animal health controls in the aquaculture sector. The mission found that a significant number of aquaculture producers were not registered and were outside the controls and of unknown health status. Veterinary inspectors were not adequately trained. There was a lack of guidelines for implementation of controls. Laboratory testing methods used for surveillance of some important viral diseases could result in under-estimation of incidence. However, given the small size of the operators and the low level of intra-community trade, transmission risks were considered to be limited


25.     Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO reported on a mission to Croatia in September 2010, with regard to sanitary controls for the production of live bivalve molluscs, following Croatia's application to be added to the list of third countries which can export Live Bivalve Molluscs to the EU. The legislation on live bivalve molluscs controls was found to be harmonised with EU requirements. A clear and auditable control system and monitoring plan is in place. But the frequency of inspections is less than required. Purification centres were not monitored fully in accordance with requirements and no official samples of end products are not taken. Laboratories participating in official controls did not perform Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and lipophilic toxins analyses in accordance with the reference method descriptions. Subject to addressing these deficiencies, for which the Croatian authorities are requested to submit guarantees, the controls can be considered to be in line with EU requirements.


26.     Report of a mission by the Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO to Eritrea in October 2010, with regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products, following up from a previous mission in 2008. The mission found that although there were some improvements, such as the introduction of new legislation, there were still a number of important deficiencies identified in the official controls of primary production, in the official controls on fishery products, notably for histamine and heavy metals, and in the reliability of the analyses performed by the official laboratory. The Competent Authority, under the Ministry of Marine Resources was requested to submit a plan of corrective actions.


27.     Report of a mission by the Food and Veterinary Office of DG SANCO to Kazakhstan in October 2010, with regard to sanitary conditions for fishery products supplied to the EU market, following up from a previous mission in 2007. The mission found that The central competent authority (the Committee of State Inspection of the Agro-Industrial Complex) does not provide any direction of guidance to the regional/local implementing authorities and district veterinarians on official controls on fishery products destined for the EU. Overall most of the recommendations of the previous report have not been adequately addressed. The report makes specific recommendations and the Commission will seek guarantees regarding the implementation of a plan of corrective actions.


28.     The Commission decided to adopt a regulation requiring consignments of
food or feed from 12 prefectures potentially affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Each consignment has to be accompanied by a declaration by the Japanese authorities attesting that the product does not contain levels of radionuclides that exceed the EU's maximum permitted levels.

29.     The Commission passed a Decision approving the UK's and Ireland's surveillance plans for Ostreid herpes virus disease; and amending the requirements for movement restrictions and notifications in case of occurrence of the disease. The Commission also published a guidance document on the design and implementation of surveillance programmes for the oyster disease caused by the ostreid herpesvirus affecting Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas). The note provides details of sampling procedures and specific testing methodologies to be applied. The Commission also published a press release explaining the rationale for the evolving regulatory control measures for the ostreid herpesvirus, in the context of outbreaks in 2008 and 2009, and regarding its possible further recrudescence and risk of further spread in spring and summer 2010.

30.     The Commission published an updated set of links to lists of aquaculture establishments within the EU.

31.     Following the publication of a scientific opinion by EFSA, the Commission passed a regulation authorising the use of a novel fungal enzyme as a feed additive for salmonids.

32.     The Commission considered the findings of a working group of Governmental Experts on the Estimation of the definition of the "edible part" in the analysis of sulphites in crustacean and cephalopods (ie. should shells, heads and tails should be included in the analytical sample). The Group found that there is a significantly higher concentration of sulphites on the shells compared to the internal part of shrimps, and different laboratories include these parts in the analysed sample. Member States agreed that common rules are needed.

33.     The Commission announced that the establishment of the list of authorised smoke flavourings has been postponed in order to wait for the outcome of the evaluation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) of the new studies that have been submitted on two smoke flavourings.
34.
The Commission continued discussions with Member States on setting limits for non dioxin-like PCBs. A draft Commission Regulation (EU) amending Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foods. Following a EFSA opinion, the Commission considers that a sum of six indicator PCBs is considered an appropriate measures for occurrence and human exposure to non dioxin-like PCBs. It is expected that some derogations, for example for fish from the Baltic Sea, will be required.


35.     Following the World Health Organisation (WHO) review of the  Toxic Equivalency Factor values for dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs, the Commission discussed the revision of the Regulation (EC) No 1881/2006 of 19 December 2006 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foods, to apply the new factors. EFSA has also been asked to consider the appropriateness of establishing the maximum level in liver on a product basis, rather than on a fat basis as at present. Any amendment may be combined with the new measures regarding limits for non dioxin-like PCBs.

36.     The Commission discussed the fact that certain EU Member States are continuing to apply national food safety criteria to raw fish (including in some cases even microbiologal criteria, including Listeria), despite the fact that there is no scientific or legal basis. The Commission reminded Member States that they should refrain from applying any national food safety criteria without prior notification to the Commission. .

37.     The Commission has discussed the possibility of a new Regulation regarding the requirements concerning parasites in fishery products for human consumption, specifically to account for health risks in fishery products that are intended to be eaten raw. Member States support the approach but further discussions will be held, together with a possible guidance text relating to viable parasites in fishery products.

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