The Sustainable Eel Group (SEG) is calling for EU action to prevent illegal fishing and trafficking of European eel before it is too late. The European eel is critically endangered; key measures for its protection are limiting of fishing and enforcing existing trade control measures. Within these restrictions it is forbidden to export eel outside the EU. Enforcement agencies estimate, however, that at least 110m juvenile glass eels have already been trafficked from Europe to Asia’s eel farms this season. Trafficking has to stop, because this wildlife trade undermines the measures for the protection of the eel. Andrew Kerr, Chairman of SEG stated: “The failure to control the selling and distribution of European Eel is threatening the whole recovery effort – for every eel legally eaten, 3 to 5 are being trafficked”.
Evidence shows that the trade ban adopted by the EU in 2010, is not being sufficiently implemented by EU Member States. The French Le Comité national des pêches maritimes et des élevages marins recently stated that France’s declared catch alone had reached 140 million glass eels and has another month to run. An instant market survey this week revealed that only some 30 million had been sold to legitimate European markets. The rest had vanished. SEG is calling on the European Commission to enforce existing measures restricting trade of the eel under CITES and the Commission Regulation (EU) no 1320/2014, banning all imports and exports of European eel to and from the EU. Additionally, full traceability of all eel trade is obliged by EU Eel Regulation and in particular its Article 12 on control and enforcement of trade. Insufficient implementation of trade controls and the resulting trafficking frustrates the European Eel Recovery Programme as mandated by the EU Eel Regulation. Consequently, trafficking threatens the survival of the species, by undermining its protection and sustainable use and ultimately some 10,000 jobs.
Even though fishing activities have been monitored for selected fleets using electronic vessel monitoring systems, logbooks, and onboard observers, these efforts only provide very limited evidence of a region’s fishing patterns. A new study published by Science Magazine has made use of global satellite-based observations along with artificial intelligence to train and analyse the 22 billion messages publicly broadcast from marine vessels’ automatic identification system (AIS) from 2012 to 2016. The particularity of movements relating to fishing have led to the identification of more than 70,000 fishing vessels ranging from 6 to 146 m in length, with a 95% accuracy. The movements of these commercial fishing vessels have been tracked hourly and reveal a global ‘heat map’ that covers more than 55% of the ocean’s surface or over four times the area covered by agriculture.
Although the data set includes only a limited proportion of the world’s estimated 2.9 million motorized fishing vessels, it encompasses most of the larger vessels exceeding 24m in length and is estimated to account for between 50 to 70% of the total high seas fishing.
Over the course of 2016, the data set captured 40 million hours of fishing activity by these vessels covering a combined distance of more than 460 million km, the equivalent of traveling to the moon and back 600 times, and consuming 19 billion kWh of energy.
Italy is the world’s fourth largest producer of anchovy with 37,511 tonnes caught in 2015 according to the latest EUMOFA Case Study: Processed Anchovy in Italy. Italian anchovy is consumed fresh or processed as salted anchovy, anchovy in oil, or marinated anchovy. This case study, published in February, focuses on salted anchovy and anchovy in oil. Italian anchovy production is broken into two types; Small-scale production marketed regionally and industrial scale production, based partly on imports from countries like Albania, Morocco, and Tunisia, of which circa three fourths is sold within Italy and the rest is exported. In 2015 imports of anchovy reached a little over 26,000 tonnes while about 20,000 tonnes were exported and some 44,000 tonnes were consumed in Italy. For one kilogram of processed anchovy (preserved in oil or salted) between 1,9 and 2,3 kg of fresh anchovy is needed due to losses during the different production stages. Fish accounts for 9% to 20% of the cost of the final product to consumers which ranges from EUR28/kg to EUR53/kg for small-scale production of anchovy preserved in olive oil in the Ligurian area. Labour costs account for 14%-16% while distribution costs account for the largest share (between 28% and 53%) of the final consumer price. More detailed information is available online at www.eumofa.eu/eumofa-publications.
In October 2017, the European Commission and the Estonian Presidency of the EU Council jointly organised the conference “Beyond 2020: Supporting Europe’s Coastal Communities” in Tallinn, Estonia on the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) both now and beyond 2020. The conference, which had more than 70 speakers and attracted some 300 participants has now presented its conclusions from the event. The main findings are that the EMFF, as the EU’s main funding instrument for the fisheries sector, helps to support the CFP objectives by making fishing and aquaculture more sustainable, competitive and innovative, by increasing the availability of data and strengthening control as well as by enhancing the conservation of the environment and natural resources.
By the end of 2016, nearly 6,500 projects had been selected for financing. More than half of them are designed to help SMEs in fisheries and aquaculture become more competitive. More than a third of them are also designed to preserve and protect the marine environment and to promote resource efficiency. Although the EMFF has helped to mobilise more than 1 billion euros of public and private investment, there was common understanding among participants that efforts need to be stepped up to maximise EMFF achievements.
Looking beyond 2020, the conference examined in detail the challenges and opportunities facing the fisheries and maritime sectors. Although the sector has become more sustainable and competitive, e.g. with the fleet generating nearly 800 billion euros in net profit in 2015 alone, there was widespread agreement that there are still a number of important challenges ahead for which support will be needed. At the same time, participants largely concurred on the need to avoid harmful subsidies which increase fleet capacity, thus leading to over-fishing, and to focus instead on the protection of existing resources and marine ecosystems.
At the end of 2017, the Russian Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) lifted a two-year ban on the import of canned fish from Latvia and Estonia. Introduction of the ban in mid-2015 was reportedly related to insufficient safety control of the products and lack of traceability. The ban affected 31 processing plants in Estonia and 44 plants in Latvia, as well as consumers in Russia to whom canned smoked sprats in oil from Baltic states represented “taste of childhood”.
In the summer of 2017, experts from Rosselkhoznadzor inspected several enterprises in Latvia and Estonia and as a result decided to allow the import of canned fish into Russia from two companies - SIA Karavela from Latvia and DGM Shipping from Estonia.
Lifting the import ban on the remaining producers will be considered in the light of the information presented by competent authorities in Latvia and Estonia showing that the causes for the alleged violations were eliminated.
According to a new report, Brexit can cost Danish jobs and have large consequences for a number of Danish fishing ports. The report, which focused on Danish fisheries and Brexit, was commissioned by the Danish Government and produced by Aalborg University. The report estimates that fish worth DKK1bn (EUR134m) and between 272 and 844 Danish jobs are at risk if the British government excludes Danish fishermen from fishing in British waters. It is the first concrete estimate on the number of jobs at stake for Danish fishing in the negotiations on Brexit. The report bases its calculations on two scenarios, both of which imply that foreign fishermen are excluded from British waters. This will especially affect Skagen, Thyborøn, Hirtshals and Hanstholm, where Denmark’s largest fishing port is located. Søren Qvist Eliasen, lead author of the report, says Brexit will have a huge impact on these communities if it happens at once. On the other hand, he says these communities are highly dynamic and used to the fact that fishery resources fluctuate, and therefore “they are actually quite flexible.”
At the fish factory TripleNine in Thyborøn, fish from the British part of the North Sea is a major raw material in the production of fishmeal. The managing director of TripleNine’s department in Denmark, Peter Jensen says he is not thinking about it, but admits to being worried about the final outcome. The company has 140 employees in Esbjerg and Thyborøn and is owned by Danish fishermen. Last year TripleNine landed a profit of more than 100 million. Mr Jensen explains that a large reduction in the raw material will mean scaling down the factory with a concomitant loss of jobs. In total, a quarter of Danish fishermen catch in the British part of the North Sea. According to the report, there are 35 large Danish vessels fishing mainly for mackerel, herring, sandeel and sperling. They are able to do this because EU rules allow fishermen to fish their quota in all EU waters, a facility that the British government has said that it may want to close. Michael Gove, UK Fisheries Minister, told the BBC in an interview that Britain wanted to control and determine the conditions for access. “When we leave the EU, we become an independent coastal state, which means we can extend the control of our waters for up to 200 miles.” Karen Ellemann, Danish Fisheries Minister is preparing to negotiate fisheries with the other EU countries and Britain in the coming year. According to her, a hard Brexit that closes British waters to the EU will have major financial consequences for Danish fishing. Karen Ellemann hopes that the EU can reach an agreement with Britain such as it has with Norway giving it access to fishing in the British North Sea in the future.
Irina Makarenko, Pollution Monitoring and Assessment Officer and Prof. Halil Ibrahim Sur, Executive Director of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution met with Aina Afanasjeva, Director of Eurofish International Organisation and Toni Bartulin, Eurofish Project Manager, at the secretariat premises in Istanbul just before Christmas 2017, to discuss the commission’s involvement in EMODnet, a project that collects, processes, and distributes data from the marine environment. Eurofish is a partner in EMODnet’s Human Activities, one of seven data portals.
Prof. Sur gave a detailed overview of the current situation in the Black Sea Commission, its activities and priorities, and stressed the importance of good cooperation among the members (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine). The main challenges to Black Sea sustainability include pollution from land-based sources and maritime transport. Sustainable management of marine living resources, and sustainable human development are priorities for the commission. He welcomed the EMODnet initiative highlighting the need to involve as many stakeholders as possible in the project. Ms Afanasjeva presented the core activities of Eurofish and of the EMODnet Human Activities project and expressed her interest to further deepen the cooperation with all Black Sea member states with regards to data sharing with interested stakeholders such as researchers, policy-makers and other parties. The meeting concluded with an agreement to cooperate on EMODnet Human Activities related topics.
Satellite imagery and big data infrastructure offer a more cost-effective way to tighten enforcement against IUU fishing, according to a report released by the UK-based charity, Overseas Development Institute (ODI). There are however problems that hinder efficiency.
Private monitoring initiatives like Global Fishing Watch and FishSpektrum are undermined by limited size and insufficient quality of their datasets, the report finds. One problem is tracking vessel location. Large vessels can be monitored as they are legally required to be fitted with communication equipment known as vessel monitoring systems (VMS) or automatic identification systems (AIS), however smaller fishing boats do not need these to be installed or the systems are simply switched off to avoid surveillance. One of the biggest problems is the absence of a unique global database of fishing vessels. Vessel records are dispersed across national ship registries, licencing bodies, national radio bodies, regional fisheries management organisations, and international organisations. The confusion multiplies as vessels change owners and operators, are reflagged, and are registered with new authorities. Identifying individual ships and their owners is therefore a significant challenge. As a result, most of the private initiatives have developed their own vessel databases to pool and correlate static data from varying sources. These range in size from around 75,000 vessels to over 779,00, but a far cry from FAO estimates of 4.6 million fishing vessels in 2016. Better data management and closer collaboration between the different initiatives to gather, standardise, and analyse this data will contribute to making initiatives against illegal fishing more effective. The report calls in fact for a single unified database, if the fight against IUU fishing is not to be an uphill battle.
Japanese seriola (Seriola lalandi) farms run by Kurose Suisan and Global Ocean Works are the first in the world to be certified to the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) standard. Yellowtail is the most widely farmed finfish in Japan and an integral and historical part of many coastal communities. Kurose Suisan achieved the certification in December 2017 after an independent assessment, following the ASC multi-site approach, of three sites – Kushima, Uchinoura and Nobeoka Farma – by SCS Global Services. The ASC Seriola and Cobia Standard, launched just over a year ago, addresses the key negative environmental and social impacts associated with seriola farming. The standard requires that farms preserve local habitats and biodiversity, minimise fish escapes, conserve water and water quality, and manage production with minimal use of therapeutics and antibiotics. The responsible sourcing of feed ingredients, including strict limits on the use of wild fish as an ingredient, and full traceability back to a responsibly managed source, are additional demands that farms are expected to fulfil.
The value of Vietnam’s seafood exports reached an all-time high in 2017 and the country is aiming to better this in 2018, reports Seafood Source. The latest data from Vietnam Customs show seafood exports were worth EUR6.8 billion (USD8.3 billion) in 2017, an increase of 18 percent compared with 2016. Vietnams’s vice minister for agriculture, Vu Van Tam said exports in 2018 aim at EUR 7.3 billion, up 8.2 percent from 2017. Shrimp and pangasius are Vietnam’s two major seafood export products. In 2017, the export value of shrimp rose 21 percent year-on-year to EUR3.11 billion, while that of pangasius increased nearly four percent to EUR1.47 billion. Despite the higher rate of inspections recently initiated in the US, imports of Vietnamese seafood were worth EUR1.2 billion. However, the E.U. was the top destination for seafood products from Vietnam in 2017 for the first time. A top priority for Vietnam’s agriculture and the country’s seafood industry will be to get the E.U. to withdraw the so-called “yellow card’, which was imposed by the European Commission in October 2017 in response to the country’s shortcomings in dealing with domestic IUU fishing problems. Since then, Vietnam has taken a series of legislative and administrative measures to counter the problem.