This year, 2019, marks the year that the landing obligation comes into full effect. This ends the four-year phasing-in period. All catches of regulated commercial species are required to be landed and counted against the quota throughout the EU. This aims to stop the unsustainable practice of throwing unwanted fish back into the sea. However, reports show that the majority of the fish thrown back does not survive. Scientists believe that this will encourage fisherman to adapt and invest in selective gears to reduce these unwanted landings and improve the sustainability of fish stocks, however, they warn that there could be initial hardship for the industry and that fisheries data maybe compromised as this obligation is very difficult to monitor. Few within the industry believe that fishing vessels will follow the obligation. Currently, fisheries ministers throughout the EU are working on trade quota deals to ease the pressure on the industry.
The world’s largest wellboat, the Ronja Storm, was launched from the Cemre shipyard in Yalova, Turkey, where the 116 m long and 23 m wide vessel was constructed, and is now making its maiden voyage to Norway where it will be fitted out. Following this, the Ronja Storm will sail to Tasmania where it will join the Australian company Huon’s fleet. The vessel is to be used to transport and bathe salmon. Salmon are bathed in freshwater onboard the wellboat to treat them for amoebic gill disease. The freshwater causes the amoeba to drop off the gills of the fish. The vessel would be able to bathe an entire 240 m pen.The Ronja Storm is more than twice the size of the world’s previous biggest wellboat, and can hold over 12,000 cubic meters of water. In addition, it will contain technology that is at the cutting edge of salmon farming. The ship will have its own desalination plant, producing 700 tonnes of freshwater per hour. This will ensure efficient operations while reducing pressure on Tasmania’s freshwater supply. Peter and Frances Bender of Huon were recognised as the 2018 Australian Farmer of the Year and are currently the only salmon farmers in Australia to use wellboats in their operations. Image credit: Havyard
In December 2018 in Zagreb, Croatia, the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) Adria organized a roundtable discussion “Who is responsible for responsible fisheries”. The aim of the roundtable was to foster dialogue among the key national and international stakeholders responsible for fisheries in Adriatic, and to identify the actual and potential issues together with its solutions. “Fish stocks in the Mediterranean Sea are deteriorating at an alarming rate, and the Adriatic Sea is no exception. Open dialogue with all the sector’s stakeholders is key to the recovery of our resources and fisheries industry in Croatia. The mission of WWF is to facilitate effective cooperation among fishermen, administration and scientists,” stated Danijel Kanski, Marine Program Manager at WWF Adria in his opening remarks at the event.
The event gathered 40 participants from fisheries sector including fishermen, representatives of FLAGs, producer organisations, processors, international organisations, Croatian Chamber of Economy (HGK), NGOs and Ministry of Agriculture. During a panel moderated by Lav Bavcevic, University of Zadar, seven panellists presented their views on current issues and steps needed for resolving them ensuring sustainable fisheries in the Adriatic.
Hungary, one of the first countries (along with Latvia and Estonia) to sign the Eurofish Agreement in 2000, has now ratified it, making Hungary the thirteenth member of the organisation. The other members are Albania, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Romania, Spain, and Turkey. Dated 14 November 2018, the ratification has been confirmed by the FAO, the depositary of the EUROFISH Establishment Agreement.
We are delighted to welcome Hungary to the organisation, said Mauro Colarossi (Italy), the chairperson of the EUROFISH Governing Council. Hungary’s ratification not only strengthens the organisation, but also sends a strong signal to other countries in the region about the value that membership of EUROFISH brings. Aina Afanasjeva, Director of EUROFISH, added that other member countries also stood to gain from Hungary’s reputation for cutting edge research and development within the field of freshwater aquaculture as well as its extensive expertise and international links in this area, and that she looked forward to collaborating with Hungary for the benefit of all EUROFISH member countries. Mr Gábor Klenovics, Director of Fisheries, Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, expressed his satisfaction with the ratification saying that he looked forward to working with EUROFISH and the other member countries to face some of the many challenges threatening the inland fish farming sector.
A Scottish fish processor says many jobs are at risk because of the employment security uncertainties with the current Brexit agreement. The managing director of one of the largest family-owned seafood processors in Europe says many workers, although EU citizens, are not British nationals, and their right to employment in Scotland after Brexit is uncertain.
With a shortage of Scottish and other British citizens willing to work with seafood, he says fish processing companies like his may face pressure if they are forced to discharge current workers. Scottish workers have attractive alternatives in the oil and gas sector, for example, and fish processors must often rely on immigrant labour supply. The rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK is an important area of concern in Brexit negotiations, but it has not been fully clarified.
A positive outlook for rainbow trout and the insufficient use of available EMFF funds are among the observations in recent examinations of Spain’s aquaculture sector. A report from APROMAR says the situation after a 2016 judgement by Spain’s Supreme Court declaring that rainbow trout was an invasive species has been addressed by the Congress of Deputies. The report stated that APROMAR welcomed this as step in the right direction to return to normalize the cultivation of such an important species in Spain as rainbow trout. Rainbow trout enjoys a growing market in Europe, and several countries, from Turkey to Denmark, are leaders in its production. Spain’s expertise in aquaculture technology and marketing make rainbow trout a promising area for economic investment.
APROMAR also described the “disappointingly scarce use” of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The report stated that for practical purposes the development of aquaculture activities in Natura 2000 areas was very scarce and that applications to the EMFF continued to be insufficient and even reached historical lows when it was below 15%. There are even parts of the EMFF that have not yet been launched, such as the Financial Instrument, which is essential for large aquaculture companies to access support for fish processing and distribution.
The Eurobarometer, a survey since 1973 of economic and social indicators, operated by the European Commission, has found, once again, that Europeans love fish. European Commissioner for the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella reacted to the most recent report by highlighting the importance of ensuring the sustainability of European fisheries so that “…our citizens can enjoy these tasty products in the long term.” Considerable progress has been made in this regard over the last years, he said, adding that aquaculture too played an important role, “farmed fish from the EU is a sustainable source of protein and other nutrients. In a low-carbon society, its role will only increase.” Europeans spend twice as much, per person, on fish than do Americans because, according to the survey of people’s opinion, most (74% of survey respondents) find it healthy, and tasty. Europeans also prefer the local fishmonger, who sells local fish, rather than other retail channels, where the fish may be imported, and where the seller may not be as acquainted with seafood, how to treat it, recipes, and so on. Fishmongers also often offer a more varied assortment of seafood, which the survey respondents also valued. Trust was another issue, the respondents also indicated they felt greater confidence in their seafood purchases because of the strict EU rules on product quality, labelling, and other benefits.
Fishermen in Northern Ireland (NI) are troubled by EU demands to allow EU vessels full access to UK fishing waters following Brexit. Harry Wick, CAO of the Northern Ireland Fish Producers Organisation, who represents 75% of the NI fishing fleet, told the News Letter that the UK has the best fisheries waters in the EU but won’t have control over them, despite Brexit. His comments were made after the 27 remaining EU leaders published a statement that vowed to protect their own interests, on issues from fishing to fair competition and the rights of citizens. Calling the current situation unfair, Mr Wick noted that French and Spanish fisherman today take 15% of prawns from the Irish Sea; the French catch 85% of cod from the English Channel while the UK gets only 11%; the UK holds 70% of the Irish sea territory but is only allowed 30% of cod from it; EU vessels catch six times as much fish in UK waters as UK vessels catch in EU waters; and that more than nine of ten commercial fishermen in the UK voted for Brexit. As a response, EU fishermen argue that they have fished the areas for centuries and that their industries are heavily dependent on catches in UK water. They also point out that much of the UK’s own produce is exported to the EU. The French want the status quo to remain despite Brexit, said Mr Wick, but after Brexit we would expect our fair share from UK waters.
A 4-year collaboration agreement was signed by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA) and UNE, the Spanish Association for Standardisation building on a history of close collaboration going back to 2006. The two organisations have been cooperating to standardise processes and products in the fishing and aquaculture industry. The purpose of the new agreement is to develop a set of regulatory documents in matters concerning traceability, consumer information, work conditions, food hygiene and safety, and the marketing of fishing and aquaculture products.
The technical standards are developed by the UNE Technical Standardisation Committees, one for fishing, the CTN 195, and another for aquaculture, the CTN 173, and will result in a set of guidelines that can be used by relevant associations and other stakeholders on a voluntary basis. The guidelines will be developed by leading experts in their respective fields.
Recommendations by The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) sees a drastic reduction in fishing opportunities for mackerel (Scomber Scombrus) in 2019. ICES recommended a reduction of 42%, which would seriously affect the Cantabrian coastal fleet.
Such a drastic reduction comes off the back of the latest ICES study on the population of mackerel. Scientists from ICES suggest that the total catches should not exceed 318 403 tonnes in 2019. For 2018, The European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands agreed to a quota of 816 797 tonnes. 550 948 tonnes above the limit recommended by ICES for 2019.
Reasoning behind such a drastic reduction is twofold. The decrease in the spawning biomass since 2011 and a fishing mortality that biologists consider is above the maximum sustainable yield (MSY).
If these recommendations are followed it would leave the EU with approximately half of the 318 043 tonnes due to distributions it makes with Norway and the Faroe Islands. Due to EU allocations Spain would have 76 % of the total or equivalent to 11 927 tonnes.