Ahead of the Council meeting on Fisheries taking place in mid-December, the Commission has adopted its proposal for fishing opportunities, the Total Allowable Catches (TACs), in 2020 for 72 stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Quotas for 32 stocks will increase or remain the same, while 40 stocks will have their quota reduced. The quotas are set for most commercial fish stocks at levels that maintain or restore them to health, while allowing the industry to take the highest amount of fish. The proposal follows advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Sustainable fishing has made substantial progress in the EU: in 2019, 59 stocks are being fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield levels, up from 53 in 2018 and compared to only 5 in 2009, meaning that the fishing pressure on the stocks is limited to a level that will allow a healthy future for the fish stocks' biomass, while taking into account socio-economic factors. As the size of some key fish stocks is increasing – for instance, haddock in the Celtic Sea and sole in the Bristol Channel – so has the European fishing sector’s profitability which will reach an estimated €1.3 billion in 2019.
Serious shortcomings exist in the mechanisms that Ecuador has put in place to ensure compliance with its international fishing obligations according the European Commission. The legal framework in place in the country is outdated and not in line with international and regional rules for the conservation and management of fishing resources, and law enforcement is hampered by this outdated legal framework. In addition, inefficient administrative procedures and a lenient attitude towards infringements means the sanctions regime is neither depriving the offenders from the benefits gained from IUU fishing, nor deterring it. Deficiencies in terms of control, notably over the activity of the tuna fishing and processing industries, undermine the reliability of the traceability system upon which the certification of the legality of the catches is based.
US President Donald Trump has decided to suspend trade preferences for Thailand's seafood industry following the country’s failure to improve worker rights amid allegations of the use of slave labour and trafficking among its migrant workforce. All Thai seafood products will lose their eligibility for duty-free imports under the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme, which is estimated to be worth USD 1.3 billion, according to Bloomberg News, due to longstanding workers’ rights issues in the seafood and shipping industries. The suspension will be implemented at the end of April 2020. Other items losing duty-free preferences include fruits and vegetables, garment products and electrical appliances.
The European Commission has adopted a proposal offering support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to fishermen affected by the closure of the Eastern Baltic cod fishery to permanently decommission their fishing vessels. Cod fisheries is important in the Eastern Baltic Sea, but the stock is in very poor shape. At the Council meeting in mid-October, fisheries ministers agreed on a Commission proposal to reduce fishing possibilities in 2020 to almost zero. While this step is necessary to give the stock a chance to recover, it also means severe and unavoidable economic hardship for the fleets and fishing communities traditionally fishing this stock.
A new testing platform, developed by Norway-based Orivo in collaboration with BioMar, makes use of advanced DNA-technology. The test determines the species composition of marine ingredients with a high level of precision, able to detect the presence of even very small amounts of DNA. BioMar believes that DNA-testing of marine ingredients in the aquaculture industry is a natural answer to the demand from customers and stakeholders for improved transparency and traceability throughout the seafood value chain.
A social agenda for the artisanal fishing sector was presented by the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA), as part of a package of measures put together by the government to create a more equitable society in Chile. The initiative consists of nine actions that will directly benefit the artisanal sector along Chile's 6,435 km coastline with an estimated investment of USD600 million (ca. EUR543 million). All the measures will be initiated by the end of the year. The actions have been developed with the assistance of the National Institute for Sustainable Development of Artisanal Fisheries and the Organisation of Small-scale Aquaculture (Indespa), both of which will have a key role in the implementation of some of the initiatives. The initiatives include providing support for aging fishermen, creating a registry of artisanal fisheries though which fishermen can draw on support, solar powered desalination plants that will allow the opening of restaurants and other tourist businesses, financing for algae growing and for small fish farms, value-adding initiatives, the promotion of seafood consumption, and the creation of a school for fishermen with free training programmes for those working in the artisanal fishing sector.
To understand and interpret two distinct and opposing trends in global marine and inland fisheries FAO is organising a symposium on 18-21 November 2019 in Rome. The crucial and growing contribution fisheries make to food, nutrition and livelihood security represents one trend, while the overall decrease in the proportion of marine fish stocks caught within biologically sustainable levels especially in least developed regions, represents the other. Given these developments the symposium aims to identify the challenges to improve the sustainability of fish resources, establish the status of global and regional fisheries sustainability, define what constitutes evidence and discuss how to ensure an evidence basis for decision making, and finally outline what society expects from marine and inland fisheries in the 21st century. The debates and conclusions will contribute to the development of a new vision for the way capture fisheries are perceived and used, showing how the sector can respond to the complex and rapidly changing challenges facing society.
Aquaculture in Spain 2019 is the latest edition of APROMAR’s annual report depicting the development of the aquaculture sector in Spain and Europe. The report gives companies working in the sector, along with public administrations an overview of the sector with information from the European Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPA), the European Federation of Aquaculture Producers (FEAP) and the FAO.
In 2017 the Spanish aquaculture sector comprised 5,100 aquaculture establishments in operation. Of these, 4,793 focused on mollusks while 187 were inland aquaculture farms, 79 coastal establishments while 41 were farming in the sea. Seabass was the most cultivated fish species in 2018 with a 22,460 tonnes production. The Region of Murcia produced 7,525t (34%), followed by the Canary Islands 5,793t, (26%), the Valencian Community 4,633t (21%), and Andalusia 4,479t (20%). Other important aquaculture species include rainbow trout (18,856 tonnes), gilthead seabream (14,930 tonnes), turbot (7,450 tonnes) 99% of which was produced in Galicia. Throughout Spain 140,050 tonnes of aquaculture feed was used in 2018 with 85% used to produce marine fish and the remaining 15% used for freshwater aquaculture. Spain is the EU member state with the highest aquaculture production touching 311,000 tonnes or 23.0% of the total in 2017.
The Spanish publication is available on eurofish.dk/spain
The use of slave labor to catch fish is an epidemic whose severity needs no elucidation. New technology, however, may hold the key to fighting forced labour in the fishing industry. An estimated 21 million people are trapped in enslaved labor around the world. Many of these slaves are forced to work on fishing vessels, with illegal fishing practices generating over $23 billion each year. The tendency is for men who are seeking work to board ships willingly, but then once they are isolated at sea, their wages are withheld, and they are subjected to violent, bleak working conditions for years.
On some of European waterways a fleet of kayaks have been fitted with an unusual accessory: A trash can. These bright green boats are free to rent, but volunteers are required to work for their trip by collecting floating waste. The initiative is the brainchild of GreenKayak, a Denmark-based environmental NGO with a mission to clean up the continent's canals, rivers and lakes. Volunteers can take to the water in one of the project's colourful two-person kayaks, equipped with paddles, life vests and trash pickers. While enjoying the tour, kayakers can pluck garbage from the water and fill the onboard trash can. Although still in its infancy, the scheme aims to address a growing global challenge. According to UN figures, about 13 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the world's oceans each year, the majority of it fed along rivers from land-based sources. This pollution damages marine life which reduces biodiversity and can potentially harm human health. Since the initiative launched in 2017, volunteers have collected over 15,000 kilograms of floating waste from Europe's waterways and the project is growing. The scheme, which started in Copenhagen is now operating all around Denmark as well as Norway, Ireland, Germany, and Sweden.