Implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management


On 24th June, the EFFOP secretariat participated in the Fisheries Science Seminar on 24 June 2022 organized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE). The focus of the seminar (webinar) was on “Implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM)”.

In the current context of rapid climate and ocean changes, but also of increasing awareness about a wide range of various human impacts on ecosystems, there are growing needs to further take into account ecosystems considerations when managing fisheries. The science seminar provided an opportunity to take stock of the most recent developments in implementing an EAFM, and to identify potential areas requiring further actions, as well as the corresponding needs in terms of the scientific advice required for the policy makers.

The seminar agenda can be downloaded here

The seminar was recorded and to watch the seminar click here.

A report from the seminar is available here

MSC Board Approves New Fisheries Standard


After four years of significant scientific research and consultation with over 1,000 stakeholders, the Marine Stewardship Council’s new Fisheries Standard has received unanimous approval from its Board of Trustees, which hailed it as a ‘major achievement’.

It addressed some of the most difficult issues facing the ocean, including protecting marine biodiversity and incentivising stronger ocean governance. It also aimed to improve accessibility to the MSC’s sustainability programme for small-scale and emerging market fisheries.  These improvements will ensure that MSC-certified fisheries continue to be recognised as world leaders in sustainability, helping to drive progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including the target to end overfishing.

The improvements of the new Fisheries Standard include:

  • A new approach to protect endangered, threatened or protected species. Fisheries will be expected to minimise their impacts on such species to help their population recover.
  • A “Fins Naturally Attached” policy will be mandatory in all fisheries that retain sharks. These measures will strengthen the existing ban on shark-finning in MSC-certified fisheries.
  • Some existing requirements have been stream-lined with the objective of making assessments more efficient and improvements in methods to aid data-limited fisheries, will increase accessibility.
  • New measures for multi-jurisdictional fisheries, managed by RFMOs, to secure credible, robust harvest strategies.
  • New evidence requirements will ensure that fisheries – especially those operating on the high seas with unwanted catch that includes, for example, marine birds – will have to produce stronger proof of how they are managing their impacts.

You can learn more about the new Standard, its objectives and revised areas here.

MEESO project stakeholder modelling workshop


EFFOP is partner in the MEESO project (Ecologically and economically sustainable mesopelagic fisheries). On Tuesday 21 June, we participated in a MEESO stakeholder modelling workshop. In the ocean the  mesopelagic zone extends from 200 to 1,000 meters below the surface. This area is known as the twilight zone, as it sits between the epipelagic zone, which receives the most light, and the bathypelagic zone, which receives no light.

The workshop discussed the scientific models used in the project in relation to a mesopelagic fishery. It was shown what the models can do, the parameters used and the indicators they produce. The models and its expected outcome were discussed.

A main goal in the MEESO project is to contribute to global food security by the investigation of the potential for sustainable fishing of mesopelagic species. There is a need for finding new raw materials to produce marine ingredients (fishmeal and fish oil) for feed in the growing aquaculture industry but also as food supplement for malnutritioned humans. Therefore, the MEESO project aim to find the balance between using the natural resources and at the same time not damaging the environment and sustainability.

A report from the workshop will be produced and if interested please feel free to contact the EFFOP secretariat for a copy when it is ready.

Scientific knowledge and major questions about the twilight zone’s role in carbon sequestration have recently been publiced in a report from WHOI  – read the report here. The report suggests new considerations and tools for decision-makers that can shape future marine policy.

Major Takeaways from the Biennial Conference


EFFOP Biennial Conference 2024


The time and venue of EFFOP’s next Biennial Conference was decided at the last General Assembly which took place in Skagen at the beginning of June.

It will take place from June 5th – June 7th 2024 in Estonia at the following hotel, located about half an hour away from Tallinn.

We are already looking forward to that event and hope to see many of you there!

EFFOP General Assembly 2022


On June 1st, 2022, EFFOP held its annual general assembly. Neither the chair nor the vice-chair was up for election, and the Executive Committee continued unchanged.

The Excom members are:

  • Frank Trearty, Ireland (Chair)
  • Gardar Svavarsson, Iceland (Vice-chair)
  • Christian Bisgaard, Germany, France and Spain
  • Johannes Palsson, Denmark
  • Kyrre Dale, Norway
  • Toby Parker, UK
  • Odd Eliasson, Faroe Islands
  • Toomas Kevvai, Estonia
  • Janis Zoldners, Latvia
  • Charles Goudon, Malta

At the meeting the chair gave his president report of the main activity in the year 2021 and first months of 2022.

President Report

Welcome to the Annual General Assembly 2022 of European Fishmeal, the association of European fishmeal and fish oil producers.

This report covers the main activity in the year 2021 and first months of 2022.

This year´s general assembly will once again be a physical meeting after two years of online general assemblies.

We are also very happy to welcome a record high number of attendees for our biennial conference June 1-2 in Skagen, Denmark, that we had to postpone from last year.

In the last year we have welcomed several new members to European Fishmeal and Fish Oil Producers (in short European Fishmeal or EFFOP).

Producer members are national associations or single producers from Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, France, Latvia, Malta, Norway, Spain, and UK. Producer members are represented in the Executive Board. Non-producing associated members are Alfa Laval, GEA, Haarslev, Norwegian Fishermen’s Sales Organization for Pelagic Fish, Hedinn, PerkinElmer, JS Proputec, Unit-Pump, Monts, 3A Antioxidants, Fish Facts, Fjell technology and FM Bulk handling.

2021 Budget
At the General Assembly 2020, a budget of 116,000 Euro was adopted for 2021.

The contribution of national members is based on the total production of the company (also when transnational) they represent. Fee calculation is based on the production two years previous, as this allows the annual GA to adopt budget and fees for the coming year. Associated members pay a fixed, uniform fee.

 2021 New strategy
The increased activity and membership of EFFOP led to the formulation of a new strategy and well-defined KPIs by the board in 2021 reflecting the wish for EFFOP to play a more prominent role in representing the interests of the fishmeal industry in EU-regulations affecting the industry.

EU decisions have a strong impact on the laws and policies that determine business operations. Global challenges such as climate change, food production systems, trade policy and energy taxation go beyond national borders, and consequently, political powers and competences are shifting from nation-states towards the EU institutions. That is why having a presence and network in Brussels is of growing importance to build alliances with decision makers and industry associations and make sure our voice is heard when future legislation is drafted.

The strategic actions are grouped into general issues and specific policy areas and technical focus points respectively.

On general issues the focus on the secretariat is on:

  • building a strong Brussels-based network,
  • providing effective internal and external communication,
  • maintaining EU Advisory Council influence and
  • organizing member conferences of high value to members.

On specific policy areas and technical focus points the secretariat is actively engaged in:

  • development and functioning of relevant certifications and standards,
  • contributing to relevant research projects
  • following and engaging in TAC and quota setting.

Strategic actions on specific regulations are defined as:

  • representing the interest of EFFOP in the current SA BREF revision,
  • lobbying for the Commission to set general rules for the weighing of catches from small pelagic fisheries and fisheries for industrial purposes landed fresh and unsorted in line with the EFFOP industry standard,
  • Continuing to lobby for the possibility for HC oil production by arguing that the hygiene regulations allow for the reception and processing of different types of raw materials in the same facility, separating the production in time,
  • Arguing for an amendment of the EU feed ban to allow fishmeal as feed for ruminants,
  • Screening of relevant EFSA initiatives and regulations on persistent organic pollutants and action when needed,
  • Following closely initiatives in the Fit for 55 package and establishing a policy on energy in dialogue with the EFFOP board,
  • Development of Life Cycle Analysis for EFFOP production on fishmeal and fish oil and representing the industry in development of EU PEF Category rules.

Meeting activity
In line with the strategy and newly defined priorities the EFFOP secretariat has established closer contact to relevant industry associations such as FEFAC, Copa Cocega, EFPRA, Petfood Manufacturers Association, Supplements Europe as well as to relevant representatives from EFFOP member states in Brussels, European parliamentarians, and European Commission representatives.

The secretariat set up meetings with industry associations and DG Santé in Brussels in March 2022 to discuss some of the most pressing regulatory issues such as the fish oil for human consumption, feed ban for ruminants, new EFSA opinion on ethoxyquin, use of animal byproducts for biogas and the energy directive.

For the future there is an ambition to increase technical knowledge and establish better screening for new legislation in areas such as energy, environment, food, feed, fisheries, PEFCR, taxonomy regulation.

European Advisory Councils
European Fishmeal is now member of five EU Advisory Councils, as membership of the Baltic Sea AC and the North Sea AC has recently been transferred from Marine Ingredients Denmark to EFFOP. This means we have direct access to EU regulatory issues through the Pelagic AC, the Market AC, the Aquaculture AC, the Baltic Sea AC, and the North Sea AC.

We are participating actively in working group meetings as well as executive committee meetings and general assemblies with special focus on a few important topics:

In the Market Advisory Council discussions have among other topics been on implications of the war in Ukraine, sustainability standards, dioxin limits in fishmeal, market access, EU Taxonomy, EU fisheries control regulation, voluntary sustainability claims of seafood products, and Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR). Regarding the latter, EFFOP has a seat in the working group involved in the development of the PEFCR for marine fish.

The Pelagic Advisory Council has a consistent focus on biological advice and development of management plans for pelagic fish stocks in the Northeast Atlantic. Other points on the agenda are the EU Fisheries Control Regulation and implementation of the landing obligation, the impacts of climate change on fisheries and the marine environment and marine spatial planning. The work programme for the Pelagic AC in the coming year will still focus on providing advice on relevant issues related to the pelagic stocks and in addition the following topics: multi-annual management strategies, ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, regionalization, fisheries science, and other collaborations.

In the Aquaculture Advisory Council, we have participated in focus groups with the following topics: EU biodiversity strategy, consumer information, EU farm to fork strategy, food security, strategic guidelines for aquaculture, EU Green Deal. Our contributions have mainly been information about the relatively low environmental impact of harvesting marine proteins from fisheries and aquaculture compared to animal proteins from land. We have informed about the responsible sourcing of raw materials for fishmeal and fish oil production in Europe.

In the Baltic Sea AC, we have followed the developments of recommendations for the revision of the EU Common Fisheries Policy, EU Fisheries Control Regulation, marine protected areas, marine spatial planning, and ecosystem changes. A trial fishery for an increasing population of sticklebacks has been initiated by Swedish and Danish universities. The goal is a new raw material for the Baltic fishmeal and fish oil factories.

North Sea AC focus areas in 2021-2022 have been TAC and quotas, fisheries regulations and EU-UK cooperation after Brexit, biodiversity, marine spatial planning and the impacts of human activities on the fish stocks.

On the major regulatory issues, we have worked intensively with the ongoing revision of the Slaughterhouses and Animal Byproducts BREF, where EFFOP holds a seat in the EIPCCP Technical Working group in Sevilla on behalf of the European fishmeal industry.

The first draft of the SA BREF was sent out on the 29th of June, and the well over 700 pages are the result of the information exchange that has been conducted since the kick-off meeting held on 25-28 June 2019 in Sevilla. EFFOP’s Technical Working Group (TWG) has played an active role in the BREF process since then, producing technical papers, position papers and 80 comments to the first Draft.

Our input is coordinated closely in our TWG, where we decide on appropriate actions. The information and comments provided by the TWG will, along with the comments made by other stakeholders, be used to revise the current draft (D1) of the SA BREF. The next and final meeting of the BREF is scheduled for Q4 2022 or Q1 2023.

The secretariat will maintain a high level of information throughout the BREF, and the quality of the continued feedback from the members in the TWG has been – and will continue to be, of the utmost value and importance.

Control, weighing and sampling
Another pressing regulatory issue is the Revision of EU´s Fisheries Control Regulation and development of an Industry Standard for draining and weighing of bulk unsorted pelagic landings for fishmeal and fish oil production.

The European Fisheries Control Regulation is currently being renegotiated. EFFOP has been engaged in the part of the negotiations concerning requirements for the handling of landings of fresh pelagic fish (bulk landings) arguing that a uniform weighing regime should be established to ensure reliable weighing data for catch and bycatches based on automatic and transparent systems operated by the authorities or by authorized independent 3rd parties.In close collaboration with our members, we have developed an Industry Standard for draining and weighing of unsorted pelagic landings for fishmeal and fish oil production. With the standard we can document how credibility, traceability, accountability, and sustainability is central to the fish processing industries. The industry standard is a supplement to the current national legislations and international agreements and will contribute to ensuring correct and impartial weighing of unsorted pelagic landings for fishmeal and fish oil production in Europe. The standard is an important contribution to achieve a harmonized and sustainable future for pelagic fisheries and landings of unsorted pelagic fisheries in Europe. It is the hope that other parts of the world will commit to equally accurate and sustainable reporting of pelagic landings.

Certifications and standards
On certifications and environmental standards EFFOP holds an important role in coordinating European input towards Marin Trust, MSC, ASC as well as environmental standards such as PEFCR and LCAs.

European Fishmeal follows the development in the MarinTrust Standard closely. Marin Trust is an important global standard. However, European Fishmeal members have some concerns about the developments, costs and functioning of MarinTrust and find it increasingly difficult to see a global “one size fits all” standard also accommodate the specific regulatory environment of European production. We have provided our input to the ongoing development of MarinTrust Version 3 and expect to see the European proposals and concerns reflected.

European Fishmeal has contributed to the development of the ASC Feed Standard arguing especially that terrestrial plant ingredients and terrestrial animal ingredients should be subjected to the same level of scrutiny applied to marine-source materials. We welcome the comprehensive Feed Standard that will become effective by September 2022, when feed mills become eligible for certification and held a meeting with the ASC spring 2022 to discuss byproduct certification and the due diligence procedure defined by the ASC.

Communication and media
European Fishmeal is active on Twitter and LinkedIn, where we track key European stakeholders, as well as distribute stories from the industry. We have 550 followers on LinkedIn and 450 on Twitter, increasing every month. The website had 5.270 hits last year, which is a 27% increase from last year.

Raising our presence on the social media platforms makes us more visible and able to reach more stakeholders such as professionals within and around the industry as well as authorities from all EFFOP member states and within the European Union. Furthermore, we send out regular newsletters to members and a wide circle of relevant stakeholders. Currently, 235 people receive our newsletter.

Current participation of European Fishmeal in research projects is:

Development of Management Strategy Evaluations (MSEs) based on the Fmsy values obtained from the Fmsy-project for six high profile fish stocks (The MSE-project).
The Fmsy-project is developing a more ecosystem-based approach to estimation of the biological reference point was supported and initiated with financial funding from European Fishmeal. The final report was written by several highly recognized scientists. The project concludes that managing the Northeast Atlantic fisheries using the new Fmsy values could increase the sustainable catches by several million tonnes per year compared with a management based on the current Fmsy values. For managers to use other management strategies than the traditional ICES strategy, new Management Strategy Evaluations (MSEs) are needed, and an MSE-project was set up to develop these detailed Management Plan Evaluations. In 2021, funding has been provided for a 3-year PhD in fish population dynamic and ecology and the MSE-project.

Ecologically and economically sustainable mesopelagic fisheries (MEESO)
The MEESO project: “Ecologically and economically sustainable mesopelagic fisheries (MEESO)” funded by the EU Horizon 2020, 2019-2023. The role of European Fishmeal in the project is to contribute to WP3 “Processing and screening of mesopelagic resources and fishing technology development”. Especially Task 3.5 “Scaling of processes and market prototype testing” of WP3 will be important for European Fishmeal. European Fishmeal has been granted an amount of 31,500 € for our participation in the project.

EFFOP has participated in industry workshops, most recently with a presentation by the EFFOP president Frank Trearty at a meeting in Ireland.

Nordic Seals project
The project is supported by the Nordic Council‘s Working Group for Fisheries. The Nordic seals project is a network program which is to gather, analyze and disseminate information on the seal populations in the North-Atlantic and adjacent waters ([1]). The project was hosting a workshop for specially invited stakeholders on 29 April 2021. The project findings will be presented at the EFFOP members conference in June in Skagen and will contribute to informed discussions on the future of seal management.

I would like to end this annual report by thanking all the European Fishmeal members, associated members – new and old – and the Secretariat for its work during the past years. I hope to continue the positive dialogue and fruitful cooperation within the organization.

Frank Trearty
EFFOP president