You are on page 1of 1


2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/189

(2003/C 137 E/213) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3294/02

by Bernard Poignant (PSE) to the Commission

(21 November 2002)

Subject: Health regulations and tellin fishing

In France, particularly in Brittany, there are a number of fishermen who make a living fishing for tellin
(small clams) on foot. As the environment in which tellin live is particularly fragile, the fishermen have
adopted an approach of sustainable management of the resources. They recognise the restrictions imposed
on them, in particular the healthiness of the site where they work. For many years the area has been closed
at regular intervals because of dynophisis during the summer when this micro alga proliferates because of
the heat.

However, this year, the fishermen were unable to resume their activities because of new rules on
dynophisis analyses and testing carried out on the tellin, which came into force last March. The incubation
test has now increased from 5 to 24 hours and the amount with which mice are inoculated is equivalent
to 5 grams of hepatopancreas or 25 grams of whole animal.

The amount of product inoculated and the 24-hour survival period for the mice are such drastic factors
that the tests have failed to produce any negative results for more than six months.

The situation is endangering the livelihood of the fishermen and the consequences are only too predictable;
whereas these fishermen have always insisted on the sustainable management and exploitation of this
resource, when the site reopens they will have no other choice but to increase their catches to offset the
loss of revenue over the past six months, which can only damage the state of tellin stocks.

What does the Commission intend to do to remedy this situation? Can any change in the decision be

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(18 December 2002)

The Commission is aware of the presence of marine biotoxins of the diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP)
complex, which represent a potential danger for human health. Commission Decision 2002/225/EC (1)
establishes the maximum levels of certain marine biotoxins of the DSP group and identifies the methods of
analysis. With this decision, a common and harmonised approach within Member States has been

Once the DSP is detected, it is compulsory to close the fishing area to avoid intoxication in the consumer.
This obligation is established in Council Directive 91/492/EEC (2). The Commission is aware that some
shellfish productions in Brittany have been closed for extended periods in recent months and this is an
issue which was discussed in general terms at the 7 November 2002 meeting of the Advisory Committee
on Fisheries and Aquaculture (Working Group II). The application of Decision 2002/225/EC will be
discussed at the forthcoming meeting of Biotoxin Reference Laboratories to be held in Brussels from
10-12 December 2002 and the Decision may be reviewed in the light of any new scientific advice.

Management of intertidal shellfish resources falls mainly within Member State competence. It is
commendable that the fishermen have adopted an approach of sustainable management of the tellin
resource. Once the beds are reopened, when the clams can safely be placed on the market for human
consumption, some increase in catch could indeed be anticipated due to the evolution of the resource
during the closure. On the other hand it would be short-sighted and non-sustainable to allow the beds to
be overexploited once production resumes.

(1) 2002/225/EC: Commission Decision of 15 March 2002 laying down detailed rules for the implementation of
Council Directive 91/492/EEC as regards the maximum levels and the methods of analysis of certain marine
biotoxins in bivalve molluscs, echinoderms, tunicates and marine gastropods, OJ L 75, 16.3.2002.
(2) Directive 91/492/EEC of 15 July 1991 laying down the health conditions for the production and the placing on the
market of live bivalve molluscs, OJ L 268, 24.9.1991.