EUROPE - Seafood products are among the most widely traded food commodities in the world, with total trade estimated at US$ 145 billion per year. As demand for healthier diets increases, opportunities for trade in fish and fish products are expanding. How countries can benefit from those opportunities was the subject of a regional workshop in Armenia.
FAO, in cooperation with EUROFISH and the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture, organized the three-day workshop for Central and Eastern European countries interested in international and intraregional trade in fish and fishery products, livelihoods and food security.
Representatives from Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Georgia, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia and Ukraine participated.
Capture fisheries and, to an increasing extent, inland aquaculture play an important role in the economies of many of the countries.
Fish processing for export represents a significant source of hard currency earnings and employment. Current low levels of fish consumption in these countries, and an abundance of rivers and lakes, indicate potential for improving food security using this natural resource.
The European Union is the world’s largest importer of seafood products, currently importing 68 per cent of the seafood it consumes, and actively working to increase the volume of fish farmed within the EU.
Topics on the workshop agenda included:
- global trends in seafood supply, demand, trade and prices
- fish trade and consumer trends in Europe
- aquaculture development and its contribution to fish trade
- fisheries trade and human nutrition
- the oceans economy, fisheries and WTO-related negotiations
- fisheries trade and the post-2015 development agenda
- product standards and certification systems for quality assurance and food safety
- traceability of seafood products along the value chain.
A session was also devoted to the controversial topic of voluntary seafood certification, commonly known as eco-labeling.
The current round of multilateral trade negotiations (the WTO Doha Development Agenda) remains stagnated on the issue of fisheries subsidies. However, some of the major trade issues facing the fisheries and aquaculture sectors are outside the realm of WTO negotiations, namely market measures that are either voluntary (eco-labels) or supported by governments to insure resource sustainability and deter Illegal Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing.
“International seafood value chains are evolving and becoming increasingly complicated,” said Audun Lem, deputy director of FAO’s fisheries and aquaculture policy and economics division.
“This creates additional reporting burdens for fish exporters, especially in developing countries and economies in transition who rely on small-scale fisheries and aquaculture producers.”
TheFishSite News Desk