Wednesday, June 17, 2015

17/06/2015: Workshop promotes capacity for fish trade and market access

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 is the subject of a regional workshop which opened in Yerevan, Armenia yesterday.

FAO, in cooperation with EUROFISH and the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture, organised 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 are participating.
Image: Andrea Pokrzywinski
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 percent of the seafood it consumes, and actively working to increase the volume of fish farmed within the EU.

Topics on the workshop agenda include:

  • 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 will be devoted to the controversial topic of voluntary seafood certification, commonly known as eco-labeling. The State of Sustainability Initiative, under the International Institute for Sustainable Development in Geneva, will present preliminary findings from its Marine Review of fisheries and aquaculture voluntary sustainability standards. The Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative – a consortium of 32 private companies and the German international development agency GIZ, with support from two NGOs and FAO – will present its global benchmarking tool.

There will also be presentations of country case studies by the delegations attending, and a field trip to Armenian aquaculture sites, organized by the Armenian Ministry of Agriculture.

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.”

Visit the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture site HERE.

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