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Improving fish safety and bolstering trade in Ukraine

Photo: ©FAO/Amico
Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa.
Photo: ©FAO
FAO’s Esther Garrido Gamarro and Ian Goulding, International consultant, alongside Ukrainian fish inspectors demonstrating organoleptic (sensory) evaluations during the hands-on inspection training.
Photo: ©FAO/Garrido Gamarro
Training workshops for Ukrainian fish inspectors consisted of a mix of classroom sessions and practical, hands-on training.

Fisheries and aquaculture play a significant role in Ukraine’s economy. Marine fisheries in Ukraine are carried out in the Black Sea and Azov Sea. There are 113 different marine fish species in the waters of Ukraine. Of these, 48 are commercially important. Ukraine’s marine fisheries on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov resulted in a total landing of 32 649 tonnes of fish and 1 668 tonnes of invertebrates in 2015.

Inland fisheries are especially significant. Currently only 37% of inland waters are utilized by commercial fisheries, and there is a much greater potential for inland fisheries production. Similarly, aquaculture has tremendous potential for expansion in this resource rich nation.

In 2015, a total of 8 600 tonnes of fish, crustaceans, fish products and other aquatic invertebrates were exported from Ukraine with a total value of 17.7 million USD. Ukraine mainly exports fresh fish, chilled fish and canned fish to neighbouring countries; Ukraine exports only 98 tonnes of frozen fish to Europe. Since the European Union and Ukrainian standards for fish safety and fish inspections are currently not harmonized, only a small percentage of Ukrainian fish exporters meeting EU requirements can export into that large neighbouring market.

Through financial support from Norway for the project “Coordinating the national food safety system for fishery products in Ukraine to move towards harmonization with the EU”, FAO is working with Ukraine to improve market access .

The implementation of the project began in July 2017 in coordination with the State Service of Ukraine on Food Safety and Consumer Protection, the State Agency of Fisheries of Ukraine and relevant stakeholders such as the Association of Ukrainian importers of fish and seafood and the Association of Ukrainian Aquaculture Society.

The project contains four components:


  •          Devising consistent fish safety regulations
  •          Building capacity for fish inspections
  •          Building capacity for laboratories analysing fish safety
  •          Training and capacity development for fish business operators

Work has already begun with training sessions helping to align Ukrainian fish safety state control and fish handling practices and guidelines with the European Union. This harmonization would allow Ukraine to be able to export their fish products to the world’s largest seafood importer.

In addition to ongoing work with ministries and food safety authorities on the production of harmonized guidelines, fish inspection manual and other tools, FAO has held two initial workshops training Ukrainian fish inspectors. According to FAO’s Esther Garrido Gamarro, Lead technical Officer for the project, is helping to train these inspectors, “The training has been very successful so far. We combined classroom training with field visits to fish markets where the inspectors could have hands-on training on the types of inspections they would carry out. This included an inspection of the fish market facilities, current practices and organoleptic evaluation. This practical training with the group was an ideal way for the inspectors to test out their training in a real-life environment.”

Another aspect of this project is helping build capacity in laboratories to cover all testing needs, including microbiology, biochemistry and DNA testing. As Garrido Gamarro notes, “DNA testing is especially important to identify cases of fish fraud. Rigorous analysis will be necessary to export into EU markets.”

“Additionally, through this project we are working to build capacity for business operators who will face new requirements that will become mandatory once the new regulations are in place. One of these will be the need for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system certification, something for which all stakeholders must be adequately trained. It is an important opportunity to trade fish products into a major import markets such as the EU, but we want to ensure that the Ukrainians are prepared for these changes and able to meet the new challenges. This project allows for extensive capacity development opportunities and knowledge sharing designed to help them access greater trade opportunities, and to receive higher earnings for their products.”


We will be following progress as this project promoting fish safety and inspections in Ukraine progresses,  as they work towards gaining access for their fish products in the EU and other international markets.

Photo: © FAO/Amico
Marine fisheries in Ukraine are carried out in the Black Sea and Azov Sea.
Photo: © FAO
Group photo of Ukrainian fish inspectors and FAO trainers in the fish market during the hands-on training.
Photo: © FAO/Amico
Ukrainian fish market.
Photo: © FAO/Garrido Gamarro
Measuring the temperature of the fish at the market during hands-on fish inspections.
Photo: © FAO/Amico
Odessa’s harbour on the Black Sea, Ukraine.
Photo: © FAO/Amico
Ships reflected on the Black Sea.


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