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Understanding fish trade: Preparing for Agadir

Fish and fishery products are among the most traded food commodities worldwide

Fish and fishery products are among the most traded food commodities worldwide. For many countries, fishery exports are essential to national economies.

Estimates for 2015 place the value of international fish trade at 130 billion USD, indicating a sharp drop from the fish trade peak of 144 billion USD reached in 2014. 

Although traded volumes remain steady over the two year period, the decline in value is largely due to currency fluctuations. 

The fisheries sector today  is operating in an increasingly globalized environment – where fish may be produced in one country, processed in a second, and consumed in a third. 

This dynamic environment provides opportunities but also presents numerous challenges to seafood sector operators as well as policy makers.

Many topics key to fish trade will be discussed at the upcoming Fifteenth session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) Sub-Committee on Fish Trade to be held 22-26 February 2016 in Agadir, Morocco.

The FAO Sub-Committee on Fish Trade has been held every two years since its first session took place in October 1986.

This FAO body brings together FAO member countries with an interest in fish trade, alongside industry and civil society organizations that participate as observers, to discuss various topics of interest and to inform the general session of FAO’s COFI, which will meet in Rome, Italy this July.

Numerous topics will be discussed at this week-long fish trade meeting, including:

  • Recent developments in fish trade
  • Building resilience along the value chain
  • Guidelines for Catch Documentation Schemes
  • Food quality and safety-related market access requirements
  • Trade in fisheries services
  • Voluntary Guidelines for Small-Scale Fisheries
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) – related activities
  • Monitoring the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
  • Impact of aquaculture supply on trade and consumption.

Leading up to the Agadir meeting, we will be publishing posts explaining the various issues on the agenda.

Audun Lem, Deputy-Director in FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources Division notes “The COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade is an excellent opportunity to bring together the Ministry officials and policy makers who shape fisheries trade policies in their countries and regions.

Trade in fisheries is changing rapidly today, and discussions taking place at these meetings ensure that FAO and its member countries are fully aware of new trends, opportunities and challenges in fish trade, and how to provide the best opportunities for countries that produce and export fish.

This dialogue assists us in our work of developing strategies to best position developing countries to develop their fisheries sector in a sustainable manner and to maximize their economic benefit from the growth we expect to witness in global fish trade.”

“Over time, the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade agenda has evolved in response to emerging issues and trends.  Although certain topics, such as market access and import regulations, remain constant, in recent years, delegates have been discussing issues such as certification, traceability, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, catch documentation, decent work and social conditions in the industry.

These are the issues that have recently been attracting media attention and that require broad regional and international discussion to better inform policy decisions.”

Click here to see the full provisional agenda and timetable and the background on the Fifteenth session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) Sub-Committee on Fish Trade. 

You can follow our live tweeting of the sessions throughout the event on @FAOfish, or by following the hashtag #COFIfishtrade.

Fishing in Bangladesh. For many countries, fishery exports are essential to national economies
A West African market selling smoked fish
Fishing supports the livelihoods of many coastal communities
Fishing boats in Morocco

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