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DECISIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE SEVENTH SESSION OF THE COFI SUB-COMMITTEE ON FISH TRADE, BREMEN, GERMANY, 22-25 MARCH 2000


41. The item was introduced by the Secretariat and Ms Jane Willing, the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade, and discussed on the basis of documents COFI/2001/4 and COFI/2001/Inf.7. The second draft of the Technical Guidelines for Articles 11.2 and 11.3 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries had also been made available to delegates.

42. The Committee expressed its satisfaction with the quality of the work of the Sub-Committee and the important role played by FAO in the field of fish marketing development through information and provision of technical advice. Specifically the benefits that countries derived from the services as members of the Fish Info Network were highlighted. In particular, the fruitful cooperation of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade with the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) was acknowledged with appreciation. There were several examples mentioned where the support of the CFC could be highly desirable.

43. The Committee endorsed the report of the Seventh Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and provided a number of pertinent observations.

44. The Latin American and Caribbean countries expressed serious concern regarding restrictions on trade and use of fishmeal for animal feed on the grounds of alleged link to the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). They likewise called upon FAO to closely monitor scientific development on this subject and the safety of fishmeal in animal feeding and to report back regularly to Member countries on this matter. They also noted that they did not consider trade bans in this connection to be justified. It was agreed that the subject should be placed on the agenda of the Eighth Session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade.

45. Many Members expressed their concern about the restrictions being imposed on trade in fish products through various discriminatory tariffs and non-tariff barriers.

46. Several Members noted that the second draft of the Technical Guidelines for Articles 11.2 and 11.3 of the Code of Conduct constituted a considerable improvement over the first version, and the Secretariat was encouraged to work further on them with due cooperation from its Members, taking into account the work carried out by other international organizations with relevant experience, such as Codex Alimentarius (CODEX), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

47. Several Members expressed appreciation for the valuable contribution of the FAO/DANIDA project on Fish Quality Assurance to capacity building and improvement in seafood safety in many developing countries. In this regard the need for further training and assistance in the field of quality control and seafood safety measures, risk analysis, and the application of the relevant WTO agreements was stressed both in relation to the positive contribution of developing countries to international fish trade as well as consumer protection in national markets. Some Members expressed their willingness to support such efforts.

48. Appreciation was expressed to FAO for strengthening the INFOFISH network and in particular the reactivation of INFOSAMAK and the relocation of its headquarters to Morocco. Some Members informed the Committee on their recent signing of the EUROFISH agreement and urged other States also to sign the Agreement to establish the organization.

49. The high costs of monitoring the impact of environmental pollution on fish safety were mentioned as a specific burden for developing exporting countries. FAO and WHO were asked to assist in finding low cost solutions of handling such issues.

50. The Committee was informed of eco-labelling schemes in some countries, such as in the Nordic countries and Japan. An exchange of views on eco-labelling showed it was recognized as a growing and important issue that might lead to serious concerns among the parties involved. Some Members expressed their deep concern that a private initiative such as this could become an additional barrier to trade especially if it were not based on scientific and objective criteria. However, there were diverse views on this matter and no mandate was given for convening a second technical consultation. The Committee agreed that the Secretariat should continue to monitor developments in this field and inform the membership through relevant technical publications, in order to develop criteria to guide Member countries.

51. It was agreed that the agenda for the Eighth Session of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade should also include an item on the feasibility and practicality of harmonizing catch certification used by some regional fishery management bodies. It was pointed out that with the aim to prepare suitable recommendations to the Sub-Committee this issue should be considered by an expert consultation in conjunction with the regional fishery bodies concerned and taking into account the objectives of these certification schemes. Some Members expressed the view that when any recommendation was developed, it should not result in greater costs for countries or their industries.

52. Many Members requested that FAO's policy on the use of the official languages of FAO should be applied at the Sub-Committee level as is the case with its parent body.

53. The Committee expressed its appreciation for the generosity of the Hanseatic City of Bremen in hosting the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and welcomed the offer to host the next Session of the Sub-Committee.


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