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Committee on Fisheries - Report of the Eighth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade - Bremen, Germany, 12-16 February 2002


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© FAO 2002

PREPARATION OF THIS DOCUMENT

This is the final report approved by the Eighth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade of the Committee on Fisheries.

Distribution/Distribución:

All FAO Members

Participants at the session

Other interested Nations and national and international organizations

FAO Fisheries Department

FAO Regional Fishery Officers

HP Selector

Committee on Fisheries

Report of the Eighth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade. Bremen, Germany, 12-16 February 2002.

FAO Fisheries Report. No. 673. Rome, FAO. 2002. 90p.

ABSTRACT

At its sixteenth session, the Committee on Fisheries decided to establish a Sub-Committee on Fish Trade to serve as a multilateral framework for consultations on international trade in fishery products. The Eighth Session of the Sub-Committee was held in Bremen, Germany, from 12 to 16 February 2002.

The Sub-Committee took note of important recent events concerning international trade in fishery products and considered specific issues of international trade, environment and sustainable fisheries development:

- Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and responsible fish trade

- Declaration from the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Ministerial Conference, and its impact on fish trade

- Safety and quality of fishery products

- Traceability of fish products and labelling issues

- CITES and fish trade

In its capacity as the International Commodity Body for fishery products, the Sub-Committee noted the progress achieved in its cooperation with the Common Fund for Commodities and endorsed several pipeline projects.

MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COMMITTEE ON FISHERIES

A. MATTERS FOR DECISION

None

B. MATTERS FOR INFORMATION

Status and important recent events concerning international trade in fishery products

The Sub-Committee noted that the decline in fish production that had occurred in 1997 and 1998, mainly due to decreased catches of small pelagics caused by “El Niño”, recovered back to 1996 levels in 1999 and 2000. Global imports of fishery products continued to increase exceeding US$59 000 million in the year 2000. Preliminary figures for exports in 2000 were US$54 400 million. (para. 9)

Delegates noted that fish products for food aid declined over the years in line with the overall decline in food aid. Several delegations underlined the importance of maintaining the role of fish in food aid and encouraged FAO to promote such use where feasible. FAO continues to have a role in monitoring the use of fish products for food aid. (para. 10)

The Sub-Committee noted the success of the FISH INFOnetwork. In view of its new location in Morocco, INFOSAMAK was duly noted as an important vehicle for promotion of trade in the region. (para. 11)

The Sub-Committee referred to the Declaration from the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Doha (November 2001) and recognized the call for further liberalization of trade, including the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Delegates also noted the inclusion of fisheries subsidies on the agenda for the new negotiations and supported the organization of a second FAO expert consultation on economic incentives in fisheries to be held in late 2002. (para. 14)

An analysis of the CITES Listing Criteria as applied to commercially-exploited aquatic species

The report from the FAO Second Technical Consultation was endorsed by the Sub-Committee on behalf of COFI and it was agreed that it should be conveyed to the CITES Secretariat as the formal FAO input to the CITES review process. It was agreed that the recommendations from the FAO Technical Consultation must be seen as a package, including the proposals on changes to the criteria, the emphasis on using the best scientific information available and the need for a strengthened scientific evaluation process and evaluating proposals on a case by case basis. (para. 16)

The observer from the CITES Secretariat expressed appreciation for the contribution of FAO to the re-evaluation of the CITES listing criteria and for the fresh perspectives that the involvement of FAO had brought to the process. (para. 19)

Developing a workplan for exploring CITES issues with respect to international fish trade

There was general agreement that many of the implications of a CITES listing had not been explored in detail and that there was a need for FAO to initiate such investigations in relation to exploited aquatic species. (para. 21)

Impact of Uruguay Round Agreements on international fish trade - information collection and impact studies

The Sub-Committee underlined the importance of free, fair and transparent/sustainable fish trade. The Sub-Committee requested FAO to continue its studies on the effects of international trade agreements on fish trade developments in both developed and developing countries. (para. 25)

Inter-regional fish trade, experiences with provisions of the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and informal trade barriers

The Sub-Committee underlined that many of the problems highlighted were linked to application of regulations and to lack of trade facilitation rather than to informal trade barriers as such. (para. 27)

Traceability of products from fisheries and aquaculture

The Sub-Committee noted the increased use of traceability requirements in major international markets for food products, including fish and fishery products. Many delegates underlined that such requirements should be limited to public health aspects in order to increase consumer confidence, while some delegations emphasized that consumers demanded provisions of broader information. (para. 30)

Furthermore, the Sub-Committee noted the WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration on the issue of labelling and asked for FAO’s engagement in this area, including labelling by environmental criteria. The Sub-Committee requested FAO to provide technical assistance and guidance to members in the forthcoming WTO multilateral trade negotiations in their work on the various dimensions of labelling, including those for commercial purposes, consumer protection, product quality and environment-related issues. (para. 32)

Delegates underlined that any work undertaken by FAO should be within the framework of the WTO agreements and with a view to avoid trade barriers and to ensure government involvement. This work should be considered the basis for a broad-based technical consultation on labelling and traceability issues in general, including eco-labelling. The Sub-Committee recommended that the next session of COFI should include an Agenda item on eco-labelling and traceability issues in general with a view to invigorate the workplan in FAO on this issue. (para. 33)

Feasibility and practicability of harmonizing catch documentation used by regional fishery bodies in relation to trade

Many delegations felt that the outcome of the Expert Consultation was a step in the right direction for the harmonization of catch documentation for trade purposes, but there was a need for further work. It was decided that the matter of catch documentation for trade purposes be referred to COFI for further consideration. (paras. 37, 38)

Safety, quality and fish trade

The Sub-Committee expressed satisfaction and support for the work of FAO in capacity-building through training and technical assistance for developing countries, the contributions to the Codex work on microbiological risk assessment and the development of a web-based system for the timely dissemination of relevant information on fish safety and quality, including information on fish quality and safety requirements in each member country. (para. 41)

Fishmeal

The delegates strongly endorsed that there is no epidemiological evidence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) being transmitted to ruminants or other animals by fishmeal and that there is likewise no evidence for the transmission to humans of the Creuzfeld Jacob Disease (vCJD) caused by prions using fish or fish products as vectors. Delegates requested FAO to continue monitoring scientific developments on this subject and to report regularly to member countries. (para. 43)

The delegation of the United States of America highlighted the importance of surveillance programmes for Salmonella in fishmeal and requested FAO to conduct a survey to that effect. (para. 46)

Enhancing the operations of the COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade

As a result of the discussion it was agreed that a vision paper should be prepared which, on the basis of the relevant provisions of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the FAO Strategic Framework and the discussion at the Twenty-fourth Session of COFI, would underscore the Sub-Committee’s major function of providing pertinent contributions to the implementation of the WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration. (para. 49)

Delegates insisted that the FAO Secretariat ensure the effective coordination between this Sub-Committee and the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture in accordance with their respective terms of reference. (para. 50)

COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade as International Commodity Body and its relationship with the Common Fund for Commodities

Some delegations expressed general appreciation for the projects financed by the CFC and their successful execution by the regional INFO Services. The Sub-Committee approved the pipeline projects. (para. 52)

Any other matters

The delegation of the People’s Republic of China requested that at future meetings of the Sub-Committee, Chinese interpretation should be provided and that documentation should also be translated into Chinese. The Secretariat noted this request. (para. 53)

The Sub-Committee acknowledged the usefulness of the Industry Workshop held on 13 February 2002 and noted the high quality of the presentation. It requested that a similar workshop be held in conjunction with the Ninth Session of the Sub-Committee. It further requested better advanced information on future workshops and that a summary of the results be presented in plenary. (para. 56)

Date and place of the Ninth Session of the Sub-Committee

The Sub-Committee received two offers for hosting the Ninth Session of the Sub-Committee: one from the City of Bremen and one from the government of Brazil. Many delegates supported the offer from Brazil, and the Secretariat was requested to make a detailed evaluation of the feasibility of both options, including the financial implications and present these to COFI in February 2003 in order to decide on the location. The expected date of the Session to be held in 2004 would be decided upon by the Director-General of FAO in conjunction with the Chairman of the Sub-Committee. (para. 59)

OPENING OF THE SESSION

1. The Eighth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) was held in Bremen, Germany, from 12 to 16 February 2002 at the kind invitation of the government of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Sub-Committee acknowledged the hospitality of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen. It was attended by 52 Members of FAO, by observers from three non-Members of FAO and by observers from 18 intergovernmental and international non-governmental organizations. The list of delegates and observers is given in Appendix B to this report.

2. Mr Grímur Valdimarsson, Director, Fishery Industries Division, delivered the opening address on behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Dr Jacques Diouf. The text of the opening address is contained in Appendix D.

3. The welcoming address on behalf of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen was delivered by Senatsrat Joachim Wülbers. The address is attached as Appendix E to this report.

ELECTION OF THE CHAIRPERSON, VICE-CHAIRPERSONS AND RAPPORTEUR

4. Mr A. Hettiarachchi, Sri Lanka, was elected Chairperson of the Sub-Committee. Mr Greg Schneider, United States of America, was elected First Vice-Chairperson and Australia, Brazil, Morocco and Spain were elected as the other Vice-Chairpersons.

5. The Sub-Committee elected Ms Astrid Holtan, Norway, as Rapporteur.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE SESSION

6. The Committee noted the Declaration of Competence and Voting Rights presented by the European Community.

7. The Agenda shown in Appendix A was adopted by the Sub-Committee with the modification that all issues related to fishmeal be discussed under Agenda item 10. The documents which were before the Sub-Committee are listed in Appendix C.

STATUS AND IMPORTANT RECENT EVENTS CONCERNING INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN FISHERY PRODUCTS

8. A report on recent events concerning international trade in fishery products covering several important events which had occurred since the Seventh Session of the Sub-Committee was discussed on the basis of document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/2.

9. The Secretariat reported that the decline in fish production that had occurred in 1997 and 1998, mainly due to decreased catches of small pelagics caused by “El Niño”, recovered back to 1996 levels in 1999 and 2000. Global imports of fishery products continued to increase exceeding US$59 000 million in the year 2000. Preliminary figures for exports in 2000 were US$54 400 million.

10. Delegates noted that fish products for food aid declined over the years in line with the overall decline in food aid. Several delegations underlined the importance of maintaining the role of fish in food aid and encouraged FAO to promote such use where feasible. FAO continues to have a role in monitoring the use of fish products for food aid.

11. Member countries of the various INFO Services expressed their appreciation of the achievements made and the reported recent developments such as the creation of the new intergovernmental organization EUROFISH and the establishment of an INFOPECHE office in Namibia to cover the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The relocation and reorganization of INFOSAMAK in Morocco was duly noted as was the proposed project of a further expansion of INFOYU at the national level.

12. The European Community informed the Sub-Committee of some major events during the period 2000-2002. Among those were the signature of the Cotonou Agreement and the entry into force of a revised General System of Tariff Preferences (GSP) for the period 1 January 2002 to 31 December 2004.

13. The role of developing countries in international fish trade and the importance of fish exports to their economies was underscored by delegates. Delegations from developing countries expressed appreciation of FAO and UNIDO training for quality control and underlined that these activities should be continued and intensified at the national level. The past contribution in the field of training by Canada and the European Community as well as their offer of future assistance were appreciated. The Sub-Committee also noted the declaration of the Genoa G8 meeting in 2001, which emphasized the special needs of developing countries and the importance of assisting them in their further integration into the world economy.

14. The Sub-Committee referred to the Declaration from the WTO Ministerial Conference held in Doha (November 2001) and recognized the call for further liberalization of trade, including the reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers. Delegates also noted the inclusion of fisheries subsidies on the agenda for the new negotiations and supported the organization of a second FAO expert consultation on economic incentives in fisheries to be held in late 2002. Several delegates underlined the important role of FAO in fisheries issues and encouraged FAO to intensify further its cooperation with WTO. In this respect, delegates were informed about the recent meetings held between FAO and other international organizations (WTO, OECD, UNEP, APEC and UNCTAD) to coordinate work on subsidies. Some delegations proposed that future reports should contain more in-depth analysis of issues discussed at WTO, as well as a more detailed overview of developments in trade agreements on both a regional and intra-regional level, as well as developments regarding Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTN). There was consensus that FAO should provide technical advice and analytical support with regard to fisheries issues in the forthcoming MTN.

CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FLORA AND FAUNA (CITES)

An analysis of the CITES Listing Criteria as applied to commercially-exploited aquatic species

15. The Secretariat introduced this agenda item, referring to documents COFI:FT/VIII/2002/3 and to the Addendum: the report of the FAO Second Technical Consultation on the Suitability of the CITES Criteria for Listing Commercially-exploited Aquatic Species, held in Windhoek, Namibia (November 2001). Attention was drawn to some of the major recommendations on the criteria made at that Consultation, with particular reference to Appendix F of the Windhoek report. The importance of using the best scientific information available in considering any proposal for listing, de-listing or transfer in the CITES Appendices (I and II) was emphasized, as was the need to strengthen the current process in CITES for scientific evaluation of proposals. The Secretariat reminded delegates that FAO was only an observer at CITES and that decisions at CITES were based on the votes of Parties to CITES. It was therefore essential for national delegations at CITES meetings to be properly briefed and to take into account the views of the fisheries authorities if fishery matters were to be promoted.

16. The report from the FAO Second Technical Consultation was endorsed by the Sub-Committee on behalf of COFI and it was agreed that it should be conveyed to the CITES Secretariat as the formal FAO input to the CITES review process. It was agreed that the recommendations from the FAO Technical Consultation must be seen as a package, including the proposals on changes to the criteria, the emphasis on using the best scientific information available and the need for a strengthened scientific evaluation process and evaluating proposals on a case by case basis. A letter to this effect should be prepared by the FAO Secretariat. The letter should also refer to the higher social and economic value of fisheries compared to many of the taxonomic groups normally considered by CITES. This higher value justified the substantial interest of national fisheries authorities in ensuring that the listing criteria are appropriate for exploited aquatic species and that they minimize the number of false alarms and misses in decisions on listing. Some delegations also referred to the need for a responsible approach to proposals for listing given the potential social implications of listing an exploited aquatic species in many developing countries.

17. A number of countries drew attention to problems in the de-listing process and the great difficulty in de-listing a species even when there was good scientific support for such a decision. This is particularly problematic in aquatic species which frequently show considerable variability in abundance. There was a call for CITES to provide adequate and appropriate mechanisms for timely decisions on both listing and de-listing exploited aquatic species. It was noted that the Second FAO Technical Consultation addressed natural variability and managed reductions in aquatic stocks that may be proposed for listing in either Appendix I or II. The recommendations to CITES said that such fluctuations should be generally disregarded in the revised CITES listing criteria.

18. Several countries reiterated their reservations about the role of CITES in relation to resources exploited by fisheries. The Sub-Committee held the view that FAO and the mandated regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) were the appropriate international bodies on fisheries and fisheries management. The Sub-Committee also underlined the importance of CITES Article 14 regarding the relationship between CITES and UNCLOS and its implementation agreement. The view was expressed that CITES should be seen as a complementary instrument in the protection of such resources, e.g. in cases where management regimes are not in place, and that a CITES listing should be limited to exceptional cases only and when all relevant bodies associated with the management of the species in question agreed that a listing would be advantageous. Some countries expressed support for the role of CITES in fisheries management, stating that it could not replace traditional fisheries management.

19. The observer from the CITES Secretariat expressed appreciation for the contribution of FAO to the re-evaluation of the CITES listing criteria and for the fresh perspectives that the involvement of FAO had brought to the process. He emphasized that the CITES Secretariat welcomed cooperation with FAO and that CITES would like to see on-going and closer cooperation with the Organization. He reiterated that it was essential for countries to resolve internally any differing views amongst their relevant agencies and departments on the role of CITES and the listing criteria if effective progress was to be made.

Developing a workplan for exploring CITES issues with respect to international fish trade

20. The Secretariat introduced document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/4. This included two main issues: the development of a workplan to investigate CITES issues related to international fish trade and possible mechanisms for strengthening the existing CITES process for scientific evaluation of listing proposals.

21. There was general agreement that many of the implications of a CITES listing had not been explored in detail and that there was a need for FAO to initiate such investigations in relation to exploited aquatic species. All the issues listed in COFI:FT/VIII/2002/4 were considered important:

22. Discussion of this agenda item was spirited and though delegations differed on several points, the Sub-Committee is in a position to forward agreed recommendations to COFI and to CITES as appropriate. Recommendations form two broad categories; those concerning future FAO-CITES cooperation and coordination, and those relating to the development of an FAO workplan on CITES and commercially-exploited aquatic species. Several countries stressed that these difficult issues should be addressed carefully and cautiously, without undue haste. Some delegations considered that FAO should play the leading role in evaluation of proposals to CITES dealing with commercially exploited aquatic species while others asserted that FAO and CITES should work collaboratively on the scientific evaluation of listing proposals. The detailed recommendations on a proposed workplan and process for scientific evaluation of relevant CITES listing proposals are reproduced in Appendix F.

IMPACT OF URUGUAY ROUND AGREEMENTS ON INTERNATIONAL FISH TRADE - INFORMATION COLLECTION AND IMPACT STUDIES

23. Whereas the Sub-Committee noted the usefulness of document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/5, more in-depth information about the past and future studies was requested. The Secretariat assured the Sub-Committee that such studies would be made available and published as FAO Fisheries Circulars.

24. Several delegates provided additional information on tariffs applied on fish imports and existing bilateral trade agreements. The Sub-Committee was also informed of relevant studies undertaken by some Members. Delegates also underlined the growing importance of processing in third countries for re-export, mainly caused by large differences in labour costs. It was also suggested that developing countries should benefit from better market access in the new Multilateral Trade Negotiations as envisaged in the WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration. The Sub-Committee requested FAO to provide continued assistance in training and capacity building in developing countries, with regard to the new multilateral trade negotiations.

25. The Sub-Committee underlined the importance of free, fair and transparent/sustainable fish trade. The Sub-Committee requested FAO to continue its studies on the effects of international trade agreements on fish trade developments in both developed and developing countries. Given the complexity of the matter as well as constraints imposed by limited funding, the studies should be forward-looking and relevant for the new multilateral trade negotiations.

INTER-REGIONAL FISH TRADE, EXPERIENCES WITH PROVISIONS OF THE AGREEMENT ON TECHNICAL BARRIERS TO TRADE (TBT) AND INFORMAL TRADE BARRIERS

26. The Secretariat presented document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/6 which evidenced experiences by exporters and importers in both developed and developing countries with provisions of the TBT and SPS agreements. Uncertainty in transactions, for example caused by unclear application of regulations at a border point, leads to higher costs and other inconveniences for both importers and exporters, which is likely to result in lower prices for exporters in developing countries. One delegation requested FAO and the Sub-Committee to facilitate WTO membership for those countries who are not yet members.

27. The Sub-Committee noted the usefulness of the document and underlined that many of the problems highlighted were linked to application of regulations and to lack of trade facilitation rather than to informal trade barriers as such. Several delegates underscored the importance of harmonization of customs classification codes for fish and fishery products and of improvement of specification, especially for products from the southern hemisphere. FAO was requested to offer technical advice and guidance in this field to the World Customs Organization (WCO), the competent authority in this area. The Sub-Committee was informed that the next revision of the customs classification by WCO is planned to take place in 2005-2006 and that any work carried out by FAO should be in preparation for that exercise.

28. Several delegates mentioned that the harmonization of customs classification may be regarded as an issue of trade facilitation and as such it may be raised during the implementation of the WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration.

TRACEABILITY OF PRODUCTS FROM FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE

29. The Secretariat presented document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/7 which gave an overview of international developments in the area of traceability, including recent legislation on labelling requirements and ongoing traceability projects in member countries, which resulted in a very lively debate.

30. The Sub-Committee noted the increased use of traceability requirements in major international markets for food products, including fish and fishery products. Many delegates underlined that such requirements should be limited to public health aspects in order to increase consumer confidence, while some delegations emphasized that consumers demanded provisions of broader information. A delegation suggested that traceability requirements could be useful for achieving specific conservation objectives. Several delegates underlined the financial implications of implementing such requirements for producers and producing countries and warned about the danger of creating informal trade barriers, especially to producers in developing countries. Some delegations stated that their traceability systems did not pose any additional burden on exporting countries since the required information in the systems could be obtained easily by importers.

31. The Sub-Committee agreed that the new requirements of traceability introduced in major markets have implications for FAO’s work in the area of international fish trade, especially in relation to the legal frameworks governing it and due to the requirements associated with the compliance by exporters of fish and fishery products.

32. Furthermore, the Sub-Committee noted the WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration on the issue of labelling and asked for FAO’s engagement in this area, including labelling by environmental criteria. The Sub-Committee requested FAO to provide technical assistance and guidance to members in the forthcoming WTO multilateral trade negotiations in their work on the various dimensions of labelling, including those for commercial purposes, consumer protection, product quality and environment-related issues.

33. Delegates underlined that any work undertaken by FAO should be within the framework of the WTO agreements and with a view to avoid trade barriers and to ensure government involvement. This work should be considered the basis for a broad-based technical consultation on labelling and traceability issues in general, including eco-labelling. The Sub-Committee recommended that the next session of COFI should include an Agenda item on eco-labelling and traceability issues in general with a view to invigorate the workplan in FAO on this issue.

FEASIBILITY AND PRACTICABILITY OF HARMONIZING CATCH DOCUMENTATION USED BY REGIONAL FISHERY BODIES IN RELATION TO TRADE

34. The Secretariat introduced the Agenda item by presenting documents COFI:FT/VIII/2002/8 which gave the background to the request for an Expert Consultation, and COFI:FT/VIII/2002/Inf.13 - the Report of the Expert Consultation of Regional Fishery Bodies on Harmonization of Catch Certification (La Jolla, USA, January 2002).

35. It was reported by the experts that catch documentation was a potentially effective way of tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing as was indicated by the fall in the number of fishing vessels in some flag of convenience countries. The success of the ICCAT trade documentation had led to other catch documentation schemes being proposed by other regional bodies and for other species. This development could lead to a situation where there was a multiplicity of different forms that operators would have to contend with and which could lead to confusion and to the possibility of fraud.

36. Two types of documentation programmes have already been adopted by RFMOs. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has adopted a Catch Documentation Scheme for Patagonian toothfish that is in fact an amalgam of catch certification and trade documentation. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT) and the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) have adopted trade documentation programmes.

37. Many delegations felt that the outcome of the Expert Consultation was a step in the right direction for the harmonization of catch documentation for trade purposes, but there was a need for further work. Several delegations expressed concern over the participation in the Expert Consultation of Regional Fishery Bodies on Harmonization of Catch Certification and the view was expressed that there should have been more participation from developing, major fishing and importing countries and from persons who handle catch and/or trade documents. Several delegations also noted some weaknesses in the methodology used in the Expert Consultation. Some delegations cautioned against subjecting commercially exploited aquatic species to both CITES listing and trade documentation schemes and expressed preference for the latter as a regulating mechanism.

38. It was decided that the matter of catch documentation for trade purposes be referred to COFI for further consideration.

SAFETY, QUALITY AND FISH TRADE

39. The Secretariat introduced this agenda item on the basis of document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/9.

40. The increased demand for fish and fishery products, coupled with technological developments in fish handling, preservation and distribution and the increasing awareness and demand of consumers for safe fish of high quality led to major developments in the field of fish safety and quality, culminating in the adoption of HACCP-based systems and scientifically based risk assessment methods. The international regulatory framework that is shaping present and future of fish safety and quality was embodied in the two agreements (SPS and TBT) of WTO and the standards, guidelines and recommendations developed by the relevant committees of the Codex Alimentarius. These safety and quality objectives were also enshrined in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, particularly Article 6 and Article 11.

41. The Sub-Committee expressed satisfaction and support for the work of FAO in capacity-building through training and technical assistance for developing countries, the contributions to the Codex work on microbiological risk assessment and the development of a web-based system for the timely dissemination of relevant information on fish safety and quality, including information on fish quality and safety requirements in each member country. The delegates recommended the further strengthening of FAO’s work in order to meet the increasing need for capacity building, especially in developing countries and to promote a more rapid harmonization of fish safety and quality standards and systems in accordance with the rules of the SPS and TBT agreements. FAO was requested to strengthen its support to improve safety and quality management in aquaculture, particularly through the implementation of HACCP principles in the production chain.

42. Equivalency of safety management systems was recognized as an area where progress was relatively slow and which required specific attention, including capacity-building. The work of Codex was highlighted and the importance of active participation in this work was emphasized.

Fishmeal

43. Document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/2 Suppl. was introduced under Agenda item 10. It was prepared following the request by COFI for FAO to monitor scientific developments in this area. The delegates strongly endorsed the main conclusions of the paper, i.e. that there is no epidemiological evidence of BSE being transmitted to ruminants or other animals by fishmeal and that there is likewise no evidence for the transmission to humans of the Creuzfeld Jacob Disease (vCJD) caused by prions using fish or fish products as vectors. Delegates requested FAO to continue monitoring scientific developments on this subject and to report regularly to member countries.

44. Delegates from several fishmeal exporting countries reiterated their concern regarding the ban imposed by the European Community on the use of fishmeal for ruminants feed. They also emphasized that economic losses were caused by the ban and asked for its immediate lifting for plants that could be certified as not producing feed of mammalian origin.

45. The European Community reiterated its position that the ban was temporary and was due to the risk of adulteration of fishmeal with other mammalian meat and bone meal (MMBM). The current proposals by the European Community to lift the temporary ban on fishmeal used in ruminant diets are:

i) The introduction into law of a proposed European Community regulation by the European Parliament and the Council laying down the health rules concerning animal by-products not intended for human consumption; and

ii) The development of a validated method that enables detection of the presence of MMBM in ruminant feeds even in the presence of fishmeal in the same feed.

46. The delegation of the United States of America highlighted the importance of surveillance programmes for Salmonella in fishmeal and requested FAO to conduct a survey to that effect.

ENHANCING THE OPERATIONS OF THE COFI SUB-COMMITTEE ON FISH TRADE

47. The Secretariat introduced Agenda item 11 referring to documents COFI:FT/VIII/2002/10 and COFI:FT/VIII/2002/Inf.9 and to the decision of the Sub-Committee at its Seventh Session that it would discuss ways to improve its operation, including ways to encourage more involvement by Members in the debates. Noting the double function of the Sub-Committee as the subsidiary body of COFI dealing with matters related to international trade in products from fisheries and aquaculture on the one hand and as the International Commodity Body for fishery products recognized by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) on the other, attention was drawn to the respective terms of reference, the history of sessions and the subject matters covered.

48. With regard to possible patterns of operations for the future, the Secretariat informed the Sub-Committee that it has the option to establish subsidiary working groups or study groups if these were appropriate as a better means than plenary to deal with specific issues. Sponsorship and specificity of meetings or other forms of communication may be arranged in a flexible way to suit the specific requirements of a given case. The Sub-Committee also noted a list of specialized subjects which may be more effectively addressed by smaller groups and a hypothetical programme 2002-2007 as an illustration of the possibilities.

49. As a result of the discussion it was agreed that a vision paper should be prepared which, on the basis of the relevant provisions of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the FAO Strategic Framework (discussed at the Seventh Session document COFI:FT/VII/2000/11) and the discussion at the Twenty-fourth Session of COFI, would underscore the Sub-Committee’s major function of providing pertinent contributions to the implementation of the WTO Doha Ministerial Declaration.

50. Delegates insisted that the FAO Secretariat ensure the effective coordination between this Sub-Committee and the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture in accordance with their respective terms of reference.

51. The Sub-Committee wished to further encourage communication, including meetings with other intergovernmental organizations as occurred in Rome in May 2001, sharing experiences regarding work on subject matters of mutual interest. It was suggested that the Secretariat source information from and encourage participation by organizations engaged in related work, such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission. As examples of desirable future work, delegates mentioned: fish trade and food security; analytical reviews of international markets of fishery and aquaculture products; CITES listings; Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) implementation and fish trade; consumer protection; subsidies; distortion of benefits due to IUU, and traceability and ecolabelling. It was pointed out that COFI had already agreed to hold the Second Expert Consultation on the Use of Subsidies in the Fisheries Sector (3-6 December 2002) to be followed by a Technical Consultation. The Secretariat was requested that the Sub-Committee’s workplan and activities be prioritized, taking into account financial and resource implications. Any additional proposals should be assessed in the context of the agreed strategic priorities.

COFI SUB-COMMITTEE ON FISH TRADE AS INTERNATIONAL COMMODITY BODY AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COMMON FUND FOR COMMODITIES (CFC)

52. Some delegations expressed general appreciation for the projects financed by the CFC and their successful execution by the regional INFO Services. The Sub-Committee approved the pipeline projects as outlined in the Annex of document COFI:FT/VIII/2002/11. One delegation suggested to extend the East African project also to marine species such as shrimp and another delegation requested to extend the CFC/INFOSAMAK project to some of its other member countries.

ANY OTHER MATTERS

53. The delegation of the People’s Republic of China requested that at future meetings of the Sub-Committee, Chinese interpretation should be provided and that documentation should also be translated into Chinese. The Secretariat noted this request.

54. It was noted that there should be a rotation in the language of the Rapporteur.

55. The delegation of the Republic of Korea informed the Sub-Committee of the forthcoming APEC Ocean-related Ministerial Meeting (22-26 April 2002, Seoul, Republic of Korea). This event is in preparation for UNCED+10 planned to take place in Johannesburg, South Africa, (26 August - 4 September 2002).

56. The Sub-Committee acknowledged the usefulness of the Industry Workshop held on 13 February 2002 and noted the high quality of the presentation. It requested that a similar workshop be held in conjunction with the Ninth Session of the Sub-Committee. It further requested better advanced information on future workshops and that a summary of the results be presented in plenary.

57. The Sub-Committee noted the retirement of Dr Erhard Ruckes who had served as the Secretary of the Sub-Committee since its inception and guided it since its First Session in 1986. The Sub-Committee acknowledged his dedication to the work of the Sub-Committee which had been instrumental in its success. The Sub-Committee wished him a long and happy retirement.

58. The Sub-Committee thanked the City of Bremen for its hospitality.

DATE AND PLACE OF THE NINTH SESSION OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE

59. The Sub-Committee received two offers for hosting the Ninth Session of the Sub-Committee: one from the City of Bremen and one from the government of Brazil. Many delegates supported the offer from Brazil, and the Secretariat was requested to make a detailed evaluation of the feasibility of both options, including the financial implications and present these to COFI in February 2003 in order to decide on the location. The expected date of the Session to be held in 2004 would be decided upon by the Director-General of FAO in conjunction with the Chairman of the Sub-Committee.

ADOPTION OF THE REPORT

60. The report was adopted on 16 February 2002.

BACK COVER

At its eighth session held in Bremen, Germany. from 12 to 16 February 2002, the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade of the Committee on Fisheries took note of important recent events concerning international trade in fishery products and considered specific issues of international trade, environment and sustainable fisheries development: Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and responsible fish trade; Declaration from the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference, Doha, and its impact on fish trade; Safety and quality of fishery products; Traceability of fish products and labelling issues; CITES and fish trade

In its capacity as the International Commodity Body for fishery products, the Sub-Committee noted the progress achieved in its cooperation with the Common Fund for Commodities and endorsed several pipeline projects.


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