48. Dr Erhard Ruckes, FAO Consultant, Rome, Italy, made a presentation entitled "Implementing Responsible Post-Harvest Practices in the Pacific Islands". He provided a brief review of the history of the Code of Conduct and its relationship with international trade in fish and fishery products and other pertinent international arrangements related to fish trade. The criteria embedded in the Code's General Principles 6.7 and 6.14 were then discussed. It was pointed out that these Principles provided the basis for the requirements formulated in article 11 of the Code of Conduct which addressed responsible fish utilization, responsible international trade, and laws and regulations relating to international fish trade.
49. The presentation highlighted the right of consumers to safe, wholesome and unadulterated fish and fishery products and the need to establish and maintain effective safety and quality assurance systems for consumer protection. These considerations were most important for responsible fish utilization. The economic implications of the production of value-added products and the identification of the origin of fish and fishery product traded were of great relevance for producing and exporting Pacific Island countries. Dr Ruckes pointed out that another high profile provision of the Code of Conduct was sub-article 11.2.15 which called on States and all relevant international cooperation and support agencies to make sure that promotion of international fish trade did not result in environmental degradation or adversely impact the nutritional rights and needs of people for whom fish was critical to their health and well-being. Of specific interest to exporting developing countries was the reference to fishing agreements and concerns related to linking access to markets to access to resources or to other criteria.
50. The presentation noted that the gist of sub-article 11.3 of the Code was that rules and regulations relating to fish trade should be transparent, as simple as possible, comprehensible and based on scientific evidence, when appropriate. The need for cooperation and consultation between States and pertinent international organizations was emphasized specifically in the article. Attention was also drawn to linkages between trade issues and other articles of the Code (e.g. articles 8, 9 and 12) and reference was made to the Technical Guidelines in support of article 11. The conclusions of the presentation highlighted the core themes of fish as food and food security and trade and environment. The challenge that these subjects constituted for the future was stressed. A copy of the paper on which the presentation was based is attached as Appendix L.
51. Following the presentation, participants expressed grave concerns about the fish export quality standards that Pacific Island countries were required to meet for the entry of product into the EU- and US-markets. Some participants informed the Workshop of the measures being taken to meet the stricter standards and tight deadlines. A fear was expressed that if these standards and deadlines were not met, countries would suffer in terms of their lost trade opportunities. One country had already achieved Group 1 EU listing while two others were in the process of attempting to achieve this listing level. The Workshop noted, with appreciation, the FAO technical assistance that had been provided to some countries to enable them to raise their standards to comply with EU and US requirements.
52. The Workshop was advised that in two instances when efforts were made to introduce the stricter export standards, there had been a degree of industry resistance. This had resulted possibly from poor communication about the need to raise standards and the higher costs associated with meeting those standards (e.g. in terms of upgrading of vessels and processing facilities). However, it was noted that training programmes instituted to promote the implementation of higher standards had led to a reduction in industry resistance. It was suggested that FAO, through Globefish and the regional network of fishery information services, could assist Pacific Island countries facilitate the acceptance and implementation of the more rigorous export requirements.
53. The issue of domestic quality standards for fish and fishery products was also addressed by the Workshop. It was pointed out that in some cases quality standards for domestic products were lower than those for export products. The Workshop agreed that countries should also ensure that domestic standards were not overlooked in the process of meeting more exacting export standards.
54. It was pointed out to the Workshop that the Pacific Islands were well served with the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) training opportunities. SPC and the University of the South Pacific (USP) conducted training courses on technical aspects of post-harvest handling of fish and fishery products. The Workshop acknowledged that it was important for countries to make full use of the opportunities that were available in the region.
55. The Workshop noted the importance of participating in international trade meetings if the region's views were to be considered and if the Pacific Island countries were to try to influence outcomes. It was further noted that fisheries should not only be viewed from a narrow management or research perspective. Rather, a broader, more holistic approach that included trade, should be adopted. This was particularly significant given that tuna was the most important export from the Pacific Islands and because new products had to be considered and the problems of freight costs and tariff rates had to be addressed.
56. The Workshop recognized that a major shortcoming in the Pacific Islands was a lack of legal expertise to develop legislation and regulations that underpinned quality standards. In this connection, it was agreed that it would be beneficial for countries to seek FAO technical assistance to fill this gap, particularly in light of FAO's intimate involvement with related international conventions.