2. Introduction and scope of this study

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2. Introduction and scope of this study

This study was prepared as a background paper for an Asia–Pacific Fishery Commission (APFIC) Regional consultative workshop on "Certification schemes for capture fisheries and aquaculture" held in Viet Nam 18–20 September 2007.

The main objective of the publication is to provide a strategy for the region, to be used in decision-making, as to whether or which certification/branding schemes should be pursued for capture fisheries in the Asia–Pacific region. The study attempts to provide a clear analysis framework to be used by countries/producers in the region in determining where and when certification/branding is likely to provide net benefits. While a review of different initiatives is presented, along with some discussion about the potential benefits, costs and problems for developing country producers of such schemes, it is hoped that the publication represents a departure from the many rather general studies that are already available, which often fail to provide much guidance to developing country producers and decision-makers as to how to go about assessing whether to pursue different types of initiatives.

This work focuses on those environmental and social certification initiatives related to the marketing of products in either domestic or export markets. It examines certification initiatives from the point of view of their ability to generate competitive market benefits to producers. In addition to social and environmental initiatives, there is also a growing trend towards product branding, labeling and quality improvements. This study therefore considers not only certification per se, but also the potential benefits from branding and quality schemes.

The paper does not consider in any detail the overall benefits of more general initiatives to encourage improved management measures or social practices, such as the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF), or specific national or fishery management organization initiatives to improve fisheries management, although such schemes can be expected to lead to market impacts through long-term sustainable production. The study only examines initiatives relating to capture fisheries production — initiatives related to aquaculture are covered in a separate study — and hence it does not consider any organic initiatives as these relate primarily to farming and/or aquaculture production (e.g. GLOBALG.A.P.). Appendix D provides some discussion on why not all wild caught fish can necessarily be considered as complying with organic standards.

Finally, the study does not examine the legislative requirements for, or benefits of, food standards, traceability and product labeling — i.e. mandatory requirements imposed by regulatory authorities in importing countries. If countries in the Asia–Pacific region wish to export to the European Union or the United States of America for example, they must comply with certain import requirements; there is no choice to be made about the economic competitive benefits of doing so, except insofar as they will be unable to generate any benefits at all from sales to such markets if they do not comply with the traceability and product labeling requirements specified. This study therefore focuses on voluntary schemes/initiatives with which countries in Asia and the Pacific could potentially engage.

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