FAO Fisheries Department - Committee on Fisheries
October 1996 COFI/97/5


Twenty-second Session
Rome, Italy 17-20 March 1997

This document contains an overview of the topics discussed at the Fifth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and summarizes its main recommendations. The full report is available as document COFI/97/Inf.9. The Committee is invited to consider the recommendations of the Sub-Committee.


1.    The Fifth Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade of the Committee on Fisheries was held in Bremen, Germany, from 4 to 7 June 1996 at the kind invitation of the Senate of the Hanseatic City and in conjunction with the trade fair FISCH '96 International & Seafood Europe. An Industry Workshop on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries complemented the event. The report of the Session is available as document COFI/97/Inf.9.


2.    The Sub-Committee endorsed the call for action to implement the UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries which were contained in the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action.

3.    Members of the various regional fish marketing information services expressed their appreciation of the achievements made so far, urged those countries in the respective regions which had not already done so to become members and called for further contributions of donor countries to the network. Future member countries noted with satisfaction the establishment of EASTFISH.

4.    The need for further assistance was stressed in order to build up the capacity of developing countries to meet new regulations related to quality assurance.

5.    There was still a need for action for trade liberalization, particularly with respect to non-tariff barriers and high tariffs associated with value-added fishery products.

6.    The Sub-Committee requested that further efforts be made to strengthen and expand the existing system of regional fishery organizations or arrangements in view of their importance for sustainable management of fishery resources.

7.    It considered that the minimization of waste, discards, catch by lost or abandoned gear, catch of non-target species, both fish and non-fish species, and negative impacts on associated or dependent species, in particular endangered species were important measures for increasing fish supply.

8.    Delegates recommended FAO to carry out a study on subsidies in fisheries and over-capacity of the fishing fleets, their impact on fisheries management and sustainable resource use.

9.    The Sub-Committee noted that the World Trade Organization (WTO) was the forum to discuss trade rules and general aspects of trade and the environment. FAO had a technical role to play in providing information and analyses in the field of fisheries.

10.    The urgent need to assist developing countries in environmental impact assessments was recognized.

11.    The Sub-Committee noted that the study on shrimp culture, trade and the environment was timely and requested that the final outcome of the study should be a balanced evaluation of shrimp aquaculture, including its social and economic aspects. It was noted that the economic aspects were not only confined to the jobs created in the exporting country and to the export earnings. The value added to fishery products in the importing country should also be taken into account.

12.    It was noted that FAO should be involved in the identification of measures to reduce land-based pollution created by the fish processing industry.

13.    The Sub-Committee recommended that the Secretariat collect information and monitor activities and proposals of NGOs, and provide information to the Twenty-second Session of the Committee on Fisheries in March 1997. In addition, information should be provided on discussion papers and developments relating to the WTO agenda item on the use of trade measures by multilateral environmental agreements1.

14.    The Sub-Committee praised the prompt approach with which FAO was handling the follow-up of the Code of Conduct with regard to the assistance requirements of developing countries for its implementation.

15.    The problems of the private sector working in fisheries in many developing countries with regard to access to financing was mentioned as one of the major constraints in respect of fisheries industry development in these countries.

16.    The lack of financing for modern information systems, such as access to INTERNET and electronic mail, were noted as a draw-back for developing countries and FAO was requested to support and strengthen the Regional Information Network.

17.    The Sub-Committee noted with satisfaction the progress achieved in its cooperation with the CFC and instructed the Secretariat to work out the details for execution of its function as Supervisory Body directly with the CFC Secretariat.

18.    The Sub-Committee requested the Secretariat to prepare a compilation of provisions relevant to trade in fishery products in close collaboration with the WTO which should also refer to appropriate provisions in texts such as the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action, and others. The Secretariat would draft a document for the Sub-Committee's consideration which would address the technical aspects of a Strategy for the Development of Fishery Commodities and which could eventually form the basis of cooperation between the ICB for fishery products, i.e., the Sub-Committee, and the CFC.

19.    The Sub-Committee expressed its gratitude and great appreciation for the excellent arrangements made by the host country and, without intending to oblige the Hanseatic City of Bremen, wanted to note that, if possible, it would be pleased to meet again in Bremen in conjunction with the seafood fair in 1998.


20.    The Sub-Committee's concern that the Policy Statement and Plan of Action for the World Food Summit - as formulated by May 1996 - did not focus sufficiently on the critical condition of fisheries to world food security and its request that the proper role of fisheries (including fisheries trade) be recognized in the document was forwarded to the WFS Secretariat and subsequently brought to the attention of the Inter-Sessional Working Group (Committee on World Food Security).


21.    The Committee is invited to consider the recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade.

1 See COFI/97/Inf/12 and a paper made available at this Session concerning the use of trade measures under multilateral environmental agreements