17 March 2003, Rome -- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and FAO have launched the Aquatic Food Product Initiative (AFPI).

The main goal of the AFPI is to assist developing countries in the production of fish and seafood products by creating a knowledge base of scientific information.

This initiative will promote a better understanding of the safety and quality factors related to the production and processing of aquatic species as food for human consumption.

Increased mass production, coupled with increased globalization and trade, has multiplied the risk of cross-border transmission of infectious agents and food poisoning outbreak.

By providing greater access to scientific knowledge, the AFPI will assist developing countries to access international markets in the context of sustainable development and facilitate active participation in standard setting organizations such as the Codex Alimentarius. It will also generate information that can help in the delivery of training programs and education.

International fish trade is very important as approximately 37 percent of the world's fish production is being traded across national borders, half of which originates in developing countries.

By fostering cooperation between the FAO, the CFIA and various international institutions, the initiative will also generate a knowledge base that will be used to assist subject matter experts involved in the production and processing of a wide variety of fish and seafood products.

Based on the well-proven EcoPort technology (see links), which operates under the auspices of the EcoPort consortium and the patronage of ex-President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and Harvard Professor Edward Wilson, the technological tool, which will disseminate the information to recipient countries, is known as FishPort.

This technology will allow scientists from around the world to collate and link comprehensively information in the field of aquatic food safety and quality to a central repository.

"This global knowledge system will allow users in developed and developing countries to access pertinent and up-to-date information on fish safety and quality," FAO experts say.

The creation of the AFPI has been internationally recognized as one of the first examples of efforts to develop a preventative and integrated food chain approach to food safety based on science, according to same experts.

In addition, Canada has a long standing reputation for assisting developing countries through the collaboration of scientific experts involved in the environmental sciences, fisheries management and fish processing practices.
Contacts:
Grímur Valdimarsson
Director, FAO Fishery Industries Division
grimur.valdimarsson@fao.org
(+39) 06 5705 6510

Roland Cormier
Programme facilitator, AFPI
r.cormier@ecoport.org
(+1) 506 3812459

Pierre Antonios
Media Relations Officer, FAO
pierre.antonios@fao.org
(+39)06 570 53473