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The widening gap between fish supply and demand and the generally acknowledged limits of production from capture fisheries reaffirm the need to improve utilization of low-value fish for human consumption, reduce post harvest losses and improve domestic distribution and marketing to improve food security in developing countries.

Likewise, the issue of safety and quality of fish products is of great importance for many countries in the light of increased demand, consumers' safety requirements and the globalization of fish trade. Developing countries cover over 50% of this trade, whereas developed countries account for more than 80% of total imports in value terms. Safety and quality standards are expanding in conformity with the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements on sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and technical barriers to trade (TBT). Developing countries need to meet these requirements to maintain and strengthen their market share, and actively participate in international deliberations under the auspices of Codex Alimentarius. They require international assistance to strengthen national and regional capacities.

FAO improved capacity through training and assistance for upgraded handling, preservation techniques, domestic marketing, utilization, safety and quality assurance infrastructure and organization. Capacity building in fish utilization, safety and quality is a priority for FAO which has had very visible undertakings in this area for many years. In addition, FAO hosts the secretariat of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

These activities benefit fish consumers to ensure access to safer and better quality fish. Communities and people involved in fishing, handling, processing and distribution also profit through additional employment opportunities and incomes.

 
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