Twenty-fourth Session

Rome, Italy 26 February - 2 March 2001



This document contains an overview of the topics discussed at the Seventh Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade and makes reference to its main recommendations. The full report is available as document COFI/2001/Inf.7. The Committee is invited to consider the recommendations of the Sub-Committee.


1. The Seventh Session of the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade of the Committee on Fisheries was held in Bremen, Germany, from 22 to 25 March 2000 at the invitation of the Senate of the Hanseatic City of Bremen and in conjunction with the trade fair FISH International 2000. The report of the Session is available as document COFI/2001/Inf.7.


Important recent events concerning international trade in fishery products

2. During the Sub-Committee's debate, delegations noted that:

· based on preliminary statistics, fish production declined substantially during 1999, mainly due to decreased catches of small pelagics in Chile and Peru, caused by "El Niño" and that fish trade represented a significant source of foreign currency earnings for many developing countries; (para. 7_)

· fish in food aid was declining over the years in line with the overall decline in food aid and that FAO continued to have a role in monitoring the use of fish products in food aid; (para. 9)

· the FISH INFOnetwork service was successful and that in view of its new location in Morocco INFOSAMAK was an important vehicle for promotion of trade in the Near East region. (para. 10)

Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and responsible fish trade

3. The Sub-Committee agreed:

· on the need for Technical Guidelines related to Articles 11.2 and 11.3 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries; (para. 12)

· that the second draft of the Technical Guidelines to Articles 11.2 and 11.3 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries should be made available to the Twenty-fourth Session of the Committee on Fisheries for information and/or recommendation on further process, which could include the convening of an expert consultation1. (para. 13)

Implementation of the World Trade Organization's Agreements and Multilateral Trade Negotiations

4. The Sub-Committee noted:

· the relevance of issues covered under the umbrella programme for training on the Uruguay Round (UR) Agreements and Multilateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture for fisheries experts and asked the Secretariat to ensure that information on the training programme be discussed with Fisheries Administrations; (para. 17)

· the financial costs for industries to accommodate the need for multiple approvals of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) programmes; (para. 19)

· the need for more rapid harmonization of standards as well as negotiation of agreements on equivalency in accordance with the rules of agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT); (para. 19)

· FAO had a role to play in risk analysis and should collaborate in particular with Codex Alimentarius in defining the approach to adopt. (para. 20)

Matters arising from COFI:FT/VI

5. The Sub-Committee expressed concern about the impact of governments' assistance on over-capacity and unsustainability on one side but also underlined the importance of such assistance to small-scale fisheries and of government expenditure on fishery research, management and vessel safety. The Sub-Committee agreed that such assistance could have both negative and positive effects. (para. 21)

6. The Sub-Committee further agreed that:

· FAO's work on fisheries subsidies/government assistance should initially be to perform a thorough and exhaustive review of the forms of subsidies in fisheries, to establish a common technical baseline for discussion; (para. 23)

· FAO should continue its work on the review of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) listing criteria; (para. 25)

· the development of an International Plan of Action to combat Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUU) was important; (para. 26)

· finally, the Sub-Committee reiterated the conclusions of the Twenty-third Session of COFI with respect to eco-labelling and considered that there was no mandate from COFI to proceed with a second technical consultation at this time. (para. 24)

COFI Sub-Committee on Fish Trade as International Commodity Body and its relationship with the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC)

7. The Sub-Committee expressed general appreciation of the projects financed by the CFC and their successful execution by the regional FISH INFOnetwork service, highlighted the continued need for technical assistance and training, especially in developing countries, and approved the pipeline projects. (paras. 27 and 28)

Implementation of the FAO Strategic Framework - Trade Aspects

8. The Sub-Committee expressed satisfaction with the adoption of the Strategic Framework and the emphasis on the use of institutional partnerships and cooperation with other international organizations. (para. 30)

Any other matters

9. The Sub-Committee considered proposals for future studies put forward by members and agreed to give priority to studies on the impact of the Uruguay Round agreements on fish exports and adaptation of developing and developed countries to changes in fish import regimes in major markets and on the impact of international trade in fishery products on food security and employment. (para. 31)

10. One delegation expressed its opposition to the fact that in future meetings of the Sub-Committee the Rapporteur would use only one language in the preparation of the report of the Sub-Committee. The delegation requested that the issue be raised with COFI and that the means be provided to permit all FAO languages to be used in all stages of the procedure for the preparation and adoption of the report. (para. 34)

11. The Sub-Committee agreed to place on the agenda for its next session a discussion on ways to improve its (the Sub-Committee) operation. (para. 38)

Date and place of the Eighth Session of the Sub-Committee

12. The Sub-Committee agreed to hold the Eighth Session in conjunction with the seafood fair to be held in the year 2002 (14-17 February) in the Federal State of Bremen, Germany.


13. The Committee is invited to endorse the report of its Sub-Committee and provide guidance with regard to the issues contained in paragraphs 3 and 10.