The Spanish Association of Canned Fish and Shellfish, ANFACO, has stated that for the tuna-canning industry in the EU to operate profitably, it needs to import 60,000 tonnes of duty-free pre-cooked tuna loins from countries which have no trade agreements with the EU, compared to the 30,000 tonnes of tuna raw material currently requested by the sector. These countries will include important Asian tuna-producing countries, like Thailand or the Philippines.
However, the Spanish Fisheries Confederation (CEPESCA) rejected the request of ANFACO to increase import quotas for duty-free tuna loins. According to them, ANFACO aims to increase loin quotas so that the canning industry can compete in the low-priced canned-tuna market, lowering prices through the use of raw material from not very responsible fleets. In a letter to the minister in charge of fisheries CEPESCA regretted that ANFACO had requested this increase unilaterally and without reaching consensus with the fishing industry in the European platform Eurothon.
This conflict between the fish-catching sector and fish importers highlights how ACP preferences could be further eroded by increases of lower-cost tuna raw material imports from non-ACP countries such as Thailand. This is a clear signal that ACP producers and exporters need to consider the options available and the strategic decisions required to secure their position in the major export markets. A popular option would be to provide lower volumes of higher-quality products that meet SPS and IUU requirements, and address social and environmental concerns. ACP-EU fisheries relations should be tailored to support such efforts, including through specific support programmes.