The Spanish national association of seafood processors Anfaco and the trade union UGT have signed a joint statement in which they request the EU ‘to ensure that partner countries with which EPAs are being negotiated implement health and hygiene, socio-economic and labour conditions equivalent to those prevailing in the EU, and that they cooperate in the fight against illegal fishing and to promote sustainable development.’
Both organisations emphasise the strategic importance of the European seafood-processing industry in general and the tuna-canning sector in particular. They support the process of globalisation of the sector, but are against delocalisation as a way to ensure the growth and consolidation of their industries.
According to the statement, ‘The EU should negotiate provisions that, as part of trade agreements, address social and environmental concerns arising from trade, bringing together the three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. Moreover, hygiene aspects should be strictly imposed’.
‘To promote the regional development of underprivileged countries through trade agreements is laudable and worthy of recognition but it should be based on sound analysis of the beneficiary country and of its overall impact on EU industry’, the two organisations concluded.
There is a large consensus amongst EU stakeholders, including the catching and processing industry, trade unions, as well as NGOs and consumers, that imported fish products should come from environmentally and socially sustainable sources. This is also something the Commissioner herself recognised, and which is being reflected in the EC proposal for the reform of the marketing policy for fishery products currently under discussion. It is therefore important for ACP countries to take stock of these new developments and ensure that their products can accommodate such future production standards.
Concerning the position adopted by the Spanish canning industry and the trade union against delocalisation, it needs to be noted that to a certain degree this is already happening. EU canners (including Spanish canners) import increasingly significant amounts of primary processed tuna, in the form of tuna loins, to put in their cans; a development which may also present some opportunities for ACP countries.