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'Meeting the EU’s food needs involves more than simply protecting the catching sector '

25 July 2011

In an interview with CFP Reform Watch, representatives from the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association AIPCE-CEP call for a removal of trade barriers for fish from third countries. CFP Reform Watch highlights the fact that: ‘the processing industry represents 130,000 employees, 4,000 enterprises and a production value of around €20 billion. The activity of fish traders and associated businesses who supply services to the processing industry also make a significant contribution to employment and wealth creation. Therefore ensuring adequate supplies to these industries is vital for the social and economic sustainability of the wider economy.’

Representatives from AIPCE-CEP underline that they have been actively working to ensure that the fish that they supply is from sustainable sources. In the context of CFP reform, particularly the market policy, they feel that ‘the CFP needs to take much greater account of consumer concerns by delivering sustainably sourced supplies, at prices and qualities which customers want, with the volumes and stability which the market needs. This requires better connections and integrated policies across the supply chain, and a clear focus on efficiency and added value at all stages. It also means focusing on meeting the EU’s future food needs (in terms of safety, quality, nutritional value, affordability and security of supply) rather than simply trying to protect a catching sector that cannot meet the demands of EU consumers. Thus measures that seek to protect EU markets from third-country competition are outdated and should no longer be part of EU policy.’

They conclude the interview by saying that: ‘Fisheries are a valuable and renewable (low carbon) source of protein, increasingly important in terms of EU and world food security. The objective of the CFP should be to maximise this potential and rebuild stocks to meet future demand, not simply to manage the status quo. This will require an integrated approach, bringing together fisheries management, policy on the marine ecosystems and supply-chain issues. Efficiency and rational economic operation must also be key policy drivers, in order to maximise the value of this unique natural resource.’

Editorial comment

There may be an opportunity for ACP producers to fill the gap left by the EU fish-catching sector that cannot meet the growing demand of EU consumers. However, suppliers should beware of the increasing pressure from retailers, who are willing to impose environmental-sustainability requirements. Meeting these requirements from the retail sector will most certainly come at a cost to ACP producers. However, it is unlikely that, given the parallel trend of price-conscious European consumers opting for cheaper products, these additional costs could simply be recovered through price premiums. Furthermore, it is also important for ACP countries to find ways of improving the negotiating power of their producers, both through strengthening their organisational structures and enhancing transparency throughout the value chain. In this context, crucial choices also need to be made as regards the kinds of fishery activities and extraction methods and products that ACP countries should favour.


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