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EU Market Access for Fish and Fishery Products. Francisco Blaha Independent Advisor. The EU Market. The European Union (EU) is the biggest single market for fish and fishery products worldwide. Over 60% of the seafood consumed there is imported. ( For Tuna the estimated figure is 80-90% )

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eu market access for fish and fishery products
EU Market Access for Fish and Fishery Products

Francisco Blaha

Independent Advisor

the eu market
The EU Market
  • The European Union (EU) is the biggest single market for fish and fishery products worldwide.
  • Over 60% of the seafood consumed there is imported. (For Tuna the estimated figure is 80-90%)
  • The EU bases its seafood import on government-to-government assurances, without the intervention of any private type certification.
the 2 certifications
The 2 certifications

I will keep my presentation focused on the 2 certifications required

  • The “usual” deals with “fish as safe to eat food”, and provides official guarantees from the exporting government to the EU that the fish has been handled as required by the EU legislation. It relates to the “health of the consumers”
  • The “new one” who deals with “fish as a legally caught resource”, and provides official guarantees from the vessel’s flag state to the EU, that the fish was harvested in accordance with applicable laws and international conservation and management measures.
the competent authority
The Competent Authority
  • The EU requires that the official guarantees in terms of compliance of seafood exports should be given by a competent authority (CA) “...central authority of a State competent for the organisations of official control...” in terms of the official controls as required in the relevant EU legislation.
  • And emphasises that…The CA for performing official controls should meet a number of operational criteria so as to ensure their impartiality and effectiveness... “They should have a sufficient number of suitably qualified and experienced staff and possess adequate facilities and equipment to carry out their duties properly”...
the competent authority1
The Competent Authority

1)    Management structure.

2)    Independence.

3)    Resources (including budget!).

4)    Personnel.

5)    Recruitment and training.

6)    Legal/enforcement powers.

7)    Prioritisation and documentation of controls.

8)    Import controls.

10)  Structured Control Plans.

11) Access to Laboratories (Health Certification only)

list of authorised countries
List of authorised countries
  • Animal products and foodstuffs of animal origin may be exported to the EU only by the countries included on the list authorised for the product in question.
  • For wild caught seafood, two criteria are taken into account when drawing up the list:
    • The recognition of the equivalence of the relevant competent authority of the third country to the national authorities of the Member States.
    • The submission by the country concerned of an annual residue monitoring plan for the products concerned.
registration approval and listing

list that goes to the EU



This list stays in the country

Registration, Approval and Listing

Your country CA







DG Sanco

FBOs allowed to supply to FBOs exporting to the EU

FBOs allowed to export directly to the EU (EU #)

FBOs allowed to produce food and feed

process and update the list

and pass it to all the BIPs

all FBOs under your legislation



cool stores


feed makers

aquaculture farms

ice factories


landing sites



cool stores




catch certification
Catch Certification
  • The Catch Certification Scheme deals with fish as a legally caught resource.
  • Provides official guarantees from the vessel’s flag state to the EU:
    • that the fish was harvested in accordance with their own applicable laws
    • and international conservation and management measures.

What it means?

  • Prohibits the importation into the Community of fishery products obtained from IUU fishing.
  • The catch certificate shall contain all the information specified in a expressed format, and shall be validated by the CA of the flag state of the catching vessel.
  • The catch certificate may be established, validated or submitted by electronic means.
  • Again... against the national legislation and not the EU imposed conditions.

What it means?

  • Flag State needs to prove compliance with:
  • Fisheries law
  • MCS activities
  • NPOA - IUU
  • International agreements
  • Bilateral agreements
  • Coastal State controls
  • Port State controls
  • Flag State controls
  • Market State controls
  • Management measures of RFMOs

What comes first?

  • To access the EU a country must be “authorised” (sanitary), then all its vessels intending to provide the EU need to be to approved. Around 100 countries are presently approved.
  • The country need to be in the approved notification list for Catch Certificates.
  • While both regimes are as different as the work scope of a Seafood Safety Inspector and a Fisheries Officer, there should be synergies in between both certifications.
  • Both certificates cannot contain discordant information.

Authorities EU

and others

National & Regional Organisations




Compliance, Science

Trade statistics

e-cert or paper

The certifications and FIMS

Fish as Fish

Fish as Food










EU listed factory


The origin of the raw materials and the way it arrives define the eligibility in terms of “fish as food”






Flag state CA



EU listed factory

EU listed factory


The FS validation of the catch certificate defines the eligibility in terms of IUU fish




Transshipment or

Non processing statement

funding and cost recovery
Funding and Cost Recovery
  • Any government activity will require funding and so inevitably, there is a cost factor to be considered.
  • These costs will be significant since an effective certification programme would require a reliable and constant source of funding.
  • Since the certification of fish exports (on both counts!), will ultimately be to the benefit of the resource users, it is logic to establish as cost recovery structure.
  • Although, this only makes sense where there is a direct economic benefit, otherwise the additional cost to the sector does not make it worth.
  • I can’t tell you how much it will cost to have the system working, but I can tell how the cost will be structured!
funding and cost recovery1
Funding and Cost Recovery
  • Set up costs: this is a long process and is to be based on an evaluation of what they have now in terms of legislations, human resources and infrastructure and an estimation to where they have to go.
  • Running Costs
  • Fixed Costs: These are independent of product volumes exported and are inherent to of the normal functioning of a CA, such as:
  • base personnel, technical training
  • maintenance of schedules, annual reports,
  • cost of official control and monitoring programs,
  • development, management and maintenance of databases, communications, vehicles,
  • etc...
funding and cost recovery2
Funding and Cost Recovery
  • Variable Costs
  • These costs are dependent on the level of compliance by operators and the volume of exports. They include:
  • Certification: It recovers the cost of each certificate in terms of inputs and a standard minimum provision of time incurred in its production.
  • Verification of Conformity: The Cost of inspections can be charged per unit of time spent by staff in terms of regulatory checks and risk evaluation.
  • Additionally this concept rewards operators that demonstrate better compliance since their costs will be lower.
  • Capacity Building of new staff, technology updates, etc.
is it worth
Is it worth?

Feasibility Assessment of Exporting Products of HS Headings 0304/ 0305 to the European Union - Gillet & Preston - Feb. 2012


Is it worth?

  • Direct exports does not seem feasible for many countries.
  • In some cases, the country does not have processing sites in their territory, or their operations are aimed to non EU markets only.
  • But, they have a locally flagged vessel fleet that operates in their own as well as regional waters, transhipping for, or unloading in other 3rd countries for processing and potential export to EU markets.
  • The lack of EU authorisation is a price disincentive for buyers (even if in reality the product will get to the EU anyway)
  • This implies that the CA needs to be developed and run in a “vessel only” oriented manner and in close collaboration with the other countries. (This has particular complications)

Is it worth?

  • The EU has set up themselves in the “highest moral ground” in terms of food safety and non IUU fish.
  • They are in agreements with other major markets to standardise the requirements
  • So this is becoming a bit like a “Ecolabel”…
    • You are not required to have it, but...
    • If you have it... there is no guarantee you going to get more money for your fish
    • Nevertheless, the pressure to be part of it... seems relentless
    • And, as we see... there are economic consequences for those that are not part of “the club”

Situation in the Pacific

  • In the sanitary approved and notification list:
    • Fiji
    • French Polynesia/New Caledonia/Wallis & Futuna
    • PNG
    • Solomon Islands
  • Working towards it
    • FSM
    • Kiribati
    • Marshall Islands
  • Support by
    • FFA/DevFish II/SPC
    • the EU (in the past)
so what to do
So what to do?
  • Hard Question….
  • Need to make numbers… it has to be cost effective…
  • Personally…
  • I’ll get SPC/FFA to provide the best advice on the set up and routines of the CA
  • I’ll recover directly the running costs of developing and maintain the CA out of the fisheries access fees and fisheries generated revenues to the country