March 24, 2011
EU removes ban on Fiji's seafood imports
Fiji is recently reinstated by EU in its list of countries to export fish to its member states.
EU Ambassador to the Pacific, Wiepke Van Der Goot, took the opportunity to advise the country to continue upgrading its export facilities and boost its fishing fleet.
Van Der Goot noted that only two of the country's companies satisfy the EU's stringent standards currently and if Fiji wants to improve its economic development, it should work to achieve more by helping more firms to meet EU requirements. In terms of vessels, only seven meet EU standards.
He reminded that the EU de-listed Fiji in 2004 after it found that the country was unable to meet EU standards. In that year, mercury was found in some tuna loins and three years later, in 2007, several people in France fell seriously ill after consuming fish imported from Fiji.
According to Van Der Goot, Fiji's re-listing is a good omen and it should take it as an encouragement to enhance its development.
"This result should encourage Fiji to take full advantage of the possibilities of global sourcing under the Market Access Regulation or - even better - under the interim EPA by notifying the EU about its implementation," he said.
Head of the Fiji fish company, Graham Southwick, however, doubted whether meeting the EU's imposed standards is a worthy endeavour. He said the EU has now cleared Fiji authorities to monitor and sign off on exports even though the EU had deemed the authorities as incompetent for the job three years ago.
Moreover, he added that the EU has not cleared fisheries exporters and has requested them to fulfill a litany of conditions.
Still, he said Fiji exporters have asked for a final list of conditions so they can determine the cost of the requested upgrades.
Europeans are remarkable eaters of fish and fishery products, the ambassador noted, with an average per capita consumption of 25kg/year. The EU is also the world's main importer of fish, with a total market of some 500 million consumers.
At least 60% of the Union's required fishing products are imported from third world countries.