The EU has one of the worlds highest trade deficits in fish and fishery products. In CY 2004,
EU imports of fish and fishery products totaled EUR 12 billion while exports totaled EUR 2
billion, a trade deficit of EUR 10 billion. The deplorable state of certain EU fishery stocks and
the reduction in annual catch quotas make the EU more and more dependent on imports
from third countries for its processing industry. In CY 2004, 82% of total EU fish imports
were non-processed fishery products. Products under HS code 0304 fish fillets and other
fish meat account for 25% of total EU fish imports. In this category, 13% of total EU
imports originated in the U.S.
The U.S. seafood inspection system was audited by an EU inspection team in the summer of 2003. In November 2005, the EU agreed to transfer the U.S. to the list of fully-harmonized countries authorized to export fishery products to the EU. This change in status should have been published in the EUs Official Journal at the end of December 2005 but due to a complex administrative procedure, publication is expected in the first half of 2006. In April 2004, the EU adopted a new food control regulation and the so-called hygiene package. These new rules went into force on January 1, 2006, and merge requirements that were previously scattered over 17 different directives. Imported products must comply with the new hygiene rules.
In terms of volume, 5.8% of the EUs total imports of fish and fishery products came from the U.S in CY 2004 (4.3% in CY 2003). The EU imported 246,786 MT of fish and fishery products from the U.S., with a value of EUR 594 million.
SECTION I: SITUATION AND OUTLOOK: EU Fish Catches
In the period 1995-2003, the EU-25 catch has decreased by 26%. The major decrease
during this period was recorded by Denmark, with a cut of 48%. In 2003, the EU-25 catch
was 5.9 million MT of which 4.2 million MT originated in the Northeast Atlantic. This region is
of major importance to the EU-25, accounting for 71 % of its worldwide catch.
In 2003, Denmark and Spain were the main contributors to the EU-25 total catch.
Compared to 2002, fish catches decreased in most member states except in Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands and Portugal. The new member states only accounted for 9% of the EU-25 total catch. The main species caught in 2003 were Atlantic herring, blue whiting, mackerel and sprat. Severely depleted sandeel and anchovy stocks led to the emergency closure of those fisheries in 2005.
In 2003, the EU-15 produced 1.3 million MT of fishery products from aquaculture. Four
member states (Spain, France, Italy and the U.K.) accounted for 72% of the EU-15
production in 2003 (68% of the EU-25). The three main activities in EU aquaculture are sea
fish farming, marine shellfish farming and fish farming in fresh water. Main species produced
in the EU are Blue and Mediterranean mussel, rainbow trout, salmon and oyster. Carp is the
most produced species in the new member states.
In the face of declining fisheries landings and new market demand, aquaculture is becoming increasingly important in the EU. The reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) encourages the development of sustainable aquaculture to help create new employment opportunities in areas dependent on fisheries. Certain aquaculture projects are eligible to receive financial support from the EU through the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). FIFG aid is granted on the basis of structural development programs established by member states authorities and approved by the European Commission. Three essential criteria must be met: quality and food safety, the creation of new jobs and environmental protection. The Commission is also looking at including standards on organic aquaculture in the EU regulation establishing a framework of EU rules for production, labeling and control of organic farming.
The abundant supply of popular species such as salmon, seabass and seabream has had a significant effect on prices. The EU identified diversification as an area in which scientific research could play a key role. EU funded research focused on three main areas: new species, health management and genetics. Projects on new species looked at a wide range of potential aquaculture candidate species such as halibut, bluefin tuna, sole, wolfish, turbot, cuttlefish and octopus.
Aquaculture - Animal Welfare
In August 2005, the European Commission presented a proposal for new rules on the health of farmed fish. In the EU, financial losses due to disease are estimated to be 20% (EUR 500 million) of the production value. The current legislation was developed twenty years ago and needs to be updated to take account of a wider range of aquaculture practices and species in an expanded EU. The main focus of the proposed new rules is on disease prevention and disease eradication measures. If adopted, the proposal will repeal the existing legislation and replace Directives 91/67/EEC, 93/53/EEC and 95/70/EC with one new Directive.
PRODUCTION POLICY: SIMPLIFICATION OF THE COMMON FISHERIES POLICY (CFP)
In October 2005, the European Commission tabled a three-year action program to simplify EU legislation. An Action Plan for simplifying the Common Fisheries Policy over the period 2006-2008 is the first sectoral action plan adopted in this context. It identifies a series of priority initiatives in two main areas, i.e. conservation and control. The regulations that will be targeted include instruments dealing with quotas and fishing effort, technical measures for the protection of young fish, collection and management of data, monitoring measures, reporting obligations and authorizations to fish outside EU waters. By focusing on conservation and control, the Commission hopes to improve working conditions for both fishermen and public officials in the fisheries sector. For details on the CFP, see GAIN reports E23007 and E24009.
2006 FISH QUOTAS: THE PROPOSAL
Each year in December, the Commission presents its Total Allowable Catches (TAC) and quota proposal to the Council. The Commission tries to take account in its proposal of the latest scientific advice from the independent International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) and the Commissions own Scientific, Technical and Economic Committee on Fisheries (STECF), as well as input from stakeholders. However, a compromise has to be reached between the different parties which means that the changes in TACs are never as drastic as recommended. This year, TACs and quotas have been divided form the first time into two proposed regulations: one for the Baltic Sea and the other covering all other areas.