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Pacific seeks access for fresh, chilled tuna products into Europe

Pacific islands members of the African Caribbean Pacific group will be seeking access to European markets for its fresh, chilled tuna products with a provision for global sourcing when they meet with the Europeans in Brussels on October 5.

This would mean that Pacific Islands can catch their fish from anywhere in the world process the tuna as fresh and chilled tuna before it is exported to European Union markets.

Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency Deputy Director General James Movick told Islands Business he hoped that common sense and goodwill will prevail given EU’s assurances that the comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement will be development friendly and noting the clear development benefits that PACPs gain in a number of areas, especially fisheries.

Movick said FFA carried out a study funded by the EU on the benefits flowing from locally based tuna longline operations.

“The study estimated that for every 100 metric tonnes of fish processed onshore in the long line fishery, six jobs are created,” Movick said.

“A typical fresh frozen longline tuna processing operation with 30 boats therefore creates 180 new jobs directly, a significant boost in small PICs.”

At the latest Cook Islands Pacific Islands Forum meeting, during the PACP leaders meeting, leaders called for a re-emphasis on the original intent for a development friendly EPA.  

“Leaders urged the EU to take into account the special circumstances of the Pacific ACP countries and show flexibility in the EPA negotiations and noted that if the EPA is to be concluded in 2012 it will require commitment and flexibility from both the EU and PACP Members,” Movick said.

“If the Pacific ACP States (PACPS) manage to conclude the comprehensive EPA, which includes global sourcing for fresh and frozen fish steaks or fillets in 2012, this could benefit small island states that do not have canneries or processing facilities,” Movick said.

“Global sourcing for fresh and frozen fish steaks or fillets has the potential to attract investment in the small island states, and may contribute to employment creation and injection of new money into the economies of owners of marine resources as highlighted in the study.”
Movick says hence an EPA without global sourcing for fresh and frozen fish steaks or fillets has little benefits for the small island states of the Pacific region.

He said the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) is responsible for facilitating the EPA negotiations under the direction of Pacific ACP states. 
The PIF Secretariat also provides technical advice and assistance in formulating national and regional negotiating positions under the guidance of Pacific ACP states. 

So while Pacific Islands states are certainly anxious to make an impact in this area, the European Union (EU) had indicated that it could not include global sourcing for fresh, chilled and frozen fisheries products in the iEPA, but promised that this could be considered positively in the context of the comprehensive EPA.