Tuna industry undergo catch certification training to maintain access to lucrative EU markets
The training was facilitated by the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA) in collaboration with the Pacific Fishing Company Pte Limited (PAFCO) and participants that were part of the training included representatives from PAFCO, the Fiji Fishing Industry Association (FFIA), Fiji Ministry of Health’s Competent Health Authority, Ministry of Fisheries Fiji (MoF) and WWF.
The EU is a major importer of fishery products and CATCH is an IT system that aims to digitise the currently paper-based EU catch certification scheme designed to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
An IUU report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations revealed that IUU fishing is estimated to affect one in every five fish caught, with an annual cost of up to US$10 to $23 billion.
For Pacific tuna fisheries, according to the 2016 MRAG Asia Pacific report, the annual cost of IUU fishing is pegged at around US$517.91million.
Training facilitator and Forum Fisheries Agency’s (FFA) Market Access Specialist, Jope Tamani, points out that in order to ensure fisheries products exported into the EU market stem from legal sources, fish consignments need to be accompanied by a Catch Certificate validated by the flag State of the catching vessel in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1005/2008.
“Non-compliance with the EU IUU would result in a yellow card or red card and may lead to suspension where as a breach and lack of compliance in the SPS could result in Fiji losing the EU market.”
“The days of people working in silos is gone and transparency is the key in terms of the electronic traces, it almost rules out the idea of being yourself knowing the interface between Catch and Health Certification, so I think it’s time for industries to start developing a much more robust and transparent system rather than relying on paper work,” Tamani said.
The training also covered TRACES NT (TNT), which is the European Commission’s electronic certification and management platform for all sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) requirements. SPS measures are quarantine and biosecurity measures aimed at protecting human, animal or plant life or health from risks arising from the introduction, establishment and spread of pests and diseases as well as risks arising from additives, toxins and contaminants in food and feed.
These measures are governed by the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (the SPS Agreement), and its Committee of SPS Measures.
“DG SANTE over the years has been issued using the EU Certification platform called TRACES. Now that has been upgraded and has included a new module that caters for Catch Certification. This opportunity is to create awareness with PAFCO and the other EU listed industry of the changes. This is voluntary at the moment but builds on the principle of traceability and transparency. This Certification, both Health and Catch certification covers all eligible fish which includes MSC and non-MSC fish,” highlighted Tamani.
“It’s a very good session and we are always learning something new like how the regulating authorities are getting smarter in knowing which documents to be asking of the Industries for them to be able to do their traces, so we as the Industry should be ready to hand the documents over to them,” said Losalini Katia, the Senior Sales Marketing Executive of Golden Ocean.
“It’s very important as regulatory authorities for (the Ministries of) Health and Fisheries to understand the process and the procedures on what happens with companies in order to better regulate and understand what questions and what document to ask for otherwise it will be a challenge to us as regulatory authorities to know what question to ask and what documents to obtain,” said Taina Waqaliva, Senior Environmental Health Officer with the Ministry of Health.
Similar sentiments were also expressed by other industry participants.
"For us at the Quality Assurance Department at PAFCO, its really mind blowing because all we have to deal with every day is quality but now with this Catch Documentation, we get to know where our product is going to after shipping and all those requirements that they need for us to comply with, it’s a really good opportunity to know all these things,” said PAFCO Quality Assurance Cadet officer Alena Lesukilevuka.
WWF-Pacific’s Industry Liaison & Facilitation Officer, Adriu Iene, added the training covered key aspects which is not only vital for the industry but also for the stakeholders involved such as the Ministries of Fisheries and Health officers and that meeting such requirements allowed stakeholders the opportunity to continue to export their products to the EU.
“Much key important information was learnt during the three day training on Catch Certification and I believe all participants will echo the same learning experiences. The practical, theory and group discussions have reaffirmed the importance of understanding Catch documentation to combat IUU fishing and most importantly preventing illegal fish getting into the seafood supply chain intentionally or accidentally that will jeopardize market access,” Iene said.
Iene added that the objectives of the training also supported WWF’s New Zealand Government-funded Developing Responsible and Sustainable Tuna Longline Fisheries in Fiji project’s deliverables on promoting and fostering sustainable supply chains for Fiji MSC tuna.
Fiji’s tuna industry is estimated to contribute around FJ$200 million annually to Fiji’s economy.