Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Agriculture, Marine and Food
Fishery and Aquaculture Products
Under the umbrella of the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) the European Commission have proposed a new regulation " of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Common Organisation of the Markets in Fishery and Aquaculture Products".
The proposal to revise the Common Organisation of the Markets (CMO) for fishery and aquaculture products follows a very lengthy consultation phase.
The CMO is intended to provide market stability, to ensure a stable supply of quality products, to guarantee a fair income for producers and ensure a fair price to consumers.
I have welcomed the proposal to revise the CMO and support many of the elements contained in it including a greater emphasis on informing the consumer. Current labelling requirements are very broad and give little useful information to the consumer.
I believe in greater traceability and in that regard I am seeking to have more meaningful, recognisable, local catch origin labelling and product information so that consumers can usefully differentiate fish on the basis of a recognisable local area of origin.
EU is increasingly dependent on imports of fish and fishery products to meet its needs. In 2009, the EU imported €15.5 billion worth of fish and fishery products, accounting for more than 60% of it fish consumption. Europe exported €2.5 billion worth of fisheries goods in 2009, the bulk of it to large markets like Norway, Russia and Japan. Total aquaculture production in the EU is around 1.3 million tonnes. As the world's largest market for fish imports, the EU has a major interest in improving market access conditions both at multilateral and bilateral level.
As an EU Member State it is not possible to restrict imports nor do I believe such a policy would be beneficial for the seafood sector in Ireland which is strongly dependant on the export market. Ireland's Seafood Sector is an export orientated industry with an estimated €420m of Seafood Exports in 2011 up 13% on 2010. After the recent success at the December 2011 Council of Fisheries Ministers where I secured an estimated €250m of fish quotas for Irish vessels, the prospects for exports are again positive for 2012. The export market is also critically important for our aquaculture sector.
In terms of import tariffs, tariff quotas (annual limits) are laid down by the EU within which certain products originating in countries outside the EU may be imported at preferential rates of duty (either at a reduced or zero rate). Ireland's position is, in general terms, supportive of the principle of Community preference for products, such as herring and mackerel, where EU is a major supplier to meet internal demand.
I am committed to continuing the path set out in Food Harvest 2020 for the development of the seafood sector in Ireland into 2012. Food Harvest 2020 identifies the potential of the seafood industry to increase employment from the present level of 11,000 to 14,000 full time equivalent jobs by 2020, mostly in peripheral coastal communities. It also identifies the potential to increase turnover in the sector from €700 million to €1 billion by 2020. These opportunities for the growth of our seafood industry will be driven by an expected growth in world population, particularly in Asia, and a consequent increased demand for seafood.
I am pursuing three key strategies to grow the Irish seafood industry and realise the potential identified in Food Harvest. These are - growing our aquaculture production, adding value to our product and improving the scaling and competitiveness of our processing sector. These are my priorities which I believe will deliver on the potential of the seafood sector in Ireland.