Fisheries Products: Support to Competent Authorities

Donors include: Strengthening Fisheries Products (SFP) EC programme,
DEVFISH/Forum Fisheries Agency, EU-TRTA2 , Commonwealth Secretariat.

Countries include: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Samoa.

Fisheries Expert:  Ian Watson

Time:  2003 to Present

Third Countries (those outside the EU) face many problems in getting their food products into EU markets and one of the biggest barriers is the formidable task of complying with EU legislation on food safety. Thousands of pages of legislation have to be dealt with and, as the legislation is updated regularly, Third Country industry and regulatory authorities face a constant struggle to keep up with the latest changes. The sheer volume of the legislation and its complexity create a real challenge for exporters and for the Competent Authorities which have to certify products as complying with EU legislative requirements. Fisheries products are an important source of export revenue for many countries and especially for island states. Direct export of fishery products offers developing countries the opportunity to obtain greater value from their fishery resources as compared to indirect exports through fishery access agreements. As well as giving higher export revenue, the onshore processing of fishery products creates many jobs, often in locations where alternative employment is very limited.

Ian Watson has been working with the Competent Authorities in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and the Philippines to help them to improve and strengthen their regulatory frameworks and inspection systems to meet the increasingly strict requirements of the EU. The work has been a combination of mentoring, consultancy and training for the Competent Authorities mostly delivered “on the job” at the premises of fishery products exporters. Consultancy and mentoring has also been given to the processors on improving their production processes and particularly their food safety systems. The work has included a performance audit for the Philippines Competent Authority.

Ian Watson has conducted training for Competent Authorities to enable them to carry out inspection, audit and sampling more effectively. This has included risk-based sampling for Competent Authorities and for food business operators. Work has included the assessment of residue monitoring plans for aquaculture products.

Ian Watson has also worked with governments to assess their capacity to develop a Competent Authority and thus be able to access EU markets. This has been undertaken in parallel with the private sector to assess their willingness and capacity to meet international standards for fishery products and particularly EU food hygiene legislation. A project funded by the Commonwealth Secretariat in Samoa assessed the capacity of the public and private sectors to meet EU standards and a programme of food safety training was delivered to improve understanding of food safety management. Work in Malawi concentrated mainly on the development of standards in the small-scale fishery sectors to improve standards for fishery products and improving hygiene condition. This work has been aimed at facilitating regional trade in fishery products rather than trade to developed country markets.