EU Market Access for Fishery and Aquaculture Products / by Francisco Blaha

Since 2007 different international organizations have contracted me to write a Seafood EU Market Access conditions type guide/manual aimed to explain in "an easy way" what is needed to export to the EU, and it has never been an easy task.

Exporting seafood to the EU is not an obligation, and it requires an equal amount of effort by the government authorities and the private sector of the exporting countries. Compliance and understanding of the required systems of official assurances are paramount to access the EU market.

In 2007 ITC (International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the WTO and the UN) published the 2 first editions under the name of "How to export seafood to the EU", then SIPPO in 2011 requested an updated version that included a guide to the main Ecolabels called "EU Market Access (Health and IUU)  & Eco-labelling for Fishery and Aquaculture Products" and here in Spanish. Then again in early 2015 new written version was published (but without Ecolabels section) in English and Spanish but going much deeper into the EU IUU Catch Certification and displaying the very basics of the Certification of Origin.

This time, I'm going as a "solo publisher" with this updated edition of my EU Market Access for Fishery and Aquaculture Products version 2016.

This book (60 pages) is a guideline to the regulatory requirements for exporting seafood products to the European Union. It describes the EU system of official assurances, the main regulations, requirements for the Competent Authorities and operators along the value chain with regards to health and “non-IUU” Catch Certification.

Each chapter has a “basics” section at the opening, and then further subsections develop some of the most important topics related to the subject.

Import rules for fish and fisheries products are harmonized, meaning that the same rules apply in all EU countries. For non-EU countries, the European Commission is the negotiating partner that defines import conditions and certification requirements.

The two most important regulations affecting fish and fishery products seek, among other objectives, to protect final consumers’ health and close EU markets from products originated from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. Under these regulations all the fishing products have to be captured, manipulated, elaborated, transported and delivered following standards that are established by European legislators, taking into account European realities and addressed to European citizens.

While they are two “technical” regulatory sets (Health and IUU) and a trade one (Origin) that the exporting country needs to comply with, the most complex requirements are with health, so it is fair to say that the “main” authorisation requirement is the one in place for health certification.

The EU sees aquaculture products from a “farming” perspective, so their importation runs under a “parallel system” as the value chain from the farms to the processors has to comply with the same requirements for that of wild caught fish. But on top of that, they need to comply with an “extra” control system in the form of an annual control plan run by the Competent Authority (CA) on heavy metals, contaminants, residues of pesticides and veterinary drugs.

This publication should be used as an initial reading to understand the very basics. It is strongly recommended that you follow up with all the original references available in the last chapter with the links to download all the regualtions and resources.