The value of fisheries exports from the PICTs nearly doubled in the period 1999-2007, and many of the new jobs created in the sector are in the processing of fisheries products for export. This is particularly true of tuna processing, where the number of jobs has more than doubled in the last six years and further investment is in the pipeline; but various other fishery and aquaculture products, including live fish and invertebrates for the marine aquarium trade, are also exported.
The European Union (EU) has emerged as a particularly attractive market for fishery products, but also has some of the most rigorous standards for sanitary inspection and documentation. In the case of fishery products for human consumption, only two Pacific Island countries and two French territories are able to meet these requirements at present. As a result, several countries that have products demanded in Europe, and which would yield a better return if sold there, are foregoing the opportunity to export to that market. These include Fiji, Marshall Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu. In other countries, notably the Federated States of Micronesia, potential investment in tuna processing will require access to the EU market.
As well as the EU, other importing countries have requirements that national authorities and/or individual exporters often find difficult to meet. These requirements typically become more stringent and more complex over time, with a need for regular upgrading of systems and skills in both the government authority and the private sector.
While there have been a number of short-term projects to address the problems of market access, particularly for sanitary standards for the EU, the countries that have been successful have benefited from an input of technical assistance sustained over several years. While this can be provided on a bilateral basis, the systems and training required are identical and it would be more efficient for SPC to provide a service that will roll them out in several countries at the same time. This project component will focus on the countries which stand to benefit most from improved market access, and will provide support and mentoring to the relevant authorities and private sector in those countries over a period of four years. It will also ensure that countries already exporting to the EU do not lose that opportunity. As well as working in-country and providing office based advice from an expert, sub-regional training courses will be organised. It is not expected that the technical assistance position will be based in Noumea. Depending on the home of the person recruited, either Suva or a home-based contract will be more cost effective.
This project component has linkages with the FFA/SPC DevFish-2 project, which will provide short-term inputs to address obstacles to tuna industry development, as well as the other components of this programme.
- back to the top -