More than 800,000 tonnes of imported fish will annually benefit from tariff exemptions even if the originating country has been shown to be involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing if Council of the EU plans go ahead, says the fishing sector.
The Council of the EU will shortly approve a regulation setting autonomous tariff quotas (ATQs) for the years 2021-2023 but Europêche and European Association of Fish Producers Organisations (EAPO) believe that ATQs are being used to obtain cheap and low-standard fish from foreign fleets. Both are calling on the EU Council of Ministers to reduce the amount of imported duty-free fish to at least levels set in the European Commission’s proposal.
“The Council only listens to some EU processing companies that want to get access to cheap fish from non-EU countries regardless of the origin or way of production,” said Javier Garat, president of Europêche.
“The increases in volume of duty-free fish works to the detriment of EU producers who have to comply with the highest standards of sustainability,” he added.
The EU catching sector is not opposed to a rational tariff-free setting for certain fishery products that are not sufficiently produced in the EU. However, in light of the negative socio-economic consequences of ATQs for the EU fishing industry, Europêche and EAPO argue that this should not increase imports from non-sustainable sources nor put pressure on EU producers’ prices.