Brazil said it was suspending fish exports to the European Union in response to concerns raised by Brussels' veterinary inspectors. The move was aimed at preventing the EU itself from ordering a suspension, said Luis Rangel, the secretary of state in charge of fisheries.
The suspension will come into effect next Wednesday, January 3, at the same time as an action plan to respond to questions raised by the European Union following an inspection carried out in September 2017, the ministry of agriculture said in a statement.
Rangel cited disagreements in food safety standards between Brazil and the EU.
The EU veterinary inspection mission last September determined that the changes they had called for in previous visits had not been implemented, the Brazilian union of agricultural inspectors said, citing its own concerns about the fragility of the Brazilian inspection system.
The European Commission said the Brazilian fish production system had serious faults and deficiencies, especially in relation to the quality of our fishing vessels.
Apparently EU inspectors took issue with six of the 10 export companies that were audited. It also slammed the sector for not separating the capture of wild fish from fish farming activities. Additionally, an intensive inspection of the ships used by Brazil's seafood exporters was also suggested by the auditors.
The Brazilian trade association PEIXE BR, which represents half of the country's fish producers, called on the government to take urgent measures to prevent damage to the market. With the suspension, Brazil will carry out an action plan to tackle the issues raised by the EU.
According to the ministry, Brazil's fish exports to EU amounted to US$ 21.8 million in eleven months of 2017.