The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Committee on Fisheries (COFI) is meeting this week in Buenos Aires to examine technical and economic aspects of the international trade in fish and fishery products.
It is the first time that the meeting will be carried out outside Europe and organised by a developing nation. The decision was based on the strong commitment that Argentina “assumed during the last few years in the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), actively participating in initiatives and taking major steps in the fulfilment of the provisions stemming from the guidelines for responsible fish trade,” indicated the Argentine Fisheries Sub Secretariat.
Over 80 delegations from different countries around the world, totalling 150 participants, are attending the event. A protocol visit is also expected from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
COFI establishes sub-commissions on specific issues and for this occasion the work in Buenos Aires includes:
During the meeting, Argentina will raise the issue of the Eco-labelling System, among other points.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), international trade in fish grew throughout 2008, but the global economic crisis led to a decline in imports in nearly all markets last year. Fish exports rose 8.7% in 2008 to 102 billion USD. This entity has not yet collected complete data for 2009, but its estimates point to declines in both volume and value.
The European Union (EU) is the largest market for imported fish: its purchases tallied 24.6 billion USD in 2008, but fell 6% in 2008. In terms of countries, Japan was the largest single-country importer of fish products in 2009, with imports valued 13.2 billion. The US took second place with 13.1 billion.
The COFI is the only global inter-governmental forum where major international fisheries and aquaculture problems are addressed periodically, as are recommendations for governments, regional fishery bodies, NGOs, fish-worker entities, FAO and the international community.
The Argentine delegation is made up of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sub-secretary Norberto Yauhar; as well as the national director of Fisheries Planning, Ramiro Sanchez; the director of Fisheries Economy, Elisa Calvo; and the national director of Fisheries Coordination, Hector Marcelo Santos.