Fiji Negotiating Fishing Deal With European Union
By Ropate Valemei
SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 21, 2013) – The Industry and Trade Ministry is negotiating with the European Union for European fishing vessels to fish in Fiji waters.
This was revealed by the ministry permanent secretary Shaheen Ali.
Mr. Ali said the development is part of the rules of origin that set the rules for trading or the rules for entry under preferential arrangements, such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
Director of Trade Sovaia Marawa said the EU was the biggest single market for Fiji's fisheries products.
"The EU purely wants our fish. It wants access to our fisheries resources. They just want to come and fish," said Ms. Marawa. "They don't want us to send our fish. They want to enter our fishing ground with their fishing boats and take advantage of our fishing grounds."
Ms. Marawa said there had been different views within the region on EU accessing fisheries resources.
"For Fiji, we are willing to look at access, but there has been some progress in looking at global sourcing on fresh, frozen and chilled fish," she said.
The progress was possible after Fiji presented a case study to the EU that Fiji would benefit economically.
She said the presentation did make a difference. "We just have to come with facts and figures," she said.
Ministry of Fisheries and Forests permanent secretary Inoke Wainiqolo said they were still negotiating with EU on the EPA.
"What they really need for fishing is the simplification of ownership and crew requirements linked to vessels used to harvest fish," he said.
This means that some additional flexibility has been extended by ACP exporters.
"For the rules of origin, Fiji's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZs), from what we have known, is not as rich as other regions in the Pacific like those in the north and west of Fiji."
However, Mr. Wainiqolo said Fiji had processing plants, cannery and connectivity via air and sea.
For the rules of origin, he said regional countries could source their fish through Fiji.
"Not only do they want to buy from us, but they also want to participate in the catching of these resources in Fiji waters."
While some Pacific islands do not want the EU to access their resources, he said Fiji was negotiating with them.
"That is the requirement they want for our waters," Mr. Wainiqolo said.
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