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Rosa Aguilar, head of the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs. (Photo: MARM)

The tuna industry is 'strategic', assures minister

Click on the flag for more information about Spain SPAIN
Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 23:00 (GMT + 9)

Tuna "is a sensitive product and it is associated with an industry that is considered strategic," assured the head of the Ministry of Environment and Rural and Marine Affairs (MARM) in the opening ceremony of the V Tuna World Conference 'TUNA 2011' in Vigo.

"The Spanish government thoroughly controls the negotiations and agreements of the European Union (EU) with countries that may be competitors of the Spanish industry in an advantageous status as to those aspects linked to tariff management and rules of origin," said Minister Rosa Aguilar.

"We will not accept that agreements with third countries threaten the creation of jobs in this industry," she said.

Today, this sector employs about 46,000 people directly and indirectly.

Aguilar insists that the trade policy from Brussels "should ensure the transparency and fairness in social and environmental conditions between the EU and third countries," MARM reported.

This conference, organized by the National Association of Manufacturers of Canned Fish and Seafood (Anfaco-Cecopesca) in Vigo from 12 to 13 September, is attended by representatives from countries whose production accounts for 90 per cent of the world canned tuna production.

Attendance was confirmed by managers of the tuna industry in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, UK, Germany, Belgium, Thailand, Papua New Guinea Seychelles, Malaysia, Ivory Coast, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Ecuador, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, United States, Taiwan and Singapore, among other nations.

According to the organizers, this year the most important companies related to tuna catch and the production and marketing of canned tuna are represented.

"The EU is giving away its market [to competitors] and destroying the industry," the businessperson Ignacio Achaga, Albacora president, warned during the Conference.

"No studies are needed to analyse the economic and social impact of such agreements [such as the one required by the European Commission at the request of the European Parliament] to know what they represent," added the executive of the important tuna company. Albacore has 24 operative tuna firms, two merchant ones, three major tuna processing plants in the Basque Country, Galicia and Ecuador, and has 3,600 employees, according to the newspaper Faro de Vigo.

The President of Xunta de Galicia, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, called for "institutional collaboration" to defend the interests of the fishing and canning industry in the EU. And he agreed with the industry on the dangers posed by the agreements with Papua New Guinea and with other Pacific countries, which in his opinion "take advantage of more flexible requirements" to compete.

Aguilar also spoke about the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), and said that it should to be based on the principles of environmental, economic and social sustainability in order to be "a guarantee of future employment for the fisheries sector."

She also praised Interprofesional del Atún Interatún as "a pioneer of the fishing organizations in Spain and for its work for the improvement of the tuna industry, which is well known."

Related article:

Vigo hosts world tuna conference

By Analia Murias



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