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Europêche President Javier Garat voiced concern at the loss the ban imposed by Russia is causing. (Photo: IISD)

Europêche complains about Damanaki's inaction on Russian import ban

EUROPEAN UNION
Monday, September 01, 2014, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

The EU fisheries and aquaculture sector is greatly concerned about the "inaction" shown by Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Maria Damanaki in the aftermath of the trade embargo imposed by Russia.

The ban, imposed on 7 August, affects a range of seafood seafood and agricultural products for a year, or at least until the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia are lifted.

In a press statement, Europêche – The Association of National Organisations of Fishing Enterprises in the EU - complains that the Directorate-General for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs (DG MARE) has taken no direct action or offered any display of support, whilst the Directorate-General for Agriculture (DG AGRI) has reacted rapidly by requesting a potential impact analysis from its officials, approved exceptional measures to assist farmers and a management committee meeting.

Europêche warns that the ban is currently causing economic problems to the fishing sector which is still reeling from radical changes introduced by the recent overhaul of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). An estimated EUR 153.8 million (Eurostat, COMEXT) will be lost following the closure of this vital market, made worse with Russia rapidly establishing firm markets elsewhere. The closure of the long-established EU-Russia market on products such as salmon, trout and oysters will inevitably result in surplus stocks, further disrupting the EU market.

"It is shocking that not only has the Commissioner proposed no action to address the impact of such economic uncertainty on the industry but absolutely no reaction has been made at all," said President of Europêche Javier Garat.

"The ban is causing serious financial losses to the sector at a time when we are already facing a vast swathe of new regulations from Brussels. At this challenging time, our fishermen feel frustrated and need clarity on what is being done to address the impact of the ban," Garrat pointed out.

In a letter addressed to Damanaki, co-signed by Europêche, Copa-Cogeca, EAPO, FEAP, EMPA, the EU fishing and aquaculture industries called for a Task Force to be created to support the appropriate management of this issue.

The Task Force would work in close cooperation with stakeholders to analyse the impacts of the ban, and to identify new potential markets which would alleviate the concerns and consequences to fishermen.

Garat added: "We must remember, however, that it is important that such a Task Force is initiated in a most timely manner in order that the most efficient preparations can be established. The Commission must take the lead and ensure that serious action is being taken to assist the entire supply chain as well as an already vulnerable catching sector. A stable market for fishery and aquaculture products is essential and we need to be provided with the economic knowledge to mitigate losses to our own fisheries."

Related articles:

- New mackerel markets sought to make up for Russian ban
- Mackerel industry to be hit by Russian trade embargo
- Russia bans food imports to retaliate against sanctions 



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