China, the world’s biggest exporter of seafood, could soon face tighter access to the European Union, the world’s biggest import market for seafood.
The European Parliament’s adoption of new fisheries control rules will result in more scrutiny of the origins of Chinese seafood, according to a parliamentary report investigating the implications of accepting Chinese products into the bloc.
China shipped USD 2.2 billion (EUR 2 billion) worth of seafood to the E.U. in 2022, and that figure has continued to grow in 2023, with Chinese purchases from the bloc up 5.6 percent in volume and 10.3 percent in value year over year as the continent has turned away from higher-value products like shrimp in favor of products like Chinese-processed whitefish.
However, E.U. parliamentarians and fishing representatives are united in wanting to tighten access for Chinese exporters if there’s any suspicion their products are connected to illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. In sending out the report emphasizing the consequences of Chinese products coming into the bloc, the Euroepan Parliament also suggested collaboration with Beijing to increase transparency and align the standards between the two sides on fisheries governance standards.
“We badly need more transparency on fisheries imports in Europe, and we also need to crack down on IUU fishing, which we know is rife in the Chinese fishing fleet,” Grace O’Sullivan, a member of the European Parliament’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (PECH) Committee, said. “We need to do the same with our own fishing fleets, but with the Chinese fleet expanding at such an unsustainable rate, we cannot turn a blind eye to the risks.”
Though the new fisheries rules should aid in traceability efforts covering Chinese and other products, the E.U. has other tools it can use to punish countries
Photo courtesy of Green Party of Ireland

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