FIJI MAKES HEADWAY TOWARDS EU FISH EXPORTS

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Two companies meet European market standards

By Mary Rauto SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, March 9, 2011) - Two Fiji companies have met the requirements set by the European Union to export fish. In addition to this, seven vessels have also qualified.

The Health Ministry’s Food Unit, which is monitoring the compliance level for the EU, prepares its establishment list. Food Unit head Jope Tamani said the EU had one of the most challenging requirements but those would improve and ensure high-quality export products.

He said everything from vessels to transport, ice plants, factories and processing was assessed.

"It’s not a piece of cake," he said. "We deserve our place there. We are going through the final formalities; a list of the approved establishment. Once that is done, the first consignment can leave our shores. This is very important for Fiji because it will open up a market and with the tsunami and earthquake in Japan, it would slow down the market there.

"But the EU is the single most biggest market and one of the most stable in terms of money. This will work well for Fiji, especially in terms of employment."

Mr. Tamani said monitoring and verifying by his unit was a huge responsibility.

"We are in charge of monitoring, verifying and all the approval from Fiji is the responsibility of the food unit," he said. "It’s a huge responsibility which requires a lot of manpower and skills."

Earlier this week, the European Parliament approved a trade agreement between the EU, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Fiji was de-listed at the outcome of the EU audit back in 2007 while PNG remained on the list.

Tamani said the whole chain was basically out of control and Fiji had to earn its place on the list.

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