The European Union is a major player in world fisheries in both the catching sector and in international trade. It is the second largest producer after China, accounting for 5% of world fisheries catches and aquaculture production (EC, 2006). The EU is the world’s biggest net importer of fisheries products and is increasingly dependent on imports for its fish supply, accounting for 40 % of world imports and 25 % of world exports.

This study was commissioned to review the elements of EU fisheries and trade policies and assess their impact on international trade in fish and fisheries products, particularly to consider, whether the EU is the most efficient processor of fisheries products in the world today, and whether EU fisheries policy has created trade distortions in international trade in fish and fisheries products. Emphasis was put on trade with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

The study reviewed the main elements of the EU’s fisheries and trade policies, including tariffs, non-tariff barriers and eco-labelling, sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures, preferential market access, rules of origin, fisheries subsidies and fisheries access agreements with third countries.

Fisheries trade statistics from FAO and Eurostat as well as data from other sources were analysed to investigate all fish supply chains into Europe, the connection into processed products and consequent exports for existing trade figures and commercial sources, and to answer questions on whether the EU captures a disproportionate amount of world trade in fisheries products.

The above analysis was used as a basis to consider the potential impacts on fisheries trade of the most-likely outcomes of the WTO round and Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations, as well as the Fisheries Partnership Agreements (FPAs), for the various ACP regions. In light of this, and considering the foreseen changes taking place in world trading arrangements the implications for developing countries were considered and recommendations made.

The results of the study were presented at a number of fora, including a meeting of SADC and ESA Fisheries and Trade Ministers, and a meeting of EU Fisheries Development Advisers.

Name of Client

Department For International Development (DFID)

Project Dates



Global/ACP countries