Thirteen countries from East and South East Asia participated in a recent regional workshop in Bali, Indonesia, on safe and sustainable fisheries organized by ISO (International Organization for Standardization) in cooperation with the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI).

Participants from 13 countries on the recent workshop in Bali on how to improve the sustainability of fisheries

Safe and sustainable trade in the fisheries sector is a key issue for both developed and developing countries. The Bali workshop identified three main issues:

  • Over exploitation, illegal fishing
  • Product quality and safety
  • Need for competitive products for the international markets.

Addressing these issues are standards, schemes and good practice developed by international organizations such as ISO, Codex, FAO, OIE and GFSI. However, the multiplicity of regulations and standards is confusing, meeting them is costly and they can also pose non-tariff barriers to trade.

As a solution, some countries have developed their own national certification schemes, but this is not sustainable as they do not have international recognition, and they add to the complexity of the situation.

Therefore, coordination between international organizations is essential for the sustainability of the whole sector. In particular, they need to align requirements for food safety and quality through mutual recognition of certification schemes.

To address these issues, action plans were proposed at the workshop defining the objectives to be achieved and the actors involved on national, regional and international levels.

The next step is for the participants in the workshop to pass on the lessons to their respective national groups, and carry out similar awareness and discussion workshops in their countries, involving, for example, producers, workers, inspectors, testing laboratories, transporters, food chain professionals, export promotion agencies, storage and freight forwarders.

The 13 national delegations from the region that participated in the workshop – held on 13-16 September 2011 – included representatives of national standards institutes, government and industry. The participating countries were: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

It was organized with the support of the ISO member for Indonesia, Badan Standardisasi Nasional (BSN) and the financial assistance of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).