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The EU is a key player in fisheries trade and has become the largest market for fish imports.

The EU is increasingly dependent on imports of fish and fishery products to meet its needs. In 2009, the EU imported €15.5 billion worth of fish and fishery products, accounting for more than 60% of it fish consumption. Europe exported €2.5 billion worth of fisheries goods in 2009, the bulk of it to large markets like Norway, Russia and Japan. Total aquaculture production in the EU is around 1.3 million tonnes.

As the world’s largest market for fish imports, the EU has a major interest in improving market access conditions both at multilateral and bilateral level. In the Doha Round of World Trade Organisation negotiations, the EU is seeking to both reduce the tariffs for European fisheries exports and tighten international rules on the kind of subsidies that can be paid to fishermen to ensure the long-term sustainability of global fisheries.

Recognising the importance of fisheries exports for many developing countries, the EU grants preferential access to their fish and fishery products through the Generalised System of Preferences system. Furthermore, the EU charges no tariffs for all fisheries imports from the 50 Least Developed Countries.