Written Q&A to EU Commission – Labelling of fishery products – Catch date

Question for written answer
to the Commission 
Rule 117
Dolores García-Hierro Caraballo (S&D) (12th March 2014)

Subject:  Labelling of fishery products

As is stated in an amendment tabled during the adoption of the regulation on the common organisation of the markets in fishery and aquaculture products, the catch date shown on the label of fishery products provides objective information on the freshness of such products, or in other words on the ‘net to plate’ period. Indicating the catch date would benefit small‐scale fishermen and aquaculture operators in the EU, who market their products through short supply chains, and promote local consumption. It would also help create a level playing field for those products without adversely affecting other sections of the EU fleet, such as the long‐distance fleet. The catch date is of particular value to consumers, as it enables them to select which fishery products to buy in full knowledge of the facts.

Moreover, indicating the catch date entails no additional burden for the fisheries sector, as it is already one of the traceability requirements under the Fisheries Control Regulation. Traceability is supposed to ensure that information is available at every stage of the marketing chain: production, processing, wholesaling, distribution and retailing. However, the catch date is not displayed for the consumer to see. This could be done simply by extracting the information from the traceability chain and inserting it on the label.

Does the Commission not see a need to again propose that including this information in the labelling of fishery products be made a requirement?

Does it not consider that making this compulsory would be beneficial for consumer protection and public health?

Answer given by Ms Damanaki on behalf of the Commission, 15th April 2014

At the time of the adoption of Regulation 1379/2013 on the common organisation of the markets, the Commission made a statement on certain provisions on mandatory consumer information. In particular, the Commission regrets that the co-legislators removed from the Commission’s proposal the obligation to indicate the ‘date of catch’ and the ‘date of harvest’ for fishery and aquaculture products, respectively.

Regulation 1379/2013 has also removed the empowerment of the Commission to supplement or amend the mandatory information requirements by delegated acts, as proposed by the Commission. Therefore, the modification of these requirements is only possible through the ordinary legislative procedure, i.e. through Regulations of the European Parliament and of the Council adopted by co-decision.

The Commission does not consider appropriate to submit legislative proposals for amending the consumer information requirements immediately after the adoption of the new common market organisation. In addition, the ‘date of catch’ and the ‘date of harvest’ can be provided on a voluntary basis as provided for in Article 39 of Regulation 1379/2013. The Commission considers that if these dates were mandatory, they would provide essential information for consumers, would clearly benefit the Union’s small-scale fishermen and farmers, and promote short distribution channels for fishery and aquaculture products.

(Source: European Parliament)

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