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The PECH Committee requested research on the “Seafood industry integration in all EU Member States with a coastline” and this research was presented in the Committee on 3 December 2019.
The study provides a clear description of the corporate structure of the EU seafood industry (fishing, processing and the retail market). It provides in-depth insight of both the horizontal and vertical integration of the industry, and also explains the role of the third country operators and intermediaries.
Issues around vertical integration centre on what drives a firm to vertically integrate; why a firm will buy out one of its suppliers or customers or in some other way internalise the production of an intermediate good. In commercial fisheries there is one added dimension. The resource exploited – fish – is not always characterised by a private property rights structure. Rather, the fishing grounds are either common property or open access resources.
Some stakeholders are concerned by the increase in integration. The main concern is not based on economics but on equity and social justice. Fishing has been a family tradition in many communities. And while evidence suggests that integration can make fisheries more efficient, some find the potential gains in efficiency to be outweighed by social and other costs. These costs include the decline in independent fishermen and the disruption to coastal communities because of lost revenues and jobs.
This research is intended to document the evidence and provide an analysis of the current level of integration at the EU level.
Watch video of the event (with multilingual interpretation):