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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Seafood exporters at sea over delay in ‘catch certificate’ process
Kochi - With the government dithering on issuing a notification designating an agency to issue catch certificate for fish caught in Indian waters, exporters are worried that exports to European Union (EU) may come under threat.
With EU insisting on catch certificates for all fish materials imported into the Union from January 2010, exporters are concerned that non-compliance with the norm will stop all exports. Competing countries, with the exception of Vietnam and Bangladesh have complied with the regulation.
Indian needs to move fast and put in an agency and process that stands international scrutiny, national president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), Anwar Hashim, told FE.
Traceability is the ability to trace the history, application, or location of any entity by means of recorded identifications.
In seafood exports, that calls for identification of fishing region, time of catch and the fishing boat and the harbour where fish was landed, Anwar Hashim said. This can also help in curbing illegal trawling in the India ’s exclusive economic zone, he added.
“The government is talking of a role for the state government in certification. Multiple agencies would complicate issues and increase cost. We need a single central nodal agency like Marine Products Exports Development Agency (MPEDA) to deal with this,” he added.
The EU continues to be the largest market for Indian seafood accounting for 25% of the volume and 33% of the total value of exports. “A drop in exports to the EU would mean a catastrophe in the domestic market. A surplus of 1.5-1.75 lakh tonne of seafood in the domestic market would depress prices and kill the incentive for fishing,” Hashim said.
Unlike the US market that consumes more shrimp, exports to the EU mainly consist of fish like cuttle, squid and ribbonfish. Implementing traceability in developing countries like India, where the modern and the traditional systems of fishing co-exist, would be near to impossible, sources said. It would be impossible to implement this among numerous country-crafts, which dock with their catches anywhere along the coastline.
The cost and the resistance from them would also hinder the implementation. Some exporters are worried that it might develop as a non-tariff barrier on Indian seafood.
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