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EU continues ban on seafood and market suffers

PAKISTAN - The government is unable to restart exports of seafood to the European Union (EU). The EU is a big market for Pakistani seafood and an expected loss may be about $ 47 to $ 50 million this year. Earlier, the MFD sent the plan to the EU, but it was rejected for various reasons.

There are also some US restrictions on seafood exports, which needed to be lifted. The EU has banned seafood exports from Pakistan since April 2007. The action was taken after its inspectors’ visit to Pakistan in January this year. They found the industry’s food processing below their standards. The EU had also raised complaints against fishing vessels, auction halls and processing units, which have still not been addressed by the fishermen community.

However, to remove their objections the Government of Sindh has spent Rs 50 million to meet the EU export standards.

In 2004, the per capita food fish supply was estimated at 13.5 kg, excluding China. Overall, fish provided more than 2.6 billion people with at least 20 percent of their average per capita animal protein intake. The share of fish proteins in the total world animal protein supplies grew from 14.9 percent in 1992 to 16.0 percent in 1996, but declined to about 15.5 percent in 2003.

The estimates for 2005 indicate that the total world fishery production was 142 million tonnes, an increase of one million tonnes over 2004, and a record production. Although the total amount of fish available for human consumption have increased to 107 million tonnes, but its per capita availability remained at the same level as in 2004 because of population growth. China remains the largest producer, with fisheries production of 47.5 million tonnes in 2004, 16.9 capture and 30.6 million tonnes aquaculture. This provides an estimated domestic food supply of 28.4 kg per capita, as well as production for export and non-food purposes.

Serious reductions
The EU’s eight-month ban on the Pakistani seafood has reduced the exports of fish and its preparations by 44 percent during August 2007. The main reason of this ban is the attitude of the Sindh government officials, who failed to maintain hygienic standards in line with the EU specifications. The other major reason was the insufficient seafood stocks for export due to an official ban on sea ventures for fishing during June and July, as the Arabian Sea during this period remained rough with high tides and caused many fatal accidents. The off-season of fish catching is also another reason for bringing down fish stocks during August. Similarly, during July-August 2007, the export also fell by 37.12 percent or $ 9.559 million, the exports stood at $ 16.192 million against $ 25.751 million during the same period last year.

The country’s seafood exports registered more than 40 percent growth last year, reached $ 196.15 million by June 2006 up from $ 138.94 million exported during 2004-05. The seafood export surpassed the target set for 2005-06 of $ 160 million by 22.5 percent. Pakistan exported seafood worth $ 188 million during the financial year 2006-07, which was almost four percent less against $ 196 million of 2005-06. August-September is the peak period of the season and before the ban Pakistan used to export over 90 percent seafood products to the EU in these months. Due to the EU ban, the shrimp exporters had explored some markets in the Middle East, China and Korea. The European countries are the largest buyers of Pakistani seafood, mainly shrimps, for more than two decades, sharing 53 percent of the total export to the world. Of the total 60 percent are exported through the fish harbour auction hall. A few exporters have direct landing of seafood to their processing units from the approved fishing boats under the Vendor Assurance Programme (VAP).

Source: The Post

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