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EU Market For Brunei Shrimp

BRUNEI - The Department of Fisheries is looking to add Europe as a destination for Brunei's shrimp exports, as the continent boasts a better market for the product, said the Director of Fisheries during an interview with The Brunei Times.

"The European market is good because shrimp fetches a high price," said Hjh Hasnah Ibrahim.

She said that present shrimp production had met food safety and quality standards to export to other countries such as the United States, Japan and Korea, but not to Europe.

"European standards are very stringent, the toughest in the world," she said.

Hjh Hasnah said that the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) had come to Brunei last year to make inspections. "After their visit, they gave us a number of recommendations and we are now working hard to rectify the gaps," she said, adding that the FVO were expected to make another inspection next year.

The FVO is a service of the European Commission (EC) tasked with ensuring that Community legislation on food safety, animal and plant health, and animal welfare is properly implemented and enforced.

According to the final report of the inspection, found on the EC official website, the FVO had sent two inspectors to evaluate whether the official controls put in place by the Department of Fisheries could guarantee that the conditions of production of fishery products intended for export to the European Union (EU), were equivalent to the requirements laid down in Community legislation in order for the EC to consider the possibility of including Brunei among the countries able to export these products to the EU.

The report stated that the inspection was made after the Department of Fisheries, referred to as the Competent Authority (CA) in Brunei, made an application for permission to export fishery products to the EU in May 2009.

The conclusions of the report were that the CA had developed a quality system based on several documented procedures for the EU fishery product export industry.

However, at the time of inspection, implementation of this system had only just begun and did not completely cover all the requirements of the fishery production chain. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) systems in establishments were not yet evaluated by the CA.

It also stated that the CA could not ensure that raw materials to be used in establishments approved to participate in the EU FP export chain fully met Community requirements.

The Department of Fisheries responded to recommendations given by the FVO; one such proposal was to train those involved by an international expert experienced in fish inspection, on hygiene in processing plants according to EU legislation, auditing and inspection of aquaculture farms, vessels and other establishments, quality control, HACCP systems, traceability and product recall and, in food safety on raw materials and handling to finished products.

Also from February, selected inspectors of the CA for establishments, farms and vessels involved in the production of fishery products intended for EU export, are to be trained in food safety and hygiene in order to be competent.

Hjh Hasnah also spoke about a recent trip she had made to Brussels, to attend the European Seafood Exposition, the world's largest seafood fair which attracts buyers and sellers from over around the world and features over 1,600 exhibitors.

"Exporting to the EU mean fulfilling a lot of requirements. At the expo, there were all kinds of businesses; small and large, and they have all passed the test (to sell to the EU)," she said.

Hjh Hasnah added that she hoped one day a company from Brunei would be among the many exhibitors, displaying quality products.

Increasing exports of fishery products is part of the Brunei's economic growth and diversification plans. The Department of Fisheries has recently completed building a Seafood Storage, Handling and Processing Centre at the Fisheries Landing Complex in Muara, which aims to allow small and medium enterprises to develop and expand into the export market.

the Fish Site Editor

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