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EU May Relax Shrimp Testing Requirements

Crustaceans Politics

EU & BANGLADESH - Bangladesh's success in fulfilling most of the aquaculture compliances, recommended by the EU authority in fish farming, will lead to withdrawal of 20 per cent stringent testing requirements for entering the highly regulated markets, exporters and officials said.

The success of the country was revealed in the recent draft report, prepared by the European Union (EU) Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) team. The team visited the country from March 24 to April 01 this year, reports the Gippsland Aquaculture Industry Network.

The draft report said: "Improvements were seen in the residue monitoring system particularly in the laboratories. In contrast to the findings in 2010, the analytical methods used for the residue monitoring programme in crustaceans and for the pre-export testing are now validated and fit for purpose".

The EU authority sent the draft report to the Department of Fisheries (DoF) last week. The EU also downsized its list of recommendations, which are not fully addressed by the country's authority, to four from 12 of last year.

Shamsul Kibria, joint secretary of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL), commented on the improvements made, stating, that they had improved in nearly all their aquaculture compliences that were recommended by the EU FVO team last time and that this could be clearly seen in the draft report.

He continued: "We will take measures to comply with the four recommendations, suggested in the draft report, within this year. We will provide our response to the EU authority regarding our initiatives to fulfil those recommendations by this month, and also request them to withdraw the stringent testing measure".

"It's a matter of time, and we hope that the EU authority will take its decision in our favour, as the draft report has said about our improvements in residue control and fulfilling their other requirements," Mr Kibria said.

Agreeing with the MoFL official, director general of DoF, Mahbubur Rahman, commented that although the draft report does not give any hint as to the withdrawal of the 20 per cent stringent mandatory testing requirement which was implemented July 2010, it will help to raise the issue of withdrawal to the EU authority.

The DoF chief said: "We are now confident and hopeful about the withdrawal of the 20 per cent testing requirement, following our improvements". However, the withdrawal still largely depends on the report of the team.

The exporters and officials have voiced their opinion on the report stating how “it will help exporters seek justice from the EU” and have stressed how the visit is crucial for the shrimp industry, saying it would determine the fate of the country's third largest foreign currency earning item.

In 2010, local exporters received only four rapid alerts, while the number was 54 in 2009. It also proves the country's efficiency in complying with the foreign buyers' demands, the exporter said.

During the ten-day visit, the team scrutinised the present situation in residue control in living animals and animal products, and the control of veterinary medicinal products. The measures are seen as key requirements for export of shrimps to the 27 EU countries.

The DoF said during the visit the EU delegation monitored whether the country's fish farms, landing stations, depots and processing plants have enforced some key health and hygiene standards, suggested during its visit early last year.

The EU is the largest importer of Bangladeshi shrimps, accounting for nearly 50 per cent of the shipments made last year. The country exported shrimps worth $470.53 million in the July-March period of 2010-11 fiscal, recording a robust growth of 58 per cent.

Shrimp farming is one of the key sources of employment in the country's south-western coastal region. The country's 130 shrimp processing plants and tens of thousands of farms employ over one million people.