EU May Test A Fifth of Indian Aquaculture Imports

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
3 March 2010, at 12:00am

INDIA - Finding fault with the residue monitoring and testing methodology employed by India, the European Union might decide to check 20 per cent of Indian aquaculture exports to the region.

The decision to scrutinise 20 per cent of the exports at random and its effective implementation might commence from April, sources in the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) told The Hindu Business Line.

Why the testing

The problem arose mainly due to the recurrent rejections of cultured scampi exports to the EU in the early part of last year. Now the random testing is likely to be extended to all aquaculture exports from India to EU.

The industry was confident that the testing would pose no difficulty for black tiger shrimp exports. The introduction of field-level testing of scampi at the production level is also expected to at least partly alleviate the problem. Field-level testing is now being enforced across all major aquaculture states in the country.

A barrier

But the proposed move, if it materialises, would prove a major barrier to Indian exporters and an inherent advantage to competitors. The Indian exporter would have no clue if his consignment might be selected for testing at the port of arrival.

The delays in testing would mean delays in reaching the consignment to the EU importer, the shelves of the supermarkets and the final consumer. With this sort of an uncertainty, why should the importer continue to depend on Indian exporter for his needs, some exporters wondered.

This would definitely be to the advantage of competitors from other countries whose export consignments would arrive without any such delays and apprehensions.

Biggest market

While conceding that 20 per cent checking is far better than an outright ban, industry sources, however, pointed out that would still create numerous problems for the industry.

The EU continues to be the biggest export destination even during the current year, accounting for almost one-third of the volume and value of India's total seafood exports.

Export to EU is more than double that to Japan, the second biggest export destination. EU export consists mainly of squid, cuttlefish and shrimp. While squid and cuttlefish exports are mainly caught wild from the seas, shrimps are almost always sourced from farm aquaculture.

While black tiger shrimp farming has so far caused no significant difficulties, problems with scampi culture could pose a problem to Indian aquaculture exports as a whole to the EU region.