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Indonesia's Shrimp Farmers Want End to Imports

INDONESIA - Shrimp producers and researchers are demanding an end to imports because of the threats of the entry of disease, a collapse in prices and toxic chemicals.

Shrimp producers and academics from the Indonesian Aquaculture Community (MAI) protested on 28 October against the government's policy of importing shrimp, according to Jakarta Post.

At a press conference held in Yogyakarta, the more than 250 participants from regions across Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Java denounced the impact the imports were having on the local shrimping industry.

MAI secretary-general, Agung Sudaryono, said the import policy would "devastate" the local industry and render futile the myriad research and development into shrimp. "Imports will only kill the producers and incapacitate the researchers," he said.

He added Indonesia was rich in natural resources, possessed the right technology and skilled human resources in the shrimp business, and was currently one of the biggest shrimp producers in the world.

"Continuing to import shrimp gradually poses a threat to shrimp production nationwide," Mr Agung added.

Imports can also pave the way for diseases to enter the country and affect shrimp prices in the domestic and international markets, he said. Other threats to the local shrimping industry include the use of toxic chemicals such as melamine and bacteria-inhibiting agents such as nitrofuran.

This will eventually discourage consumers in Europe and the United States from buying Indonesian shrimp and further impact on producers, he said.

Indonesia's shrimp production has increased from 300,000 tons in 2008 year to 400,000 tons this year, reports Jakarta Post.

Lampung shrimper, Mr Agus, said it would be better if the government focused more on developing shrimp farms than rolling out "controversial policies" such as shrimp imports. "Shrimp production in Indonesia has the potential for further development," he said.

Mr Agus added the government should also help shrimp producers get easier access to loans, pointing out banks were reluctant to lend because the business was considered risky.

"The prospects for the shrimping industry are very promising," he told Jakarta Post. "If the government doesn't want to help, then who else will develop the national shrimping industry?"

the Fish Site Editor

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