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National fisheries policy announced

PAKISTAN - This year, Pakistan has so far incurred a loss of $100 million on seafood exports due to the European Union ban.

This season fish landings have doubled, compared with the previous year and Pakistan's fish industries beleive that they could achieve exports of $200 million if there was no EU ban on seafood export Pakistan could .

The previous year target for seafood export was $210 million but exports were $ 184 million. This year the target is $200 million but looking difficult to achieve, if the ban is not lifted immediately.

The government has recently announced the National Fisheries Policy, which indicated an annual increase of 53,000 tonnes in fisheries production besides boosting the export of sea food products. It mentions that the growth in export could only be possible if catch wastage ratio is reduced substantially. It stated that the ban would remain unchanged until the private sector met the EU standards. Pakistan faced embargos on its exports first in 1998, then in February 2005 and most recently in April 2007.

The EU embargo affects processing and pre-processing activities, both of which are regulated by SPS-HACCP standards. SPS is the acronym for Sanitary and Phytosanitary standards. These are universal health safety standards which have WTO sanction under the agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). The HACCP, which stands for Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, refers to implementation modalities. These can vary across regions and countries.

Fish harvesting is governed by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standards. While MSC standards are not presently being applied in Pakistan, they provide the appropriate context for sustainable harvesting. A recent UN report predicts a severe depletion of global fish stocks in the next 50 years. Therefore, it is expected that MSC standards would be applied more universally. The Convention has defined territorial and exclusive economic zones for all states. As regards the sanitary and phytosanitary laws for ensuring quality of imported and domestic goods under the WTO, it is already under process, but when it would be ready for implementation was not indicated.

Source: ThePost