As the US ban on sea caught shrimps from India continues with most fishing vessels yet to be fitted with devices to protect sea turtles, the visit of the expert team from the country to Kerala and other western coastal states may assume importance.
The department of state in the US had issued a notification in May banning wild caught shrimps from countries that do not comply with fishing practices that protect sea turtles. It requires the fishing vessels and gear to be fitted with turtle excluder device (TED).
Currently, the US has the largest share of Indian seafood export worth over Rs 45,000 crore last year, at 33%. Of the total value, nearly 70% constitutes frozen shrimps. A senior officer of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) said close to 90% of the value of shrimps is from farmed shrimp and only the rest is from that caught from the sea.
Though the nesting of sea turtles is negligible in the Kerala coast, the visit of the US team assumes importance as the state accounts for the largest share of sea caught shrimps in the seafood export. The state’s share in the total seafood export from the country is around Rs 5,000 crore.
“In the absence of the US, the sea-caught shrimps from Kerala and Karnataka are going to other countries but fetch lower prices,” said Prema Chandra Bhat, MD of Mangala Marine Exim.
The team had visited Odisha, where mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles take place and inspected the fishing practices. “The team seems to have been satisfied with the fishing facilities as the state government has taken steps to protect the sea turtles,” said Tara Ranjan Patnaik, MD of Falcon Marine Exports. The other states in the eastern coast like West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, too, are following suit.
MPEDA had given an explanation in August to the US on the ban notification. The team visited Odisha this month and has scheduled a visit to the western coast in January.