The new Seafood Import Monitoring Policy (SIMP) regulations of the US on shrimps and other marine products are giving India’s seafood sector the jitters as it sees a backlash on surging exports.
Unless some effective steps have been taken by exporters, the move — which will be effective from January 1 — may impact 50 per cent of India’s shrimp production that is headed for the US.
Seafood exporters have called for measures to strengthen the procedures for registration of aquaculture farms and fishing boats and linking them to certification to tackle traceability issues that affect clearance by health authorities abroad.
Alex Ninan, President, Seafood Exporters Association of India – Kerala Region, told BusinessLine that unless such documentations are in place, it will affect marketing to system-based super markets and retail chains.
The exporters’ body has represented these issues to Union Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu. Adequate measures for regulatory control of use of antibiotics and other prohibited substances by aquaculture farmers are needed. The initiatives of the Andhra Pradesh government in this regard should be supported by the Ministry and implemented across India, SEAI said.
Nucleus breeding centre
As brood-stock supply is entirely import dependent, SEAI emphasised the need to set up a Nucleus Breeding Centre (NBC) for specific pathogen-free shrimp brood-stock. India’s vannamei shrimp production has crossed six lakh tonnes and is expected to exceed a million tonnes by 2020. Therefore, the creation of an NBC would facilitate domestic availability of brood-stock, which is critical for the sustenance and growth of the sector, SEAI said.
High import duties on marine products in China, South Korea, and South-East Asian markets should be reduced through trade discussions. The exporters body was also critical of the Korean authorities’ decision to mandate new tests including White Spot Syndrome even for sea shrimps leading to 100 per cent rejection. Because of this, exporters were not able to take advantage of the 10,000-tonne duty-free exports.
According to Ninan, there is a tremendous opportunity to make India a processing hub as Vietnam, Thailand and China have done to generate more than billion dollar of exports, and job opportunities. However, the need of the hour is favourable procedures for importing raw material and ingredients for processing in India and re-export. Extension of the interest subvention scheme to the marine product sector would provide exporters a level playing field with competitors in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries.
The Association requested action at the ministerial level with EU countries for the reduction of sampling to 10 per cent for inspection. SEAI has also called for extending agriculture status to fisheries, both capture and culture, as it will reduce the burden of the primary producers with fiscal supports on tax and cost reductions on power, insurance and interest as well as extension of soft credit.