Paving the way to break the eight-month-old impasse in the export of Indian wild-caught shrimp to the United States, a team of officers from the US Department of State will arrive in Kerala on March 29 on a week-long visit to assess the steps initiated by the country to conserve turtles.
The team will visit various harbours along the west coast and will also interact with the Fisheries officers, exporters and representatives of various government agencies.
The US Department of State had on May 1, 2017, certified 39 nations and one economy and granted determinations for seven fisheries for their initiatives to protect sea turtles during the course of commercial shrimp fishing. Only these permitted countries are allowed to export wild-caught shrimp to the US under Section 609 of Public Law 101-162.
As India failed to make it to the list, the US banned the import of wild-caught shrimp from the country from July 2018. According to industry sources, the ban has landed many seafood export houses in deep trouble and the country has suffered a 15 per cent to 20 per cent decline in export revenue.
Concerned over the ban, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has issued an advisory urging the fishing regulators in the country to make turtle excluder devices (TED) mandatory on all nets used by trawl vessels.
“The US Department of State has brought in stringent regulations to ensure the protection of sea turtles, as the species is in danger of extinction due to destructive fishing practices. The US is a major market for Indian shrimps. We have convinced them that there is no presence of turtles in the west coast. We hope the visit of the team will help remove the ban,” Seafood Exporters Association of India Kerala chapter president Alex K Ninan told Express.
Meanwhile, a team of officers from the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), led by chairman K S Srinivas, left for the US on Friday to participate in a seafood trade fair at Boston. The team will interact with the US authorities on various issues, sources said.
Allaying the fears of the industry, the MPEDA issued a statement that the US decision to withdraw the benefits extended to India under the Generalised System of Preferences programme (GSP) will not affect the export of seafood from India to that country. “There is widespread apprehension that the decision will affect the seafood exports from India to US market. The MPEDA made a detailed analysis and found that there will not be any immediate setback due to the withdrawal of GSP benefit in seafood exports,” the statement said.
India exports seafood worth $2,300 million to the US per year with frozen shrimp as the principal item of exports. However, frozen shrimp currently enjoys zero tariff and is not covered under the GSP. Moreover, other items such as frozen fish and frozen cephalopods do not enjoy benefits under the GSP. Hence, the withdrawal of GSP will not affect our seafood exports to the US, said a senior officer.
- $2,300 million worth seafood exported from India to US per year
- Indian wild-caught shrimp banned in the US from July 2018
- 15% - 20% decline in export revenue recorded due to ban