The seafood industry has sought the intervention of the Commerce Ministry for an early lifting of the US ban on sea-caught shrimps from India which has been imposed for not complying with the fishing practice to protect sea turtles.
Highlighting the industry view before the visiting Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce, the Seafood Exporters Association of India pointed out that majority of the exporters from the region has been affected by the ban as it provided a good income not only to the industry but thousands of fishermen in the region. Wild shrimps account for almost Rs. 2,800 crore share in the India’s seafood export basket, which was mainly caught from Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Tamil Nadu.
The industry also highlighted the issue of a 30-40 per cent drop raw material from the West Coast, as they fear that it would impact the country’s export basket, said Alex K Ninan, President – Kerala chapter of the Seafood Exporters Association of India. Of late, the deep sea catch from Kerala to Gujarat has been witnessing a low arrivals in shrimp varieties such as Poovalan and Karikkadi, Cuttlefish, Squids, Octopus and Fishes especially after the lifting of trawling ban and the authorities have cited climate change as a reason for the dwindling catch.
Senior officials from the Marine Products Export Development Authority also participated in the meeting.
Ninan told BusinessLine that there was a dip in exports and the industry is batting for value addition and the creation of a reprocessing hub in India as was done by countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, China and Indonesia to cater to the global markets. Such a move, he said would enable India to carry out direct seafood shipments to supermarkets and retailers that would help fetch higher prices for the produce and thereby benefiting farmers and fishermen.
Promotion of aquaculture
The other issues highlighted by the industry include promotion of aquaculture in all maritime states, uplifting of fishing harbours across the country, promotion of value added exports, re-listing of seafood export processing units that were de-listed by European Union, ease of doing business from unnecessary controls from different agencies for duplicate monitoring work etc.
Meanwhile, a source in the seafood sector said there has been a subdued demand in the major markets in the US, Europe, Japan on account of the winter season and the trade there have sufficient spill over stocks to meet the demand. January-February months are considered as a lull season in many overseas markets after the New Year demand.