The sea food exports from India are slated to hit a road block because of more stringent quality and safety assessment procedures being put in place by the importing countries in the EU. Though Indian exporters may insist on not using antibiotics in aqua culture production system in vogue in the country, food poisoning scare amongst western countries is forcing them to increase vigilance as a preemptive step to prevent serious food related adverse episodes.
"After the catch certificate issue, resolved successfully a few months back, India's seafood exports to the European Union (EU) are facing a fresh challenge in the form of mandatory testing of all aquaculture exports for anti-biotic residues from April 1, 2010. Based on the reports of the technical committee on seafood imports to the Euro Zone, the EU Health Authority has recommended checking of at least 20% of the aquaculture products imported from India for various tests such as antibiotic residue and micro-organisms.This could lead to huge delays in the Indian shipment reaching the end consumers and a fall in exports to the EU, officials at Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) told FE.The EU is one of the largest importers of Indian aquaculture products and is an important market. According to the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) sources, aquaculture exports to the EU account for almost 32% (in value) of total seafood exports.The EU has been tightening import norms based on environmental and health concerns. India was forced to implement a system to track all fishes exported to the European Union with the latter insisting on catch certificates for all fish imports from January 2010".
As buyers are supreme and suppliers have very little choice but to meet former's demands, there is no alternative to India to expanding the quality testing infrastructure to take up much larger number of samples for assessment immediately to prevent adverse consequences of a probable collapse in sea food exports. The need to set up quick testing instruments cannot be over emphasized. MPEDA has a serious challenge on its hands to meet the new demands from the EU and the sea food industry in India, with sufficient resilience, may weather the new crisis also with some minor hiccups.