Qatar has temporarily banned seafood imports from India after microbial contamination was detected in some consignments.

This comes in the wake of a nationwide quality check undertaken by the Qatar administration ahead of the FIFA World Cup starting this weekend, industry sources said.

In October, the presence of bacteria was found in two or three shrimp consignments which led to the suspension of all marine product shipments to that country.

Marine Products Export Development Authority (Mpeda) officials have taken up the issue with the public health authorities in Qatar and discussions are in progress to revoke the suspension.

According to industry sources, shrimp consignments sent by six Indian exporters were found to contain harmful bacteria. The West Asian market is very sensitive to such issues and it has come as a bolt from the blue.

However, officials at the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) maintained that Qatar has agreed to lift the ban on the condition that the marine products consignments from India would be certified by the Export Inspection Agency (EIA), which is under the control of the Union government.

The move comes in the wake of the efforts taken by the Commerce Ministry, which according to exporters, comes as a big relief.

Internal arrangement

Jagdish Fofandi, National President of SEAI told businessLine that an internal arrangement has been made between the two countries to sort out the issue. Normally, export inspection agencies in all countries are the nodal agencies to carry out such investigations.

“After the incident, there was a quick response from our side by taking all means to ensure that there was no lapse in quality. We are now waiting for the exports to resume,” he said.

Mpeda officials said they have already issued show cause notice to the concerned exporting firms and it is learnt that EIA temporarily suspended exports from these units.

As a key pillar of market promotion activities, the exporting agency will not compromise on product quality, officials said. Last year, India’s seafood exports to Qatar were 4,000 tonnes and fetched revenue to the tune of $25 million, the officials added.

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