Agri Business

US restrictions continue to hit exports of wild-caught shrimps

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on November 26, 2019 Published on November 26, 2019

The country’s marine export basket comprises shrimps from aquaculture farms, with the Vanna#mei and Black Tiger species enjoying good demand   -  THE HINDU

Allegations of lack of turtle-excludingdevices in fishing nets behind ban

The US restrictions on wild-caught shrimps from India will continue for the time being, as the US Department of State has again denied permission for the entry of the harvested seafood variety in that market.

The decision comes in the wake of the recent inspection by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the US Department of State to assess the wild-caught shrimp harvesting systems in India.

The US had temporarily disallowed imports of wild-caught shrimps following reports of the absence of turtle-excluding devices in the fishing nets. However, the NMFS has clarified that aquaculture (farm-raised) shrimp harvested in India is eligible to enter the US market.

India’s Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) has already contested the observations of the NMFS team and placed its plea before the Commerce Ministry for further action, sources in the sector said.

The US is the major market for Indian wild caught shrimps. The restrictions have impacted shrimp exports, which have registered a 10-15 per cent drop in shipments. Seafood exporters from Kerala will be affected most by the ban, as they focus more on small-size shrimps such as Poovalan and Karikkadi. Their exports to the US market are estimated at $300 million per year.

Export impact

India’s shrimp exports to the US were around ₹15,000 crore, of which the share of wild-caught shrimps was around 11 per cent. The country’s marine export basket also comprises shrimps from aquaculture farms, where species such as Vannamei and Black Tiger enjoy good overseas demand.

“We have taken up the matter with the Commerce Ministry through MPEDA to discuss the issues with the US authorities,” a leading seafood exporter told BusinessLine. Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Odisha have already enacted legislation mandating trawlers to install turtle excluding devices; other coastal States are expected to follow shortly,” the source said.

“Exporters have also requested the Ministry to take up the matter with the US authorities so that the catch from these three States can be exempted from the US restrictions. As an immediate measure, they have even offered to install American devices on trawlers. “We have requested the government to take up all these matters with the US authorities,” the source said.

Besides, the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has been entrusted to carry out a survey of turtle sightings on the West Coast. Turtles nest mainly in Odisha, where the State government has taken strict measures to protect the species, the source added.

According to Charles George, President of the Kerala Matsya Thozhilali Aikya Vedi, the restrictions will have a cascading effect on the State’s fishery sector, as the wild-caught varieties amount to about 35,000 tonnes per year.

Of this, the majority is exported to the US.

Since the sector is already facing a crisis, fresh restrictions will hit ancillary sectors such as processing and trawling, leading to job losses, said George.

He alleged that it was the slowdown in the US economy that prompted the authorities to continue with the ban, as the current business environment has affected the purchasing power of people there.

Published on November 26, 2019
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