Pakistan suffers $50m loss as ban on seafood to EU goes on

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LAHORE - The country has been suffering loss of around $50 million annually since 2007 following the ban on seafood from Pakistan to European Union because of poor hygienic conditions at the fish harbours, industry experts said.

Efforts are however being made to convince European countries to resume buying while improving quality standards set by the EU importers, observed Punjab Fisheries Department Director General Muhammad Ashraf.

He said that the target of fish production has been set at 0.73 million tons in 2012-13 in the country; however, it has registered a negative growth during last financial year as output was drooped by 24 per cent.

As many as 0.26 million ton of inland and 0.47 tons of marine fish production is estimated during the year 2012-13 to fulfil the domestic consumption as well as to export, seafood industry experts said.

He said that despite a ban by European Union on import of Pakistani fish and fish-related products, the export of seafood is picking up as the local industry makes inroads in new markets. If the EU allows import of Pakistani seafood, export earnings could cross $350 million as some varieties of shrimp did not get a good price in other markets compared to the European Union, DG Fisheries claimed.

Quoting statistics, he stated that export of fish and fish products increased 1.61 per cent during the first four months of this fiscal year to $98.697 million from $97.131 million in the same period last year.

In terms of volume, seafood exports increased by 14.36 per cent, up from 37,592 metric tons last year to 42,990 metric tons during the period under review.

He said that Sindh government is holding talks with experts from the fishery sector to pave the way for lifting of ban on export of shrimps from Pakistan to the members of the European Union. The government assured them that international quality standards would be strictly complied for export quality shrimps and importers would have no cause to complain.

Ashraf stated that the required standards would be maintained, right from the fish catch procedure and practices to their dispatch to final destinations. Special care would be taken to improve hygiene and quality of products. The provincial government and the EU experts extensively discussed modes that may help Pakistan acquire the required export quality standards. He stressed the need to promote modern aqua culture techniques.

He said Netherlands was assisting the Balochistan government to develop Pasni Port and Fish Harbour that would help Pakistan to enhance fish exports to the EU. Ashraf pointed out that a firm, engaged in fish exports, had sought licence to export fish from Pasni to the EU countries.

He pointed out that the government of Japan had provided a grant of Rs800 million for the rehabilitation of Fish Harbour. Holland is engaged in rehabilitation of the harbour so that it meets the required EU quality operational standards.

The provincial government initiated the Rs558-million project for improvement of fishing industry. Priority was given to boat modification and more than 400 boats had been modified per specification of the EU at a cost of around Rs0.2 million to Rs1.3 million each.

Courtesy: Nation

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