India exported a total of 11,34,948 tonnes of seafood valued at all-time high Rs37,870.90 crore ($5.78 billion) in 2016-17 against 9,45,892 tonnes valued at $4.69 billion in the previous year, and the government has now set an export target of Rs1,00,000 crore by 2022.
However, the issue of use of antibiotics in Indian aquaculture, particularly in shrimp farms and hatcheries, has come as a stumbling block for expanding exports in the wake of detection of antibiotics such as nitrofuran and chloramphenicol in shrimp exported from India.
Importing countries, especially in the European Union, have increased the frequency of inspection from 10 per cent to 50 per cent with effect from October 2016 and exporters should take extra care to ensure that exported products are free of antibiotics and other harmful elements, secretary, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries (DADF), Devendra Chaudhry told a meeting of representatives of coastal states and other stakeholders.
Frozen shrimp maintained its position as the top contributor with 38.28 per cent share in quantity and 64.50 per cent of the total earnings in dollar terms from seafood exports. An increase of 16.21 per cent in terms of quantity and 20.33 per cent in terms of dollar has been recorded over the previous year.
The demand from the European Union for Indian marine products grew substantially during this period while USA and South East Asia continued to be the major importers.
The overall export of shrimp alone was pegged at 4,34,484 tonnes worth $3.73 billion during 2016-17. USA was the largest import market for frozen shrimp (1,65,827 tonnes), followed by the EU (77,178 tonnes), South East Asia (1,05,763 tonnes), Japan (31,284 tonnes), Middle East (19,554 tonnes), China (7818 tonnes) and other countries (27,063 tonnes).
The meeting was attended by the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB), Export Inspection Council (EIC), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) and other stakeholders, including Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI), All India Shrimp Hatcheries Association (AISHA), Society of Aquaculture Professionals (SAP), Prawn Farmers Federations, Compound Livestock Feed Manufacturers Association (CLFMA), Fisheries institutions etc.
The meeting discussed the concerns of stakeholders and possible causes of the problem in detail during the intense deliberations. It was decided that the issue is a complex one and has to be addressed by various regulatory agencies in the central and state governments.
Accordingly, DADF will, under its mandate for disease monitoring and control under the relevant regulations, coordinate and monitor the issue.
Regulatory bodies such as the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (DGSCO) and the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) will be consulted for working out a workable regulatory mechanism within the available legal provisions so that effective enforcement is in place including penal action against violators.