Implementation Of SPS Norms A Must To Boost Marine Exports

New Delhi, Sept 21: | Updated: Sep 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
The issue of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures has become a major problem for marine products exporters in the country with recent rejection of many consignments by importing countries. Both the trade experts and environmentalists have urged for implementation of SPS measures for boosting countrys marine exports and for ensuring health and hygiene of the people.

Indias exports of marine products have increased by 11.66 per cent to be at $1,380.94 million in 2002-03 as compared to $1,236.76 million in 2001-02. But the country can further boost its exports, if the SPS measures are implemented, they said.

In August 2003, the United Kingdom rejected two Indian consignments of frozen raw headless prawns on the grounds that it contained nitrofuran and nitrofurazone. Italy rejected Indian consignment of frozen prawn tails as it contained vibrio cholerae, Spain rejected Indian consignment of cuttlefish, squid and strips of squids as it contained mesophiles. Germany rejected two Indian consignments of fresh frozen black tiger shrimps as it contained nitrofuran and furazolidone, while Italy rejected one Indian consignment of deep frozen whole cuttle fish as it contained cadmium and Belgium rejected another Indian consignment of squid as it contained cadmium.

Speaking to FE, Vijay Sardana, executive director, Centre for International Trade in Agriculture and Agro-based Industries (CITA), said that already worldwide there is an excess capacity in marine aquaculture and the major exporting countries have the ability to export more than the needs of the importing countries. India, therefore, should be very careful in maintaining its export credibility as per the hygienic conditions of the food is concerned.

There is an urgent need to develop a SPS standard in the country for implementation at the earliest.

He said at the same time India should see that its consignments are not rejected on flimsy grounds and the SPS measures in the importing countries are not used with the intention of stopping exports from India. He said EU has already decided to reduce dioxcine content in food by 25 per cent. The marine industry in the country should wake up to this reality and see that marine products do not contain high levels of dioxcine. The US has also decided to implement its Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 and this law will have an impact on the quality of food products to be imported by that country, he said.

Mr Sardana also called for measures to check the pollution of water bodies which are often used for culture of fish. He alleged that most of the water bodies in the country are contaminated by discharge of effluent by industries and dumping of municipal wastes.

Mr Kishore Wankhade and Mr Ravi Agarwal of Toxic Links said that their organisation has recently conducted a study which documents contamination of water bodies in the country by mercury. Mercury and its compound bioaccumulate in the food chain including fish and can cause severe neurological, physical problems including kidney disorders. Pregnant mothers and children can be more vulnerable to these physical and neurological disorders caused by presence of mercury.