Marine exports up 4% in Apr-Dec

Kochi, Jan 21 | Updated: Jan 22 2007, 06:42am hrs
Marine products exports from the county has posted an 8.03% rise in value and 3.81% jump in quantity, during the first nine months of this fiscal. According to provisional figures prepared by Marine Products Export Development Authority (Mpeda), a total 4,10,983 tonne of seafood, worth Rs 6,055.39 crore was exported. During the same period last fiscal, it was 3,95,911 tonne worth Rs 5,605.5 crore .

Growing demand for fish and stagnating wild capture fisheries has also led to a tremendous growth in aquaculture production and trade. Rough estimates put the share of aquaculture in Indian exports to 22% quantity-wise and 55% value-wise. On the global front, as per figures available till 2005, aquaculture production was around 59 million tonne. There has also been a global shift to aquaculture and developing countries contributed 80% to the production and 50% to the value of traded aquatic products.

At the recent Indaqua show, organised by Mpeda, experts felt that while aquaculture held very great trade scope, it was important that each country had to develop strategies based on the indigenous species and should not copy any model. In the case of India, authorities like George Chamberlain of the US and Simon Funge-Smith of FAO in Bangkok felt that India needed to concentrate on the niche market for its black tiger shrimp, according to Mpeda marketing director Thomas Kuruvilla.

He said, in the backdrop of the growing demand for introducing, the white variety of vanammei prevalent in Thailand and Vietnam, experts cautioned against this. This has been a point of debate in the industry with several exporters favouring the introduction of this variety in the farms. However, exporters felt that with high capital cost involved and threat of getting pathogen-free species, there was the threat that it would destroy the aquaculture sector.

Sea-ing IT through

Growing demand for fish and stagnating wild capture fisheries has led to tremendous growth in aquaculture
With high capital cost and threat of getting pathogen-free species, there is a threat that it will destroy the sector

They admitted that along with the growing volumes in production, trade and consumption, there was the concurrent and increasing demand for improved sustainability, social acceptability and human safety from the aquaculture sector. International trading environment had been affected and there was pressure on producers to focus on production methods to address these issues.

Most of the important import market like the US and the EU were largely supported by farmed fishery products with 55% coming to the US from Asia and the EUs imports totaling $ 31 billion in 2005.

There was a growing preference for convenience products. However, it had to be noted that production costs were on the rise and in many cases these were not being compensated by the import markets, especially for traditional block frozen products. In developing countries, the importance of the domestic market had become more vivid, particularly with the rising supermarket and hypermarket culture, especially across Asia.

Besides the traditional items like shrimp, tilapia and catfish, ornamental fish trade had tremendous trade scope internationally. However, like in all other trade, the role of China as fish producer, processor, re-exporter and importer would influence global fishery trade in the days ahead, according to experts who attended the various sessions of the show, said Thomas Kuruvilla.

Banned catfish is big biz
The exotic African catfish (pangasius) which is banned is a source fro big business. Amd industry sources admit that it would run into around 2 lakh tonne in the farms in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The voracious breeder catfish had the capability to wipe out other species and so the ban had been imposed. While officials are silent on the matter, there is the view that either the government strictly enforce the ban or lift it.

They point to the success of Vietnam whose cultivation of catfish has been a major reason for its success in international trade. In case the Government decided to lift the ban, its fillets worth around $ 3 a kg in the global market would mean big business. But with the ban continuing and no enforcement of it, illegal farming and trade in the variety would continue defeating the very cause of the ban, sources said.