EU seafood exports from Pakistan to resume soon

ISLAMABAD: The Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) in consultation with a United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s (UNIDO) consultant will be submitting a report on Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) of processing plants by December 31, 2011 to the European Union (EU) to resume the fisheries exports. It is hoped that fisheries exports will be resumed soon.

According to a written reply of Ministry of Commerce submitted to the National Assembly on Thursday EU had delisted Pakistani fisheries establishments exporting fish and seafood products to EU in 2007 due to their failure to meet EU’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards. As a result presently Pakistan is not exporting fish and other seafood products to the EU. The government of Pakistan has undertaken many steps to overcome the deficiencies in the fisheries establishments.

However, the EU Food and Veterinary (FVO) experts have not been able to visit Pakistan due to security concerns.

The process to improve fishery supply chain started to make the exporting companies comply with international and European standards. The following steps were taken; modernisation of laboratory services of MFD and MFD Microbiology and Chemical Labs have been accredited.

Improvement of fishing vessels/hygiene practices, improvement of landing/auction sites, improvement of fish processing plants, strengthening of fishery products production chain supervision and harmonisation of standards. More than two hundred fishermen’s boats have been modified according to EU standards.

It is important to highlight here that in 2006 before the delisting of Pakistani companies from exporting fish to Europe; Pakistan exports of fish to ‘Europe amounted to $29.77 million, which was 17.75 percent of Pakistan’s total export of fish to the world. The delisting of Pakistani companies has thus resulted in considerable loss to the fisheries sector in Pakistan. An early inspection by team of FVO is therefore crucial for regaining its lost share.

It has been learnt through our mission in Brussels that there was no realistic chance of FVO inspectors visiting Pakistan in the near future due to security concerns, however exports could be resumed on trial basis subject to fulfilment of required criterion and meeting of EU SPS, standards by fisheries establishments. It was proposed that the government of Pakistan will identify a few establishments, which meet the required criterion and then exports from those establishments will resume on trial basis initially and gradually more establishments may also start to export subject to their readiness to meet EU SPS standards. The Ministry of Commerce has been coordinating with all the relevant stakeholders including MFD and provincial government of Sindh for early preparation of report regarding readiness of fisheries establishments ready for resumption of exports to EU. MFD has recently communicated to the authorities in Europe through Brussels economic minister readiness of two establishments for resumption of fisheries exports to EU.

The EU has expressed satisfaction with most of the steps taken by the government of Pakistan. However, with regard to HACCP of processing plants EU has now asked for an inspection report. MFD in consultation with a UNIDO consultant will be submitting this report by December 31, 2011 to the EU. It is hoped that fisheries exports will be soon resumed.

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