A notification last week from China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) gave an approval to Indian seafood exporters looking to tap the country’s US$5.5bn seafood market.
Exports to China from India and another 30-odd countries were suspended after the quarantine authority introduced new, stricter regulations that made it harder for exporters to tap the market.
One of the major requirements of these new regulations was that consignments from seafood exporting countries be accompanied with inspection certificates. These certificates however had to adhere to the quarantine authority’s norms and were to be approved by it.
These regulations were introduced after repeated safety scandals in the country and concerns regarding seafood from the Western Pacific and South China Sea region after the nuclear incident in Fukushima, Japan.
On contacting, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said in a statement that the Chinese market was important for the Indian seafood sector and this approval was welcome.
According to APEDA data, India was a major exporter of seafood to the fast-growing China market, sending US$149mn worth of seafood to its northern neighbor in 2011. This was however significantly lower than the 2011 figure of US$156 million in 2010, much before the new AQSIQ regulations came into force.
But exports were booming elsewhere for India because of the Fukushima scares in South East Asia and the rising dollar. Data from the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying & Fisheries (DADF), showed marine product exports are estimated to have reached US$3.42bn, up 20% from the year before. 201112. .
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, under which the department functions, had said earlier that the rise in export earnings was due to the good demand from South East Asian countries.
“There have been concerns with the fisheries sector in South East Asia after Fukushima. It is not hard to see that importers in target markets have perhaps altered their balance of sources,” he said.
According to the DADF, India's marine exports include black tiger shrimp, fresh water prawn shrimp, frozen versatile fish, frozen skipjack and frozen squid.
The marine and fish industry in India will growth at annual rate of 7% over the next four years to 2015, according to a study by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).
The industry is currently worth US$10.4bn, with the processed seafood segment accounting for US$1.6bn, or about 15%. Fish production in India is likely to cross 12m tonnes by 2015 from the current level of about 9.3m tonnes, of which captured fish accounts for about 65%, while aquaculture accounts for 30%.