By: Anwar Khan
Export of disease-plagued aquaculture shrimps has drawn a ban from Saudi Arabia, putting the country’s scant seafood trade close to a global embargo, fisheries sources said on Thursday.
White spot disease that developed in the globally-appealing white-leg shrimp species, which is still locally being bred, was detected after the country exported some three tons of its first crops, they said.
Report of World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on detection of the disease prompted the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) to place a ban on shrimp import from Pakistan as precaution, according the sources.
“The SFDA has notified to its inspection authorities for imported food to stop inspection of fresh, chilled or frozen shrimp consignments from Islamic Republic of Pakistan until stabilisation of health conditions,” a letter of Saudi Embassy in Islamabad to Foreign Affairs Ministry says.
However, Marine Fisheries Department – Federal Ports and Shipping Ministry seeks help from the Commerce Ministry to help Pakistan get delisted from the OIE’s index of countries which shrimps had been detected with the white spot diseases.
It called the OIE report on Pakistani shrimp disease ‘misunderstanding”. It said that the country was primarily producing wild marine shrimps and ruled out production of the aquaculture shrimps in Pakistan. “White spot disease only occurs in cultured shrimp as the white spot virus does not infect wild caught shrimp,” it said.
According to the MFD, Pakistan’s exported 189 metric tons of shrimp to Saudi Arabia worth $2.175 million in 2015.
The total seafood export was 2,016 metric tons valuing $7.494 million. The MFD seems worried on the blanket ban on the country’s shrimp import by Saudi Arabia and termed it a ‘serious’ blow to Pakistan seafood export earnings.
The ban by Saudi Arabia excludes “Headless and peeled products [except the remains of shrimp including its tail], provided that physical and laboratory examination of all consignments is performed.
“Processed products ready for direct human consumption] like spiced ready for grilling, fraying or by any method of cooking. And, heat treated products to ensure eradication of viruses as mentioned in the Article 3, 6, 9 of Aquatic Animal Health Code recommended by the World Organisation for Animal Health”.
Some 67 metric tons of aquaculture shrimp has been exported so far to the world markets including the disease-contaminated consignment. The shrimp fetched only $4 a unit that is too low for the commodity, according to the sources, saying that the disease-hit consignments could not earn more than that.
Fisheries experts called the disease detection a ‘threat’ to the country’s seafood export sector. They said that the production of aquaculture shrimp should not be permitted unless there was a monitoring facility in place to examine white spot disease before exporting the species. They said that the farmed shrimp export with disease was an injudicious act.
Pakistan will have to fight a long and stringent battle to get its shrimp trade delisted from the OIE index, they said, fearing that more countries would follow Saudi Arabia to place cautionary restriction on seafood import from Pakistan.
They said that the aquaculture shrimp production had proved a failure that widely implicated the marine seafood export sector. They said that a fresh crop of aquaculture shrimp species was also set for cultivation on April 23, 2016, despite the disease emergence and a lack of laboratory to detect the specific disease in the country.
Source: Business Recorder