The Export Inspection Council (EIC), under the ministry of commerce, has made it mandatory that all vessels supplying fish for export should register with it.
According to the executive instructions for approval and monitoring of fish and fishery products for export, published recently, only registered vessels can supply fish for export and exporters should purchase raw materials from EIC-approved vessels only. The new set of instructions had came into effect from March 15.
The new orders would have a serious impact on the seafood export sector and according to exporters, these have already started coming to a halt. Under the present system, vessels are registered under the fishery departments of the states concerned.
|CONDITIONS FOR REGISTRATION
According to instructions by the Export Inspection Council, the following conditions are mandatory for vessels used for fishing for export purposes:
|Special requirements for vessels:
Hygienic practices to be followed:
The vessels can register under the Marine Products Export Development Authority (Mpeda) for getting subsidy and government aid, but this is not mandatory. There are more than 60,000 vessels engaged in fishing in the major maritime states of the country.
Anwar Hashim, vice-chairman, Mpeda, and former president of the Seafood Exporters Association of India, said, “Exporters are planning to stop purchase of fish if the registration is compulsory. There is no other way till the issue is settled. There is confusion over the registration process and power to a number of regulatory bodies creates serious problems for the industry.” He added enough time should be given to implement these instructions, else the sector would slide into deep crisis.
Requirements for approval of fishing vessels are not easy to meet and a lot of facilities are newly implemented in most vessels, said Jossy, a boat owner. According to him, most of the requirements are not practical.
Due to cost escalation, the fishing industry is in deep crisis now and the catch is also limited. If exports comes to a halt, the sector will incur huge losses as the price of fish depends mainly on the demand from export units, said Kochi-based boat owners.
Jossy said severe labour shortage, increase in wages and price of diesel are other serious issues. “The mandatory requirement of registration with EIC and the pre-conditions for registration will add to our woes. Though these measures are for enhancing the quality of Indian seafood items, these seem impractical to an ailing sector like ours,” he added.