Kochi: The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), a government trade promotion body, will set up inspection offices in 56 fishing harbours nationwide, preparing at the last minute to enforce a government order that sought to meet European Union (EU) requirements.
The Union government had last week authorized the MPEDA to issue a so-called catch certificate, which is mandatory beginning January for all seafood exported to the EU.
The certificate will provide details of the vessel used for fishing, the name of the captain and the date, quantity and place from where the fish was caught, among other details.
The EU is the largest market for Indian marine products with a 32% share of India’s Rs4,151 crore worth of seafood exports between April and September. In September 2008, it made it mandatory for all exporters to the EU to supply a catch certificate, or face a ban beginning 2010.
J. Ramesh, MPEDA secretary, said there had been no notification yet from the EU accepting the new arrangement, and admitted a delay in setting up systems to inspect the export material.
The issue had been a cause of concern among exporters who feared a ban. MPEDA and the Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) had taken up the matter with the government, leading to last week’s order.
The EU measure is aimed at regulating fishing for sustainable practices.
“Though we have reservations about the EU regulation, which can hamper Indian exports, with the support of SEAI we are introducing satellite mapping, strict quality measures, etc. that will help traceability of the material as also check any issue of quality,” said Leena Nair, chairperson of MPEDA.
Anwar Hashim, national president of SEAI, said the order had come as a relief to exporters, but blamed the authorities for the delay.
“There has been untimely delay from the part of the authorities since they were aware of this regulation for more than a year and could have acted fast and even got the EU notification accepting MPEDA as the inspecting agency by now,” he added.