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India Hopeful Japan Will Lift Shrimp Import Ban

10 October 2012

INDIA - The government of India is hopeful that Japan will lift its ban on the import of shrimps from India, said director, Export Inspection Council of India (EICI), S K Saxena.

Japan put restrictions on shrimp imports from India two months ago following higher levels of ethoxyquin, an anti-oxidant and also an ingredient in shrimp feed, than it could allow, reports TimesofIndia.

Saxena, who along with chairperson of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and others recently visited the East Asian island nation, termed the Japanese decision "non-scientific". "We have represented our case to Japan's health authorities and food safety commission and requested them to remove the non-technical barrier," Saxena told the Times Of India.

"For fish, the maximum residue limit (MRL) of ethoxyquin fixed by Japan is one ppm (parts per million). But there is no prescribed limit for shrimps, which means Japan has put the curbs based on default standards," explained Saxena to the newspaper.

"The presence of ethoxyquin in Indian shrimp consignments was found to be 0.1 ppm, which is very low and posed no problem. Hence, the Japanese decision was not backed by any scientific evidence," he said, adding, "The Japan government did not consult us before imposing the restrictions. We have told them that we will be constrained to move the World Trade Organisation (WTO) unless they act fast and remove the barrier."

Industry insiders said presence of ethoxyquin in fish and shrimp was not surprising because it being an anti-oxidant was used in fish meal and shrimp feed. "Shrimp is being exported from India during the last few decades to different countries. We use the same practice and same feed for all countries, but barring Japan no other country has raised any objection. This has forced us to suspect foul play by competing countries," said president, Seafood Exporters Association of India (Odisha chapter) G Mohanty.

Japan's restrictions on shrimp imports has hit Odisha as an estimated 50,000 people are directly or indirectly engaged in shrimp culture in the state, said sector insiders. State fisheries and animal resources development secretary Satyabrata Sahu said he was optimistic that the issue could be resolved. "There is no need to panic. I believe this is a temporary trade obstacle, which could be overcome at the earliest," he added.

TheFishSite News Desk



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