Saturday, March 31, 2007

Re: [pakeditor] EU bans fish imports from Pakistan ....

I am of mixed feelings on this issue. As the loss of the EU seafood market is a major blow to Pakistan's economy. However, from an environmental and social prospective this can be seen as an opportunity. An opportunity to reexamine the fisheries and seafood export policies and slow down the industry - thus allowing the local marine wildlife an opportunity to play catchup.

As a result of indiscriminate fishing and trawling and a lack of government regulations the fish population along the coastline has been severely depleted. Thus, harming the marine wildlife and natural ecosystem. That is an ecosystems which local fishermen have been part of for centuries.

It wasn't too long ago, that is some 20 years back when there was an abundance of fish along the Karachi coastline. I have on numerous occasions been witness to boats arriving at the French Beach (Bulehjo) laden with unimaginable amounts of fish, in all shapes and sizes. You had "surmai" that that was longer than your arms length. All this was caught along the Makran Coastline (From Karachi to Gadiyani).

Other than large Surmai fish, you had unimaginable schools of parrot fish and groupers. Grouper is a rock fish once found in abundance right on the shore - now you talk to fishermen and local scuba divers they say the coastline is like a barren waste land. The the marine life is virtually non existent.

This devastation is primarily due to foreign trawlers that come into Pakistani waters and literally scrape the sea floor, lifting up everything that comes in the way of their gigantic industry grade nets.

As a result an ancient way of life, where man and nature once lived in harmony is fast disappearing. No thanks to the local, provincial and federal authorities.


[Also see All-Things-Pakistan,]

Mohammad Aslam <> wrote:
EU bans fish imports from Pakistan
Official verdict reaches MINFAL; govt fails to improve standards despite warnings issued in 2005

By Imran Ayub

KARACHI: The government has finally received a verdict from the European Union, which informed Pakistani fishery authorities about de-listing of all the processing factories on quality grounds, effectively putting a ban on more than $80 million worth of exports.

The fisheries sources confirmed the initial letter of the EU, which asked Pakistani authorities to stop consignments from the country to the 27-nation bloc, as they would not be accepted after April 12.

"We have informed Ambassador Saeed Khalid, during the meeting on February 23, 2007 that the Commission and the member states have agreed in the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Food Chain and Animal Health on February 21, 2007 to proceed with a notification of the list of Pakistani fishery establishments in order to de-list all the 11 establishments actually in the Pakistani fishery," said a letter from the EU's Food and Veterinary Office to the federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL).

"Therefore, no consignments of fishery products will be accepted to enter into the EU after April 12, 2007."

An official at the MINFAL said the ministry had approached the EU for clear words on Pakistani fishery quality after a number of exporters received the EU's comments, which suggested that no decision had been taken so far.

"So in a prompt response, the EU faxed a letter to the MINFAL office in Islamabad, which suggests no Pakistani seafood consignments after April 12," said the official.

He said with the fresh feedback, all the 11 seafood-processing units had been de-listed, which were earlier certified by the EU.

A three-member team of the EU's FVO visited Karachi fish harbour in January 2007 to check fisheries' facilities and quality of seafood being exported to its member countries. This trip was the second in two years after 2005.

In February 2005, the EU team wrapped up its visit on warnings that Pakistani authorities should maintain seafood quality as per the set standards otherwise they would lose their largest seafood export market.

But it appears nothing has changed in the time between, as irresponsible attitude and least interest of the institutions concerned made the country to pay the price second time in two years.

"The EU is the largest single market of the Pakistani," said Sardar Hanif Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Seafood Industry Association (PSIA). "It would definitely hit almost half of the exports from the country and ultimately affect target negatively by the end of current financial year." The EU decision sent ripples right from export bodies to the government institutions but poor fishermen appear to be main loser of the situation.

"It is really very critical situation I believe," said Ahmed Zameer Advocate, Director Vigilance at Fishermen Co-operative Society - a Sindh-represented body, which looks after fisheries operations.

He said the federal government was responsible to maintain quality standards required by the EU. The federal institution failure would cause serious set back to the exchequer and endanger employment of hundreds of fishermen.

The State Bank of Pakistan in its report had informed that seafood exports were at $160 million by June 2006 up from $138.94 million exported during 2004-05, as the EU countries remained the largest buyers of the Pakistani products with more than 50 per cent share in total shipments.
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