EU unlikely to lift ban on seafood imports from Pakistan | Pakistan Today

EU unlikely to lift ban on seafood imports from Pakistan

KARACHI: The European Union (EU) is unlikely to lift a ban on the import of seafood products from Pakistan since the Sindh government and the Karachi Fish Harbour authorities are seemingly reluctant to comply with the EU’s instructions, Pakistan Today learnt on Friday.
The EU had barred seafood imports from Pakistan in April 2007, an action taken following EU’s inspectors visit to Pakistan. The inspectors had found the industry’s food processing to be substandard, causing Pakistan to suffer losses of at least $100 million.
The EU had also raised complaints against fishing vessels, auction halls and processing units, but none of these issues have been hitherto addressed by the fishermen community. A seafood exporter stated that the EU had also excluded Pakistan from its inspection list of third world countries for this year, which apparently made the ban permanent.
He stated that the government was yet respond to EU’s pre-mission questionnaire, which is a pre-requisite to invite the union’s inspectors for every country.
The EU, during pre-ban visits to Pakistan, had recurrently urged the government to ensure its global standards of seafood traceability and cold chain, but the government acted apathetically.
Sources lamented that the EU had not included Pakistan in its 2009 program for visiting; however, if the government forwarded its action plan to the union, the team might have visited in 2010. Sources further stated that the poor law and order situation in the country had compelled the EU inspectors to cancel their visit earlier this year.
If Pakistan resumes its seafood export with the EU now, it is expected to share around 26 percent of the country’s total seafood exports. Pakistan had suffered about six months of a de-facto ban in 2004-05 and could hardly export around $28.695 million of seafood.
Sources said that the Sindh government had incurred Rs 568.855 million on rehabilitation and renovation of the Karachi Fish Harbour to remove EU’s objections; however, no improvements have been observed. Following completion of rehabilitation works at the harbour, the provincial government had appointed Livestock and Fisheries Section Chief Shahabuddin Memon for proper inspection of the work.
However, the report submitted by inspection officers did not contain any positive remarks. “The improvement of hygienic, physical and environmental conditions at the Karachi Fish Harbour, due to which the EU has banned export, was exceedingly poor.
It was observed that Rs 1.059 million have been spent on janitorial services, but the seawater at the harbour was not any better than the drainage water, as a lot of debris was floating on surface of the water,” said a monitoring report, which was exclusively made available to Pakistan Today.
“The channel can never be cleaned up unless a proper sewerage system is constructed and made operational. Similarly, Rs 1.261 million have been spent on security services, but there seems to be no improvement,” the report added.
“The physical progress was not satisfactory, like upgrading of 69 large boats against the target of 200 and six small boats against the target of 100 have been achieved during the last three years. The number of upgraded boats was confirmed by the Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) that is responsible for technical verification of modified boats under the project,” the report said.
“The efficiency of the MFD can be gauged from the health certificates and licences issued to 28 fish processing factories at the harbour under the Pakistan Quality Control Act, but currently, these processing factories are the primary sources of seawater pollution, killing fish due to poisonous particles in drainage,” the report stated.
The officer in his report also recommended that visit of the EU team might be arranged after taking effective measures for improvement of hygienic, physical and environmental conditions at the harbour.



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