Crisis-hit seafood industry seeks relief measures

March 14th, 2008 - 5:37 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

Kochi, March 14 (IANS) Representatives of Indian seafood exporters have urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to provide relief measures to the seafood sector, which is hit by stiff competition from China, Vietnam and Thailand. Office-bearers of Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) met the prime minister and several of his colleagues in New Delhi recently and sought incentives for the seafood sector in the forthcoming export import (EXIM) policy.

If steps were not taken to help the seafood sector, it would be in trouble, president of SEAI Anwar Hashim told IANS.

“The total export of seafood this fiscal would be lower by 25 percent in quantity and 20 percent in value as compared to the previous fiscal. One main reason is severe competition from China, Vietnam and Thailand who offer cheaper products,” Hashim said.

In the 2006-07 fiscal, export of marine products from India set an all time record of 612,641 tonnes valued at Rs.83 billion ($2.1 billion).

Last month, the seafood exporters had given a memorandum highlighting the problems of the sector to Congress president Sonia Gandhi during here visit to Kerala.

The exports have been badly hit on account of a new cheaper shrimp product called peneul vennami, which is available in plenty in China, Thailand and Vietnam. It is similar to white shrimp.

“The cost of production of peneul vennami is 50 percent lower than our Black Tiger shrimp and it is also 20 percent cheaper. This has badly hit us,” said Hashim.

“We have told the government that at no cost they should discontinue the present duty exemption passbook scheme which is a huge blessing for us. We have also sought price exemption for diesel for fishing activities and have requested for alternate employment for the fishermen in the off season,” he said.

Close to two million people in the country depend on the seafood industry for their livelihood.

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