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Exporters rue peak season loss

Shoma Patnaik | NT

Panaji

A year after the formalin-in-fish controversy erupted in the state, fish exporting units are relieved to have passed through the turbulent period.

Seafood exporters said that the news of formalin-in-fish affected their business adversely and decreased the volume of exports from the
state.

“Exporting units suffered during that period although they had nothing to do with the alleged contamination,” said a Corlim-based exporter. 

He said that unit owners suffered because of the aftereffects of the controversy which lasted for good six months from July 2018 to late December 2018.

 “The industry lost out on the peak months of fish availability during the period,” claimed the exporter. It is estimated that seafood exports from the state declined 14.6 per cent in volume to 50,571 tonne in 2017-18 to 43,199 tonne in 2018-19, as per the Marine Products Exports Development Authority (MPEDA.)

However, according to seafood industry, the controversy did not affect the sentiments of their overseas customers as support was received from the Ministry of Commerce as well as MPEDA. Further the GCCI also appealed for permitting exporting units to carry out their trade without restrictions.

Goa’s seafood exporting industry gets 80 per cent of its fish requirements from other states. The fish is transported from Karnataka, Maharashtra, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh in insulated vehicles. The fish is checked at the suppliers end and also after it arrives at the unit premises, according to the industry. Unit owners claim that they spend couple of lakhs every month just on testing for contamination.

The testing is done in certified labs in the unit premises. Members of the industry added that export markets are strict on quality and each country has its standard tests. The exporting industry in the state comprises about 12-odd units and exports are of shrimps, cuttlefish, squids, dried fish, prawns and also fresh fish.

The formalin-in-fish scare broke out in July 2018 when exporting units take an off-season break. However, unit owners could not resume operations in August 2018 because the government banned entry of outside fish into the state. Subsequently the government asked unit owners to get their fish consignment certified from the state of its origin.

With the state banning fish from outside, fish traders in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala retaliated and refused entry to Goan fish. The controversy is over but it should not return, said an exporter.   

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