Cold chain failures prevent EU Pakistan fish exports

Karachi, Pakistan: Pakistan’s fish export industry has lost as much as US$300m worth of exports becuase of poor cold chain management.

The trade in fish to European Union member states was worth US$50.059m, over a quarter of Pakistan’s total trade in fish valued at  $194m in 2005-06 bfore the EU ban was imposed.

An official at the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said local fisheries authorities remain responsible for the European Union’s (EU) continued ban on seafood import from Pakistan.

Mujeeb Ahmed Khan, head of WTO Cell at TDAP, said that the EU had asked Pakistan to sell standard seafood for 10 years before imposing the ban.

He said Pakistan fails to produce standard seafood. The exporters now look at those markets that accept low quality food but get paid lower prices, he said.

The EU de-listed all Pakistani seafood exporters in April 2007 and the ban has remained in place since then. The ban applies to processing plants: out of the 28 processing units, 11 had exported to the EU, now none are listed.

When an EU mission visited the harbour in 2007, it found two main deficiencies: lack of traceability and poor cold chain standards unable to provide 6 degrees Celsius for fresh fish and -12 for frozen fish.

It is estimated that if EU allowed Pakistani seafood, the export could have crossed $300m as kidney shrimp do not fetch good price in other markets.

Export to the EU is a benchmark for other countries. “Even a country like China asks for export registration number for the EU market,” said an official of Marine Fisheries Department.

In absence of the EU market, Pakistan’s seafood export noted significant increase to China, UAE, Thailand, Korea, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia but fisheries officials say the EU market remains important to the country because of stable and high prices.

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