Karachi: Lifting of ban on Pakistan seafood export to European Union EU will enhance bilateral trade ties and raise livelihood of fishermen and fishing industry workers.
“Thanks to EU for lifting the ban and helping Pakistan for exporting seafood to it. The lifting of ban has brightened the image of Pakistan which will now be able to generate more revenue and provide livelihood to more workers and fishermen related fishing industry,” said Mr Haroon Ali Rizvi, Director, Fisheries Department Marine, Government of Sindh while talking to this scribe at his office in Karachi. He said that Pakistan government had modified boats and ended their unhygienic condition in order to provide quality and standard seafood to EU.
“Cleanliness of boats and up-gradation of storage systems will also ensure quality seafood to the people of Pakistan. With lifting of ban, Pakistan’s other exports will also get best image across the world, Rizvi observed.
“Sindh government alone spent Rs250 million on modification of 500 boats as per EU standards while overall 800 small and big boats have yet been modified to ensure seafood quality,” says Mr Sagheer Ahmed, Pubic Relations Officer, Karachi Fisheries Harbour Authority, Government of Sindh while briefing this scribe at his office in Karachi.
“EU helped Pakistan in upgrading fish auction halls in Karachi. The ban, which was imposed in April 2007, was the result of EU delegation inspection in which they detected deficiencies in seafood, including the traceability and hygiene at various stages of the industrial process.
He said that initially, EU had lifted the ban on two companies – AG Fisheries and Akhlaq Enterprises – after they met EU standards for seafood export. “Efforts are underway to modify more boats and get nine more fish exporting companies re-listed. We are optimistic that EU will soon allow other companies to export seafood,” Sagheer said.
“To facilitate fishermen, related fishing industry and other stakeholders to meet increasingly competitive and ever changing business environment, the government of Sindh had taken initiative to upgrade Karachi Fish Harbour through an Annual Development Programme scheme namely Rehabilitation & Renovation of Karachi Fish Harbour at the cost of Rs555.951 million” Sagheer said.
He said the achievement made so far is modification of large and small boats with fibre glass lining in fish hold and on deck, hatch opening, provision of addition hatch, protection from oil and grease with fibre glass lining, installation of awning, overhead tank and wash basin etc. The up-gradation was completed as per international standards, he said.
He told that crew of boats was trained for proper handling of marine food, while Plastic fish crates, baskets, insulated plastic containers, stainless steel hydraulic hand pallet trucks, on-board flake ice plants, fork lift trucks and plastic pallets were provided to facilitate landing and auction in the market. Auction halls K-1 and K-2 were also renovated.
Karachi Fish Harbour Authority KFHA has revitalized its working strategy with professional approach based on fisheries management, quality development and safe food to meet EU standard, Sagheer added.
Mr Mohammad Ali Shah, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF, a non-government organization, said that lifting of EU ban on Pakistan seafood would boost trade relations between the two side and enhance seafood export. “There is need to upgrade fish storage system and facilitate fishermen community in Sindh.
EU ban lifting is a good omen. However, Pakistan fishing community faces problems due to arrest of fishermen by India,” he said. India and Pakistan need to resolve this lingering issue affecting fishermen and fishing business, Shah asserted.
Yousuf, a local fisherman, told at the Karachi Fisheries Harbour Authority that EU decision to lift ban would boost their livelihood, ensure cleanliness of boats and storage system, and provide quality seafood not only to foreign countries but also to Pakistani nationals. EU seafood standards are widely hailed across the world and we should learn from it. It would be good omen that EU further help in modification of boats and expand seafood import, he concluded.
A top official in Sindh Fisheries Department said that EU has made good decision in lifting ban. Now no other country could blackmail us in fishing business as we have met seafood export standards of EU, which is also helping us in ensuring safe and quality seafood export.
He said that in 2011-12, 331 million US dollars seafood export was carried out by Pakistan to other countries, except EU. He hoped that with EU support, we would further raise the export. He informed that over 600,000 people, including fishermen, are directly or indirectly involved in fish industry business in Pakistan.
It may be noted that Karachi Fish Harbour Authority is a Sindh government organization which came into existence as a pre-requisite to the grant offered by European Economic Community in May 1984 through the promulgation of KFHA Ordinance 1984. Before EU ban on seafood export, Pakistani fish export to EU was worth 50 million Euros a year.