Pakistan resumed seafood export to the European Union (EU) after hygienic and fisheries handling improved at one of its key facilities at the harbour, officials said on Tuesday. The seafood export was resumed after two months of suspension for poor fisheries handling and hygiene condition at the export-oriented auction halls known as K-I and K-II.
However, at first, the Marine Fisheries Department reopened auction hall – K-I that is dedicated for seafood export to the EU. “Yes, we have reopened the K-I auction hall yesterday [Monday] for the EU export after improved conditions,” Acting Director General, MFD, Israr Ahmed told Business Recorder on Tuesday. An EU official with the Unideo team also visited Karachi Fish Harbour to examine seafood export and landing facilities and found them improved, Managing Director, Karachi Fish Harbor Authority, Muhammad Ramzan Awan told Business Recorder.
Israr Ahmed said that the continuing concerns over the country”s seafood export suspension to the EU had dragged its official to visit at the harbour and examine the facilities and found these improved. He said that the MFD reopened the K-I to resume seafood export to the EU last Monday. “The seafood export to the EU and other countries was suspended to ensure a quality handling at the auction halls,” he said, adding that the export suspension had followed mismanagement of fisheries handling by KFHA and Fishermen Cooperative Society. He said that the MFD had warned the KFHA and FCS to mend their ways and seriously look into the fisheries affair to stop them from deterioration. “It was better to suspend export by ourselves than the EU would do it for another 10 years,” he justified the decision.
Muhammad Ramzan Awan said that the MFD had approved K-I for seafood export to the EU, hoping the K-II would soon follow to resume fisheries trade with rest of the world. “K-I was approved without consulting us,” he showed astonishment.
The fisheries handling in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka is poorer than Pakistan, he said, but blamed the media for ”hype” on grim harbor condition. He termed Pakistan as ”easy” target in the world to punish. MD KFHA advised the authorities to shift big fishing trawlers to Korangi fish harbor to disburden the Karachi fisheries but wanted the government to provide facilities to the farther harbor to accommodate maximum number of vessels and handle greater catch.
“The shifting will also help reduce congestion at the Karachi fish harbor and improve catch handling at the facilities,” he hoped, saying that the FCS was a bigger stumbling block to the shifting of vessel to the nearly abandoned harbor in Korangi part of the metropolis. He linked the poorer fisheries handling and hygienic condition to the higher landing of juvenile fish at the harbor, saying that the government had to focus on bringing down the hunting of undersized marine species. Half of the fish species is wasting with undersized catch, he added.
“It should be a world standard harbor like ones in Europe and not the one look like mosquitoes fish harbor,” Ramzan Awan said, adding that the FCS corruption had been a factor for the harbor under development. “The FCS has not spent on the harbor uplift,” he said. “The KFHA is introducing conservancy charges that will range from Rs 300 to 10,000 just to ensure financial input from the stakeholders using the harbor for their benefits,” he said, adding that the charges would help install trash bins and septic tanks at the seafood processing units at the harbor. Showing concerns, he said that the stakeholders including the factory owners were dumping trash and other filth at the harbor”s navigational channel, which had grown as a major problem for unhygienic conditions. Despite, the major revenues the FCS collects, the spending on harbor development had still been attributed to the KFHA, he asserted.