Seafood exporters peeved with MPEDA’s plan to shut testing labs

Seafood exports have expressed displeasure over Marine Products Export Development Authority’s (MPEDA) plan to bring down shutters on two out of three ELISA (Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay) screening laboratories in Odisha.

Exporting to the European Union mandates pre-harvesting testing of aquaculture products. To help seafood exporters get the testing done, three ELISA laboratories were set up at Dhamra, Balasore and Bhubaneswar. Before the produce is harvested seafood exporters used to undertake pre-harvest testing or screening of shrimp or fish to check for the presence of antibiotics residue such as Chloramphenicol and Nitrofuran metabolites.

“Keeping in mind the geographical locations of shrimp farming and farmers, MPEDA had established three pre-harvest testing labs at Dhamra, Balasore and Bhubaneswar in 2011 and 2012. MPEDA’s plan to shut down these labs at Bhubaneswar and Dhamra is anti-export policy”, said G Mohanty, former president, Sea Food Exporters Association of India-Odisha region.

He believes that it will affect the state’s growth plan for the sector.

Seafood exports of Rs 10,000 crore by 2020. This is the target set by the Odisha government. Odisha currently exports 11% seafood to EU countries. As per market wise exports, Odisha stands third after Japan (39 %) and United States (28%).

The Sea Food Exporters Association of India-Odisha region has sent a written request to MPEDA to prevent the closure of the labs which are crucial for farmers in the state.

“Recently, we have written to commerce ministry and MPEDA requesting not to close the labs for the greater cause of the seafood farmers of the state. MPEDA has informed us that they are reconsidering their decision”, said Ajay Dash, president, Sea Food Exporters Association of India- Odisha region.

Dash believes that at least the lab in Bhubaneshwar should remain open as it is pivotal for farmers in the districts of Jagatsingpur, Ganjam and Kendrapada.

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