Saudi Arabia has banned shrimp imports from Pakistan as a precautionary measure after detecting white spot disease in crustaceans exported from the country, according to Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA).
The measure is based on a report of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), which included Pakistan in the index of countries with shrimp affected by the disease.
“The Saudi Food and Drug Authority has notified to its inspection authorities for imported food to stop inspection of fresh, chilled or frozen shrimp consignments from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan until stabilization of health conditions,” a letter of Saudi Embassy in Islamabad to Foreign Affairs Ministry says.
However, the Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) – Federal Ports and Shipping Ministry – called the OIE report on Pakistani shrimp disease ‘a misunderstanding”, considering that the country was primarily producing wild marine shrimp and not the farmed variety. MFD is seeking help from the Commerce Ministry to help Pakistan get delisted from the OIE’s index of countries which shrimps had been detected with the white spot diseases.
“White spot disease only occurs in cultured shrimp as the white spot virus does not infect wild caught shrimp,” sources from the Department commented.
“It seems that this product found its way into Saudi Arabia without necessary checks and balance” point out Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association chairman Muslim Mohamedi in a letter to Marine Fisheries Department at Ministry of Ports and Shipping.
The MFD seems worried on the blanket ban on the country’s shrimp import by Saudi Arabia and termed it a ‘serious’ blow to Pakistan seafood export earnings.
Pakistan exported about 2,016 tonnes of seafood (valued at $7.494 million) to Saudi Arabia, including 189 tonnes of shrimp ($2.175m) in 2015.
The country’s overall annual fish and fish preparations’ exports stand at around 140,000 tonnes, fetching around $350m. The share of shrimp exports is around 12,000 to 14,000 tonnes a year.
Fisheries experts called the disease detection a ‘threat’ to the country’s seafood export sector. They said that the production of aquaculture shrimp should not be permitted unless there was a monitoring facility in place to examine white spot disease before exporting the species. They said that the farmed shrimp export with disease was an injudicious act.
Courtesy: Dawn, Business Recorder, FIS