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    US ban hits Kerala, Karnataka seafood exports

    Synopsis

    Catches from the sea for export are mainly shrimps, squids and cuttle fish.

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    Depleting catches from the sea are another major concern, especially with variations in the weather.
    Continuing US ban on wild shrimps caught by vessels not fitted with turtle excluder device (TED), insufficient rainfall and depleting catches have hit seafood exporters on the west coast of India. While exporters on the east coast are predominantly dependent on farmed shrimp, those on the west coast rely more on sea-caught fish. India annually exports around Rs 45,000 crore worth seafood, majority of which is aquaculture shrimps.

    Catches from the sea for export are mainly shrimps, squids and cuttle fish. The Department of State in the US issued a notification in May last year banning wild caught shrimps from countries that do not comply with fishing practices to protect sea turtles. Subsequently, an expert team from the US visited several coastal states in India to assess the fishing methods. There has been no decision on the ban yet.

    Kerala and Karnataka account for major share of wild caught shrimp export. “We cannot export wild caught shrimps to the US now. We have asked for clarification on the TED issue," said Prema Chandra Bhat, managing director, Mangala Marine Exim, an exporter based in Kerala. Shipment of these shrimps to other countries is fetching lower earnings, pushing exporters into financial difficulties, he said A senior officer of Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) said that except in Odisha, where mass nesting of Olive Ridley turtles take place, most coastal states are free of sea turtles.

    Depleting catches from the sea are another major concern, especially with variations in the weather. “Last year, squid and cuttle fishes catches were lower, resulting in higher prices. We hope catches would be better in the main fishing season beginning next month,’’ said Junaid Nathani, director of Mumbaibased Naik Oceanic Exports. An exporter of surimi, a paste made from fish meat, the firm had to use substitute fish as threadfin bream, typically used to make surimi, was scarce.
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