Ignatius Pereira

Exporters say that buyers have reported a 50 per cent fall in sale

Shrimp is the largest seafood export to the U.S.

Not a major crisis, says exporters’ association

KOLLAM: The seafood industry in the State has started feeling the pinch of the financial crisis in the United States.

Seafood exporters said that buyers in the United States had reported a 50 per cent fall in the sale of seafood imports, considered a luxury item in that country.

The U.S. buyers had accordingly reduced orders from India. Shrimp is the largest seafood export from India to the U.S. Leading seafood exporter George K. Ninan of the Kochi-based Baby Marine group, told The Hindu that the export sector began feeling the pinch of the crisis since the past three weeks. But things had not gone to a crisis for the sector. According to Sandu Joseph, secretary, Seafood Exporters Association of India, though there was a drop in purchases from the U.S., it was not going to create any crisis for the seafood industry here. This was because the U.S. was not a major buyer from India in terms of both value and quantity. But those among the 69 seafood exporters in the country who depended mainly upon the U.S. could be affected. Mr. Ninan said that only a section of the exporters depended on purchases from the U.S.

Seafood exports to the U.S. had been going down since the past three or four years mainly due to the anti-dumping laws of that country. As a result of this the European Union had emerged as the biggest seafood buyer from India both in terms of quantity and value that stands at 28 per cent and 34 per cent respectively. Quantity-wise, only seven per cent of the seafood exports from India went to the U.S. and in terms value it was 13 per cent of the seafood export earnings, Mr. Joseph said.

He said in order to overcome the loss from the U.S., the seafood industry here had many potential markets that had not been tapped. The reason for this was that stock produced was only sufficient enough to meet the demands from traditional markets. The potential markets that had not been tapped included Russia, South Africa and Australia. He said the Indian seafood export industry was capable enough to remain very healthy even if exports to the U.S. came down to nil if the untapped markets were properly exploited.