Seafood may not find takers on Covid-19 scare

The Indian seafood industry fears a pile-up of stock thanks to a setback to exports to Covid-19-impacted countries. Shipments to China, Europe and the Far East countries have slowed down and the industry reckons the situation is likely to get better only from the middle of 2020.

“The consignments to China have dropped by 10 to 15 per cent because of congestion in several ports. Shipping lines are charging extra for the delay,” said Jagdish V Fofandi, national president of Seafood Exporters Association of India.

With several countries affected by the virus, export has turned sluggish. “Most of the seafood-consuming countries in the Mediterranean belt including Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and France are suffering. They have asked us to stop sending shipments till further notice,” said Anwar Hashim, MD, Abad Fisheries.

Europe is a large consumer of squid, cuttle fish and octopus besides shrimp, the mainstay of Indian seafood export.

The exporters have sought financial assistance from the Centre to deal with the situation. “We will be penalised for the credit we get if we didn’t ship the goods in a particular time period. We request the government to enhance the time for shipping,” Fofandi said.

The exporters will also face problems in the US, the top market for Indian seafood, as the country has raised the anti-dumping duty (ADD) in the fourth annual review for those who haven’t opted for settlement. “Around 100 exporters may have ADD of around 3.5 per cent while for others the average may work out to 1.5 per cent. This could raise the cost of exports to the US,” Fofandi added. The US has already imposed a ban on shrimps which are not caught by boats fitted with turtle excluder device.

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