EU stops mandatory test of Bangladeshi frozen fish

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EU stops mandatory test of Bangladeshi frozen fish
Star Business Report

Bangladesh has got rid of a mandatory EU screening for exporting frozen fish after the country made progress in its residue monitoring system.

Earlier the European Union used to test 20 percent of frozen fish consignments from Bangladesh to keep its exporters under a continuous pressure to improve compliance.

The decision was posted in the official journal of the European Union on November 16.

The lifting of the restriction, which was slapped two years ago, will cut delays in export and reduce costs.

“It will bring about changes in the negative mindset about our products abroad and increase confidence about our laboratory capability,” said Fisheries and Livestock Minister Abdul Latif Biswas at the seminar. “Demands for our fisheries will rise,” he said.

The Department of Fisheries, and EU-United Nations Industrial Development Organisation co-organised the event at CIRDAP auditorium in Dhaka, focusing on emerging food safety issues and compliance.

The EU relaxed its rule after an audit team of the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission visited Bangladesh in March-April.

“The results of that inspection confirmed considerable improvements in that third country, particularly in the implementation of analytical methods used for residue monitoring and traceability of animals and products,” said Official Journal of the European Union.

“Based on the results of that inspection, it appears unnecessary that Member States continue to ensure additional sampling and analytical tests on consignments of crustaceans imported from Bangladesh,” it said.

At the programme, participants said there has been progress in various areas of fisheries sector to ensure production and processing of safe shrimp over the past several years.

With registration of 190,000 shrimp farms, implementation of traceability has become easier. The number of laboratories and testing machines has increased. At the same time, the government has also framed laws on fish feed and hatcheries.

“But we have to continue our efforts to sustain our achievement,” said the minister, stressing the need for steps to control the use of illegal chemicals, pesticides and feeds, stop anti-biotic contamination, and poor processing at factories.

The sector that employs more than 10 lakh people fetched $625 million in exports in fiscal 2010-11.

During July-October export earnings rose 21 percent to $208 million, according to Export Promotion Bureau data.

S Humayun Kabir, director of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association, termed the EU waiver a great achievement.

He said the association has set a target of $1.5 billion from export of shrimp and fisheries by 2015.

Kabir, however, feared damage of cultured shrimp due to virus infection that causes millions of dollars in losses, putting many farmers in debt.

“The future sustainability depends on the future of disease management,” he said.

Fisheries Secretary Ujjwal Bikash Dutta, and Counsellor and Head of Cooperation of EC delegation to Bangladesh Milko Van Gool also spoke.

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