Owing to low catch and diminishing demand from developed nations, the seafood industry is in troubled waters.
Though the availability of fish has decreased over the past eight years, the depreciation of Indian rupee has helped exporters gain over 20 percent profit for the past five years.
However, sources in the industry said recession in Europe and United States have dampened its prospects.
The fish products show a diminishing trend and the number of fish items imported has increased, which reflects in the export figure. In 2012-13, the seafood exports will fall short of $3.5 billion achieved last year at least by six to eight per cent. The seafood export from Kerala in the last financial year was 1.46 lakh tonnes and it is worth `2,782.39 crore. Kochi alone contributed 1.43 lakh tonnes. Of the total export from India, around 18 percent is from Kerala. There is a fall of 2.5 per cent in the export volume during April-December season.
Norbert Karikkassery, president, Seafood Exporters Association of India-Kerala region said that low catch and decrease in demand are affecting the seafood sector badly.
“Owing to strikes and holidays, the number of working days have decreased, which had impacted the export market adversely. We feel that the prevailing recession in western countries and the stringent export guidelines are against the interest of the fishermen in the state. But the domestic demand is moving northwards, which is a positive factor for the sector. It is estimated that out of the entire fish catch, 60 per cent is consumed domestically,” he added.
Currently, European Union (EU) continues to be the largest market of seafood export from India with a share of 26.78 percent in dollar terms followed by South East Asia with 16.43 percent.
There was a significant increase in exports to African countries too.
Though the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) officials hope that there will be a decrease in export volume, they feel that the impact will not be more because of cheaper Indian rupee.