THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : The burden of costs involved in export certification of marine products usually alienates medium and small-scale aquaculturists from venturing into the overseas market. But now bringing cheers to them, the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is planning to come out with its own certification scheme for hatcheries.
The certification that is based on the Food Agriculture Organization’s guidelines on responsible aquaculture and Good Aquaculture Practices will also ensure the production and supply of healthy, disease-free and antibiotic- free seeds. “When it comes to international market, traceability of products is compulsory. At present the certification of marine products meant for export is being carried out by some US-based agencies. As it is expensive, only a few hatcheries have this certification,” said B Sreekumar, secretary, MPEDA.
“As the certification is a costly affair, in which one has to pay around `35 lakh, medium and small-scale aquaculturists are often left behind. It is in this backdrop that the MPEDA decided to frame a certification scheme of its own,” he said. According to him, the certification scheme that is open to all hatcheries engaged in seed production of export-oriented species will initially be applicable only to shrimp hatcheries.
“We had prepared the draft of the certification scheme. It has been handed over to various stakeholders for their opinion. Based on their suggestions, it will be modified. By May last week or June first week we could officially launch it,” added Sreekumar. At the same time, MPEDA authorities said the certification scheme has been formulated after considering the existing standards being followed by US-based agencies.
“The draft we prepared has been sent for the opinion of foreign companies, importers and certification agencies. Organisations like INFOFISH- Intergovernmental Organization for Marketing Information and Technical Advisory Services for Fishery Products in the Asian and Pacific Region- has also been provided with a copy of the same. The aim of the exercise is to promote it,” said an MPEDA official.
Meanwhile, as per the draft, for gaining acceptability in the global market-freeing aquaculture from the use of antibiotics and other pharmacologically active substances is necessitated and for that farmers will have to be educated and an audit system will have to be introduced to monitor and evaluate the same.
It is learnt that once the certification is introduced, the MPEDA will promote it by introducing the same in international fairs. Within the next two or three years, the MPEDA eyes to gain acceptability for its certification in the global market.