The Seafood Exporters Association of India recently met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to express its concerns over increasingly tight competition with China, Thailand and Vietnam. The Association is asking the government to intervene to sustain India's $2 billion seafood industry.
SEAI President Anwar Hashim, pronounced that the country's seafood industry and the 2 million people who are employed by it will be doomed if the Indian government refuses to help.
Hashim explained that the association, during its meeting with Prime Minister Singh, requested that the seafood industry continue to be tax-free. He also requested that fishermen buy fuel tax-free to offset the recent 60 percent price increase. Hashim also asked Singh to promote aquaculture to cultivate Pacific white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) to better compete with China, Thailand and Vietnam.
Vannamei from the three countries has been a cheaper alternative to India's black tiger shrimp. Vannamei production costs are half that of black tigers and therefore vannamei prices are 20 percent lower. India's black tiger shrimp prices have dropped 20 percent.
In the 2006-2007 fiscal year (the country's fiscal year runs April 1 to March 31), India's seafood exports were at an all-time high with US$2.1 billion in sales, weighing 612,641 tons. EU countries purchased a third of India's seafood exports, Japan is second with 16.18 percent and the United States is third with 16.12 percent. Exports to China accounted for 13.83 percent, while Southeast Asia and the Middle East imported 7.37 percent and 4.44 percent of India's seafood, respectively.
During last month's meeting with Sonia Gandhi, India's congress president, Hashim claimed that India's seafood export market might shrink by half. He revised this figure during the meeting with Prime Minister Singh, when Hashim forecasted seafood exports to decline 25 percent in volume and 20 percent in value the 2007-2008 fiscal year.