Malaysia to Strengthen Seafood Production Standards
After Malaysia voluntarily canceled seafood exports to the European Union last month, Malaysian Agriculture Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed announced this week that his department would strengthen seafood production standards to avoid a similar setback in the future.
Two committees have been formed to help Malaysia's seafood industry recover. One committee examines technical details and finds solutions to help seafood producers comply with EU standards. The other is in charge of financial assistance for the industry. Malaysia's annual seafood exports to the EU are valued at more than $461 million.
After halting seafood exports to the EU, Malaysia sent a delegation to Brussels to meet with the EU Food and Veterinary Office to obtain information on EU standards. Improving sanitary conditions in fishing ports, vessels and related facilities ranked among the top priorities.
Earlier this month, Malaysian International Tuna Port Sdn Bhd (MITP), the concession-holder of Penang Island's Batu Maung Fisheries Complex, sent its delegate to Spain and Portugal to pick up a few insiders' tips to comply with EU standards.
Datuk Mohamed is confident that the seafood industry will be ready for a follow-up inspection leading to re-entry into the EU market in a few months. Similarly, Datuk Annuar Zaini Binyamin, CEO of MITP, reported that it would take at least three months to get Malaysia's seafood producers up to code.