KOCHI: The Indian seafood sector appears to be well on course to achieve $4.3 billion worth export targeted for the current year, spurred by high demand for cultured shrimps from the US and South East Asia.
The recent US ruling not to impose countervailing duty on Indian shrimps has provided further impetus to the seafood exports which have shown 19% increase in dollar terms for the period up to July. The shortage following the spread of disease early mortality syndrome in the farms of large shrimp producers like Thailand, Vietnam and China has raised the price of shrimps globally fetching good returns for India.
"The prices of shrimps particularly vannamei have jumped by 10 to 15%. Our cultured shrimp production is also on the rise to meet the demand. This is compensating for poor sea catch particularly in the west coast,'' said AJ Tharakan, national president of Seafood Exporters Association of India.
Even with the threat of countervailing duty, the US has been the top buyer of Indian seafood. The US accounted for 31% share of the total marine products exported from India till July. This is almost 10% increase in the share from last year. South East Asia and European Union are the next major buyers.
According to Marine Products Export Development Authority (Mpeda) sources the seafood export during April-July 2013 touched 2.13 lakh tonne valued at Rs 6,200 crore. In dollar terms it reached $1.12 billion. While the quantity was marginally down, the value in rupeeterms showed a 24% jump. High prices of the shrimps and depreciation of rupee helped in boosting exports.
"Seafood export will enter the peak phase from October as the shipments for Christmas and New Year will begin. If the exports continue in the same way then we will be able to meet the ambitious target of $4.3 billion for the current year,'' a senior officer of Mpeda said.
Meanwhile, the aquaculture production is all set to reach a new peak this year. It had reached around 2.5 lakh tonne last year and the farms are expecting the production to touch 3 lakh tonne. "The coastal aquaculture authorities have been trying to impose constraints restricting the expansion of farms. We are taking up the issue with Agriculture Ministry," Tharakan said.