May 21, 2009

Bangladesh halts freshwater shrimp exports to EU

Bangladeshi fish exporters, already hit by the global economic crisis, said Wednesday they had temporarily stopped shipping freshwater shrimps after a harmful drug was found in some shipments.


A top exporter said the voluntary six-month suspension, which will be effective from June 1, was imposed after EU nations returned 50 container loads over the past eight months as tests showed traces of the banned antibiotic nitrofuran.


Kazi Shahnewaz, who heads the Bangladesh Frozen Food Exporters Association (BFFEA), said the association made the decision of not exporting fresh water shrimp to EU for the next six months, but will continue exporting other shrimps to the region.


Shahnewaz said that EU and the US may impose a total ban on all types of shrimps if the drug is not eliminated.


He, however, claimed that that the move would not hurt the sector in the long run.


Exports of salt-water shrimp or bagda will not fall under the suspension move, officials claimed.


After registering a growth of 3.64 percent in the fiscal year 2007-08, exports of frozen foods, mainly shrimp, now face a slack period as the global financial meltdown bites demand.


Export from the sector fell by 13.01 percent to US$355.67 million during July-March of the current fiscal year from US$ 408.87 million a year ago.


Nitrofuran is an antibiotic drug commonly used to treat diseases in food- producing animals.