July 19, 2011


India's seafood export to China grows



China is rapidly becoming a favoured export area for seafood sector from West Bengal and Gujarat.


The Chinese importers are looking at these states for fishes like cuttle fish and ribbon fish, which are low priced.


"The volume of seafood exports to China from West Bengal, which was almost negligible a few years ago, has now touched 6,000-7,000 tonnes annually. Export enquiries from China are on the rise. Apart from low-priced fishes, China is also importing prawns from West Bengal," said Rajarshi Banerjee, director of Razban Seafood.


Chinese demand is also being witnessed in Gujarat.


In terms of both quantity and value, Gujarat is the largest seafood exporter in India.


"Annually, we export over 1.98 lakh tonnes fish that is valued at INR2,150 crore (US$482.8 million) from the state.


"The export is growing at a steady pace of 20%," said Jagdish Fofandi, secretary (Gujarat), Sea Food Exporters' Association of India.


Gujarat is largely catering to China, which is a big market of cheap ribbon fish and croaker. "Over 1,100-crore worth seafood is being exported to China, followed by EU countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands where pan ready fish accounts for 400-crore business.


"Also, squid and tuna are being exported to Thailand and US, pomfret and seer fish to Malaysia, and black and white pomfret, fish pillet to the Middle East through the Pipavav Port," said Kenny Thomas, chief executive of Jinny Marine Traders, the largest fish product exporter from Veraval in Gujarat.


Gujarat is in an advantageous position as it has the country's largest 1,600-km long coastline and large continental shelf.


Exporters are also looking at new markets like Russia, Vietnam and Africa, where the demand for seafood is on the rise.


Incidentally, in 2010-11 India had exported 1.57 lakh tonnes seafood valued at 1,957.69 crore (US$439.6 million).


Bhaktibhusan Chakroborty of BS Sea Foods said, "Opening up China's domestic market for cheap fish has benefitted us a lot. Volumes are increasing in a rapid manner."


Banerjee said if West Bengal starts cultivation of vannamei shrimps, the seafood export revenue will increase. "For vannamei shrimp cultivation, the state government will have to seek permission from the ministries of commerce and agriculture as vannamei is a foreign species and is a native of South America," he added.


The West Bengal government sources said that new chief minister Mamata Banerjee is keen to bring in vannamei shrimp cultivation in India and the fisheries department has already initiated talks with the seafood industry in the state.

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