August 12, 2010

Brazil to review Vietnam's pangasius imports


Brazil's Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture (MPA) will begin a risk assessment to analyse Vietnam's pangasius imports after a request from local producers to suspend any licensing for catfish shipment from Vietnam due to certain health allegations.


"We will make an analysis according to the criteria established by the World Organisation for Animal Health," said Eloy de Sousa, the secretary of Monitoring and Control for the MPA.


The chairman for the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Council (Conepe), Fernando Ferreira, said the foreign products sold in Brazil contain an antibiotic that increases water retention in the flesh of the fish.


"These fish have a high risk of contamination," said Ferreira.


The available data indicates that during the first half of 2010, 3,300 tonnes of pangasius were imported for a total of US$6.6 million.


Brazilian producers have not only wanted imports of Vietnamese pangasius to be tested for possible contamination, but have also complained that the price is too far below that of similar domestic products, such as the Amazonian mapara and tilapia.


Each kilogramme of pangasius costs about US$2, while the Brazilian version is worth US$4.


Conepe leaders stressed that this situation hinders competition in the domestic market and negatively affects producers, workers and the entire production chain.


The sector said that the large difference in prices has caused the dismissal of more than 3,000 workers in the fishing industry in Santa Catarina, as well as around 2,000 employees in the region north of the country.


The Brazilian aquaculture industry will benefit from the import suspension and may achieve better results in aquaculture initiatives that aim to increase national fish production, Ferreira said.

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