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Indian seafood exports hit record 97,179 tons worth some $394 million.

Indian Seafood Exports Hit Record 97,179 Tons Worth Some $394 Million Representing four percent of nation's hard currency earnings, less than half of 4.5 million ton annual resource potential is currently being tapped.

After several years in the doldrums, the Indian seafood export industry really came to life last year, with tonnage up 13.2% to 97,179, and value up 15.3% to $394 million -- both records.

Shrimp still accounted for most of the total, 55,736 tons and $315.8 million, and Japan was still the largest importer of Indian seafood (mostly shrimp) at 38,738 tons and $242 million.

Frozen fish was second at 14,904 tons and $16.5 million, frozen cuttlefish and fillets third at 9,195 tons and $16.5 million, and frozen squid fourth in tonnage at 7,621 but third in value at $10.1 million.

The United States was second in imports in both tonnage and value at 14,444 and $55.8 million. Spain was third in tonnage at 6,969, but only fifth in value at $11.6 million, whereas the United Kingdom was third in value at $25.3 million but only fifth in volume at 5,554 tons -- all due to different import mixes.

Seafood accounts for four percent of India's export earnings, according to T.K.A. Nair, chairman of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), but the potential is even greater. The annual resource potential of the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is 4.5 million tons, he said, but the catch is only 1.7 million.

India has 273 conventional freezing plants, with a total capacity of 2,094 tons a day, and nine IQF plants with a total capacity of 30 tons a day. There are 293 cold stores (presumably mostly associated with freezing plants), with a total capacity of 37,383 tons. Besides frozen production and storage facilities, there are 27 canneries, 29 fish meal plants and 202 dried fish storehouses.

Shrimp landings last year totaled 214,000 tons, yielding some 55,000 tons of processed product weight. While almost all is exported, a domestic market exists for finfish such as tuna, sardines and perch, which are abundant in the EEZ. Most fishing is still artisanal involving small primitive vessels -- which explains the government's drive for joint ventures involving modern craft and on-shore facilities.

Meanwhile, aquaculture ventures are also being encouraged by both central and state governments. Of the estimated 1.4 million hectares of brackish water suitable for shrimp and prawn culture, only about 51,000 are actually being farmed in the traditional manner. Application of modern aquaculture technology could thus multiply output many times, and since shrimp is the top-value seafood export product, bring in a lot more foreign exchange, too. Other government programs already in place subsidize insulated fish boxes, refrigerated trucks and other equipment and facilities to ensure production quality standards.

PHOTO : Shrimp exports from India earned the country over $316 million in 1987.

PHOTO : Rock lobsters are looming larger in Indian exports, with some 1,863 tons of frozen tails

PHOTO : sold abroad in 1987.
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Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Jan 1, 1989
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