Vast market for fish opens with EU green light
Noble House to begin shipping mid-February
January 24, 2004
Guyana's seafood sector has reached a key milestone with new marketing opportunities available following the handing over yesterday of the European Union's (EU) certification of the country's fish exports.
Seafood processors are now in a position to export their products to the EU which has a population of 480 million people who consume some 24.6 billion euros worth of seafood products, 22.4 billion of which is imported. Guyana's fish exports will be considered as equivalent in quality to those in Europe.
This was revealed yesterday by Per Eklund, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission to Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles during the official presentation of the certificate at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel.
Eklund said that this is an important milestone in Guyana's economic development since its fish produce has been given additional outlets that should bring increased prosperity for the sector. He noted also that added to the increased size of the EU there are clear signs of increased seafood consumption including of tuna and shrimp.
Bowhan Balkarran, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock noted that the Veterinary Public Health Department in the Ministry of Health has overall responsibility for monitoring and ensuring compliance with EU standards. Laboratory facilities had to be put in place to test for heavy metals and micro-organisms as required by the EU.
He said also that there has been some modification and reform of processing plants and so far one plant has been certified. Two other plants which are likely to be certified soon are Pritipaul Singh Investments (PSI) and BM Enterprise Inc.
In addition legislation had to be drafted, and fishing vessels and landing facilities had to be improved to comply with the stringent standards of the EU, the Permanent Secretary said.
Satyadeow Sawh, Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock and acting Minister of Agriculture, said that this move would open diverse markets and commended officers from the ministry, other agencies and the private sector for working together to ensure that certification became a reality.
He noted that the certification had the advantage of providing better prices than those available right now in the US.
General Manager of Noble House Seafoods, Leslie Ramalho said the company's dreams have been realised at a critical point for Guyana's fisheries sector as the cost of production is rising and prices are falling. He said however the stakeholders have demonstrated responsibility and come up with plans to seek new markets. He told Stabroek News that Noble House was affiliated with Heiplog, a Dutch company which controls major processing plants in Europe. Additionally, he noted, "we also have a company in Suriname that is already certified and shipping, so we should be ready to ship by mid-February." He added that they plan to ship their produce to Holland and Belgium from where it would be distributed across Europe.
Meanwhile, President of the Guyana Association of Trawler Owners and Seafood Processors, Lloyd Piggot drew attention to Guyana's need to be concerned over the anti-dumping petition in the US and other problems facing the industry such as high fuel prices. (Christopher Yaw)