US Import Ban on Wild-Caught Shrimps Hits Kerala Fishermen Hard

The US temporarily disallowed imports following reports about the absence of turtle-excluding devices in the fishing nets.

New Delhi: The fishing community in Kerala has suffered a major setback after the US imposed a ban on the import of wild-caught shrimps from India. The state exports nearly $300 million worth of such shrimps to the US. The ban does not impact the farm-raised shrimp harvest.

The ban is likely to also lead to a crash in the price of brown shrimps, Karikkadi shrimps and deep sea shrimps, which are among the most popular varieties that are exported.

report in Mathrubhumi said the curbs placed by the US would deal a severe blow to the fishing industry in Kerala which is already facing an acute financial crisis. It said people who professionally operate boats in the region are also likely to suffer since export proceeds go a long way in funding such fishing operations.

Additionally, a large number of boats used by Kerala fishermen come in from Tamil Nadu. Fishing supports the livelihood of a large number of people in both the states.

Earlier, a report in the Hindu Businessline stated that the US restrictions on wild-caught shrimps from India would continue for the time being. The decision was taken following a recent inspection by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the US state department to assess the wild-caught shrimp harvesting systems in India.

Also read: After a Decade, Black Tiger Shrimps Stage a Comeback in Kerala

The US temporarily disallowed these imports following reports about the absence of turtle-excluding devices in the fishing nets. The NMFS had, therefore, also clarified that aquaculture (farm-raised) shrimp harvested in India was eligible to enter the US market.

The decision has hit India’s shrimp exports to the US, which are to the tune of nearly $2 billion, quite hard. The share of wild-caught shrimps is about 11% of the total harvest.

Kerala has in the meantime flagged the issue to the Centre. The president of the Sea Food Exporters Union, Alex Nainan, was quoted by the Mathrubhumi report as saying that the group approached the Centre soon after news of the ban came. He also stated that efforts were on to minimise its impact.

Since the ban is related to efforts to protect sea turtles, the report also noted how the Director of Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Dr. Ravishankar said that a TED system has been developed so that sea turtles were not caught during fishing of shrimps. He also gave assurances that the procedure would be modified to conform to the requirements placed by US experts.