Controversy in Brazil for self imposed ban on sea food exports to Europe

The Brazilian aquaculture association Peixe BR criticized the temporary suspension of fish and shellfish exports to the European Union (EU) self-imposed by the Brazilian government. The entity which represents more than half of the Brazilian production of farmed fish argued that “without doubt, this is bad news, but it can’t be said that it is unexpected or that it has been a surprise for the Brazilian authorities”.

The association regrets “the lack of attention” to the national aquaculture by the competent bodies, and requires the federal government to urgently take the necessary measures to avoid that decision affecting the current relationship of the sector with other markets and imperils the conquest of new business partners.

Peixe BR highlights that the aquaculture industry has an annual turnover of more than BRL 4 billion (US$ 1,2bn) and employs a million people.

The temporary suspension of fish exports established by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA) came into force on January 3, and will be accompanied by an Action Plan to respond to the EU questions presented after the audit made in September 2017.

The measure was announced on December 26 by Luís Rangel, Secretary of Agricultural Defense of the MAPA, and aims to prevent the possible unilateral suspension by the EU. At the same time, the MAPA is looking for ways to implement collaboration with other public agencies for sanitary inspection on boats, a subject that has been criticized by Europeans.

MAPA said that it will ask the European authorities to separate the sanitary requirements for extractive fishing products from those applied to aquaculture species.

”The European health authorities consider that fish are part of a single context, a position we disagree with; they are different matrices (pollutant and different risks) to be treated equally,” Rangel explained.

MAPA pointed out that from September 2017, with the arrival of the EU audit mission to Brazil, the national authorities knew of the criticism of wild fish catches, mainly in relation to the industries that processed fish for export. The EU audit focused on these industries, which justifies the request for a separation between catch fisheries and aquaculture.

Rangel assured that the objective of MAPA is the resumption of export of fish as soon as possible. In 2016, Brazil sea food exports totaled US$ 33.1 million, and until November 30 of last year, exports reached US$ 21.8 million.

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