Workers say harbour will be finally able to meet EU export standards
Fishermen, seafood exporters and those engaged in ancillary industries in Odisha’s Paradip welcomed Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s announcement of developing a fishing harbour and fish landing centre in the port town in Jagatsinghpur district.
Kochi in Kerala, Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and Petuaghat in West Bengal will also be developed as hubs for economic activities.
In May 2020, the state fisheries department had submitted a proposal to the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying asking for Rs 30 crore to modernise the state’s biggest fishing harbour at Paradip. The funds would be used to fill the infrastructure gaps and promote seafood export under Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), the letter said.
“We are happy the finance minister gave green signal to the project by providing money in the budget,” said Pabitra Behera, joint-director, fisheries (coastal) department of Odisha.
The department plans to upgrade the hygiene standards in the fishing harbour by establishing an effluent treatment plant among other amenities under the project. “Ice-crushing machines, solar-powered lighting and CCTVs will be installed in the harbour with the funds. A mechanised fishing vessel repair workshop will also be set up, Behara said. The auction hall and the periphery of the harbour will be modernised,” he added.
The fishing harbour in Paradip was constructed by the state in 1996 at a cost of Rs 39 crore. The state government handed over the harbour to the Paradip Port Trust (PPT) in 1998 for maintenance. In 2019, PPT handed over the fishing harbour to the fisheries department.
In the financial year 2019-20, around 32 companies in Odisha exported around 45,000 tonnes of seafood worth around Rs 3,200 crore. Of this, Paradip fishing harbour contributed Rs 500 crore.
“Odisha has resources like 480 kilometre of coastline along with 24,000 square kilometers within the continental shelf for which we are determined to fulfill all the hygiene and other norms in the fishing harbour,” added Behera.
Three years ago, a two-member delegation from the European Union (EU) inspected the fishing harbour at Paradip to assess its conditions, infrastructure facilities and hygienic conditions for seafood export trade in the state. In the past, the European Union had banned seafood from Pakistan and a few other countries owing to unhygienic conditions for not meeting required quality standards.
The European Commission has brought in a new regulation which insists on validated-catch certificate or certificate for consignments of fish, shrimp, squid, cuttlefish, octopus and others exported to the EU. This requirement is compulsory for all consignments made out of catches from the sea.
"We are delighted that the Union finance minister announced to modernise the fishing harbour. We hope the work will be done soon and the harbour will be able to meet the hygiene requirements prescribed by EU for sea-food export," said Sumant Kumar Biswal, secretary of Odisha Marine Fish Producers Association (OMFPA), Paradip.
Hundreds of marine fishermen and related workers will benefit from the funds announced, said Prasana Behera, the president of Odisha Traditional Fish Workers Union.
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