How To Export Fish From India

Over 50 million people around the world depend on fishing for their daily income, whereas an additional 150 million depend on fishing-related industries for their livelihood. Over 10 million individuals who work on around 2.5 million small-scale trawlers and fishing boats account for almost 50% of the world’s total catch. Aquaculture has also grown in popularity in recent years as a more sustainable option that helps increase the local fish supply.

India is a major exporter of fish with the fish export business bringing in over 476 billion INR in 2020. Overall the fish export business in India is the fourth largest in the world. The Indian government is doing all it can to promote the export of fish from India and grow India’s stature as a seafood exporter. This article will look at the fish export business in India, and how exporters can sell packaged fish legally to foreign nations.

Export of Fish from India

As per the words of the Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Som Parkash, the government is doing all it can to boost fish export in India. While talking at the International Seafood Show in India, Prakash mentioned how the government has committed to supporting the seafood industry. The fishing and seafood industry employs over 14.5 million people in India and has the potential to contribute a lot more to India’s economic development. The government has asked the Marine Products Export Development Authority, also known as the MPEDA to submit a memorandum regarding the industry’s requirements. Once they receive the memo, the government will address these shortcomings to raise the overall standard of the industry. 

The government aims to increase India’s market share in the overall seafood market from 4.1% to 6.7% by 2030. The industry employs over 40.5 million people through additional sectors and other subsidiary ventures, contributing 1% to India’s gross domestic product. Several politicians have also asked for more foreign direct investment to enter the sector to power further innovation. To meet the goal set by the government, the industry will have to hit an INR 1 trillion valuation by 2025, which will be double what it was worth in 2019.

Challenges Faced by the Fish Export Business in India

The Budget for 2020 has prioritised fishing, with the aim being to increase production to 20 million metric tons by 2023, which would amount to an increase of 50% from 2019. From 2017 to 2018, India’s fish production increased by nearly 6%, with the total fisheries production steadily increasing in recent years. When it comes to fish production, Andhra Pradesh tops the rankings with 3.99 million MT in 2018, followed by West Bengal, with 1.77 million MT. However, the fish export business in India has faced several challenges when it comes to reaching out to new markets, some of which are as follows;

  • Japan – Limited growth due to additional inspections and requirement for certifications and audits implemented due to the food safety standards practised in Japan.
  • European Union – Exports from India have to undergo extra testing for several antibiotic contaminants after a study discovered deficiencies within our food safety controls.
  • United States of America – Though the USA is the biggest importer of shrimps from India, they recently banned the purchase of wild shrimp from India. This came to be as wild catching of shrimp does not make use of devices that exclude endangered turtles. However, Indian exporters have argued that such species of turtles are not found along the west coast where shrimp is caught.  
  • China – Applied stricter inspection norms and other control measures to fish exports from India.

How to Export Fish from India

The export of fish from India requires the completion of certain legal compliance norms and registrations, which are as follows; 

  1. First and foremost, the exporting company must register with the Director-General of Foreign Trade and obtain an Import Export Code. 
  2. Next, the business will have to obtain all the required export certificates and official assurances ensuring they comply with the Overseas Market Access Requirements. These are specific to the country of import and hence the company must go through the importing country’s General Requirements for Export to maintain statutory compliance. 
  3. Since the fish export business is subject to stringent licensing and quality control protocols, the exporting company must ensure they comply with the guidelines. This will require them to obtain various certificates indicating that the product is free of toxic substances and is appropriately labelled.  
  4. The exporting company must also pay special attention to labelling and packaging criteria as seafood is allergic to many and requires special packaging. 
  5. The business must also ensure good hygienic practices while handling and transporting fish while also providing ample refrigeration along the way. Businesses can opt to follow the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system to ensure food safety, hygiene and quality. 
  6. The Indian government established the Indian Customs and Excise Gateway to fasten the process of customs clearance. Through this system, companies can apply for an export license by submitting the required application, supporting documents and processing fees online. 
  7. Exporters can also take the help of Customs House Agents registered under the Commissioner of Customs to speed up the process of clearance.

Documents Required to Export Fish from India

  1. Importer/Exporter Code 
  2. Directorate General of Foreign Trade registration
  3. Shipping bill
  4. Bill of export
  5. Business Identification Number from the Customs department
  6. Bill of lading
  7. Export General Manifest
  8. Commercial invoice
  9. Packing list
  10. Certificate of origin from the MPEDA
  11. Health certificate from the Export Inspection Agency 
  12. Catch certificates from the MPEDA 
  13. Registration Cum Membership Certificate through the MPEDA
  14. Certificate of Incorporation of the business
  15. Valid ID and address proof of the applicant along with two passport-sized photographs 

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