The authorities have granted permission to 25 cold-storage factories to export fish to the EU market so far, according to the Fisheries Department.
However, the factories will be struck off the list, if they fail to export fish within six months, it stated.
There are more than 120 cold-storage facilities in Myanmar, of which 23 have been allowed to export fish caught in the wild to the EU in June, and two more factories from Yangon Region and Rakhine State have been granted permissions recently, according to the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Division under the Fisheries Department.
The wild-caught fish are being sent to the UK, Italy, France, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Belgium, and Germany markets.
Earlier, only fish caught in the wild were permitted to be exported to the EU market. As exports of Myanmar farmed fish to the European Union have now been allowed, breeders are undertaking necessary measures to ensure Myanmar fishery products meet the rules and regulations of the EU market, according to the Myanmar Fisheries Federation (MFF).
To ensure food safety, the European market requires suppliers to obtain Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Aquaculture Practices (GAqP) certificates. Myanmar has only a small number of entrepreneurs who hold those certificates. Hence, fish breeders are preparing for the certifications.
To meet EU import standards, fishery products must be sourced only from hatcheries that are compliant with Good Aquaculture Practices (GAqP). The MFF is working with fish farmers, processors, and the Fisheries Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation to develop the GAqP system.
Processors can screen fishery products for food safety at ISO-accredited laboratories under the Fisheries Department.
“Earlier, breeders did not understand GAqP. Now, they are acquainted with this practice, and some breeders are trying to implement GAqP to export their products to more foreign markets. Some businessmen are practising mixed farming with fish and other livestock, such as broiler chickens and pigs. This kind of farming has been rejected by some foreign countries. To penetrate the global market, GAqP is a must for breeders,” said Dr. Toe Nanda Tin, the vice president of the MFF.
The federation has also asked the government to tackle problems faced in the export of farm-raised fish and prawns through G2G pacts, and ensure smooth freight movement between countries to bolster exports.
According to the MFF, integrated poultry and fish farming cannot ensure food safety, which is a requirement for export. Therefore, the federation has asked for the formulation of a law to restrict that kind of mixed farming. Fish farming must be conducted on a large-scale to get access to Project Bank loans, according to the MFF.
There are 480,000 acres of fish and prawn breeding farms across the country. Myanmar exports fishery products to 40 foreign countries, including countries in the European Union, China, Saudi Arabia, the US, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand.
In the 2017-2018FY, around 568,227 tons of fishery products, worth US$717.7 million, were exported, according to MFF statistics. Myanmar shipped fishery products worth $674 million to other countries during October-August in the current fiscal year, as per Commerce Ministry data.—GNLM (Translated by Ei Myat Mon)