The fishery exports through the Sino-Myanmar border has ground to a halt following the consequences and safety measures on the imported seafood amid the COVID-19 pandemic, traders stressed. Myanmar’s fishery export was experiencing a downturn due to the import restrictions triggered by the detection of the COVID-19 on fish imports in China. China was the second-largest buyer of Myanmar’s fishery products, accounting for US$254 million out of the overall fishery export value of $850 million in the past financial year2019-2020. At present, the fishery sector is dependent on maritime trade only. Export earnings from the fisheries sector over the first half (1 Oct-7 May) of the current Financial Year 2020-2021 touched a low of US$507.6 million, a decrease of $80.59 million from the year-ago period. According to statistics released by the Commerce Ministry, the figures stood at $588.25 million during a year-ago period.
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) issued guidelines to ensure food safety during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020. Permitted companies are advised to carry out food safety plans, follow the WHO and FAO guidelines, formulate a safety management system. They must suspend exports if any suspicious foodborne virus or virus infection risk are found in the products. The export is likely to resume once the products meet food safety criteria set by the General Administration of Customs of the People Republic of China (GACC). Myanmar Fisheries Federation stated that only the G2G pact could tackle problems faced in exporting farm-raised fish and prawns and ensure smooth freight movement between countries in order to bolster exports. During the last FY2019-2020, MFF expected to earn more than $800 million from fishery exports, and it reached a target.
Myanmar exports fisheries products, such as fish, prawns, and crabs, to markets in 40 countries, including China, Saudi Arabia, the US, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and countries in the European Union. The MFF is making concerted efforts to increase fishery export earnings by developing fish farming lakes that meet international standards and adopting advanced fishing techniques. The foreign market requires suppliers to obtain Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Good Aquaculture Practices (GAqP) certificates to ensure food safety. Fishery products must be sourced only from hatcheries compliant with GAqP to meet international market standards. 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.
There are 480,000 acres of fish and prawn breeding farms across the country and more than 120 cold-storage facilities in Myanmar. Myanmar exported 340,000 tonnes of fishery products worth $530 million in the 2013-2014FY, 330,000 tonnes worth $480 million in the 2014-2015FY, 360,000 tonnes worth $500 million in the 2015-2016FY, 430,000 tonnes worth $600 million in the 2016-2017FY, 560,000 tonnes worth $700 million in the 2017-2018FY and 580,000 tonnes worth over $730 million in the 2018-2019FY respectively, according to the Commerce Ministry. Myanmar’s economy is more dependent on the agricultural sector to a large extent. Also, the fisheries sector contributes a lot to the national gross domestic product (GDP). Its fishery production, including shrimps and saltwater and freshwater fish, is far better than the regional countries. Yangon Region Fisheries Department stated that if the government can boost processing technology, it can contribute to its economy. It will also earn more income for those stakeholders in the supply chain.
Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar