Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What is the Seafood Hub of Mauritius?

Sorting of brine-frozen tuna after unloading
The Sea Food Hub of Mauritius is an important sector of the economy as it is producing foreign exchange currency through exports of fishery products (including products of aquaculture) and providing employment. In 2009, export of fishery products (90,000 tonnes) which accounted for around 15% of the total national export was estimated at MUR 9 billion and emanated mainly (>95%) from the processing of imported fish. Total imports of fishery products (mainly frozen and canned) amounted to around MUR 7 billion resulting in a positive trade balance of some MUR 2 billion.

The Government of Mauritius jointly with the private sector has developed a modern Sea Food Business Hub in the Free Port Zone of Mer Rouge. Government’s strategy is focused on the transhipment and export of fishery products and ensuring that the quality of products is in compliance with international norms. In 2009, solely MUR 2 billion has been generated from the re-export of fishery products in the Freeport. 

The European Union is by far the world’s biggest importer of fish, seafood and aquaculture products. The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO) is responsible for food safety in the European Union. The import rules of the DG SANCO seek to guarantee that all imports fulfil the same high standards as products manufactured within the EU Member States, with respect to hygiene and consumer safety and, if relevant, also to the animal health status. Third countries such as Mauritius wishing to export fish and fishery products to the EU must have a National Competent Authority in place in their country, which is responsible for official controls throughout the production chain. The National Competent Authority must be empowered, structured and resourced to implement effective inspection and guarantee credible public and animal health attestations in the export certificate to accompany fishery products that are destined for the EU. 

Exports of fishery products from Mauritius are only authorised from approved vessels and establishments (e.g. processing plants, freezer vessels, cold stores) which have been inspected by a National Competent Authority and found to meet EU requirements. A list of such approved establishments must be sent to the DG SANCO and then published on its website. To verify compliance with the EU requirements, the EU Commission’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) carries out inspections in third countries. Such an inspection mission is the basis of establishing confidence between the EU Commission and the National Competent Authority of the exporting country.