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Seafood industry going the diamond way,feel experts

The seafood export industry in Gujarat,which employs around 10 lakh people,seems to be going the diamond industry way in the absence of support from the state government.

Written by Kamran Sulaimani | Ahmedabad |
January 24, 2009 1:17:26 am

Fate of 10 lakh employees hangs in balance as exports dip by 30%

The seafood export industry in Gujarat,which employs around 10 lakh people,seems to be going the diamond industry way in the absence of support from the state government.

Global meltdown has hit seafood exports from Gujarat to China and the European Union (EU).

The exports have come down by 30 per cent as per estimates by Veraval Fish Traders’ Association.

If the condition persists,the industry,experts say,will head for a major collapse. Kenny Thomas,president of the Veraval Fish Traders’ Association,said the situation is grim without help from the government.

“There is absolutely no support from the state government. Around 10 lakh people in the state are directly and indirectly related to the seafood industry. If the condition remains the same,hundreds of workers will be rendered jobless,” Thomas added.

This has already happened in the diamond industry. Barely six months ago,Gujarat diamond industry was the largest exporter of processed diamonds to the US and accounted for almost 8 out of every 10 diamonds processed to be sold worldwide. Today,it is in the throes of its worst-ever crisis with hundreds of shut units,thousands of unemployed workers struggling to survive and an increasing number of suicides by jobless workers.

Like the diamond units,most fishing units are also facing inventory problems. The demand from China for ribbon and croaker fish has gone down,as it supplies seafood to the US. Squid and cuttlefish exports to the EU have also been hit. The problem with the fishing industry is that it cannot divert products to the domestic market,as costs are too high and many exported items are not locally consumed.

Of the total Indian exports,EU accounts for 35 per cent,Japan 16 per cent and the US 13 per cent. India’s share in global marine exports is woefully low at 2 per cent. Gujarat supplies 60 per cent of its produce to China and 30 per cent to the European market. The rest 10 per cent goes to the US and South Africa.

The association is also worried about the fishermen who will lose their jobs. “If the units don’t make profits,they won’t be able to sustain the workforce. The workers are on the edge.”

The state agriculture minister could not be contacted despite several attempts.

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