China, the largest market for Indian seafood items, will stop imports from the country from June 1.
In a major development that will hit the domestic marine export business, India has been excluded from the list of countries that have cleared China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine certification norms for export of aquatic products.
China had published a notice on the implementation of administrative measures of inspection, quarantine and supervision on entry and exit of aquatic products in May last year.
Even as India did not figure in the list of approved countries published in October, it is said to have not acted on it.
China will allow seafood consignments from AQSIQ-approved countries only.
In a notification, AQSIQ had approved 27 countries that confirmed import conditions.
Of these, seven -- Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, Japan, Philippines, Myanmar and South Korea -- are from the Asian region.
Ten nations from Europe, seven from the American Continent and Australia and New Zealand are also included in the list of approved countries.
This will be a serious setback for India, particularly for the seafood export sector of the Gujarat region.
India exported 159,000 tonnes of marine products to China in 2010-11.
This was more than 20 per cent of the country's total seafood export. In value terms, at Rs 1,978 crore (Rs 19.78 billion), exports to the Chinese market accounted for 15 per cent of the country's total export earnings.
Of India's total seafood exports to China, Gujarat alone accounts for 71,000 tonnes.
China mainly imports low-value bulk items, which are exported from Gujarat.
So, according to leading seafood exporters, the inaction by the Union government would endanger the seafood exports from the country in general and Gujarat in particular.
Some of the exporters told Business Standard that China had been one of the major markets for Indian seafood items over the past decade, as it required low-value bulk items.
It was because of the export of these items to China and West Asian countries that the value of almost all sea catches increased sharply in the past five-six years.
Europe, the US and Japan import only high-value items like frozen shrimp and squid.
The country's total seafood exports during April-December stood at 621,577 tonnes, valued at Rs 12,190 crore (Rs 121.9 billion).