Time to focus on quality standards to boost seafood export

ISLAMABAD-Seafood industry is a highly profit-oriented and sustainable sector of the global economy. Pakistan needs more high-tech quality test labs to export world-standard seafood products. This will benefit the stakeholders and encourage the investors to establish this industry in Pakistan.
Talking to WealthPK about the export of quality seafood from Pakistan, Director General Fisheries Department Punjab (DFP) Dr. Sikandar Hayat said, “Internationally, quality assurance is a critical segment of seafood export. To meet international standards, the DFP has taken a step forward. We have established an extensively high-tech ISO-2025-certified laboratory. For quality assurance of seafood, almost all types of measures are executed here, i.e., monitoring of magnesium, calcium, and sodium levels, standard pelagic organism decline (POD) and COD tests, microbiological tests concerning bacteria, histamine and chloramphenicol analysis, etc. Histamine-type contamination mostly occurs in stale fish. Presence of heavy metals is also possible to test here. The most demanding and common standard in the European Union is that the seafood must be free of histamine, chloramphenicol and heavy metals. Our lab meets all these parameters to export processed or value-added seafood to the Middle Eastern, European, and other markets. All the aforementioned contaminations are not acceptable to any market.”
Continuing the discussion, he said whenever a country places an order for any type of seafood, they provide a list of all the required quality measures, and the quality of products may vary, but mostly these are of the same standards. Dr. Sikandar Hayat said it was important to establish more high-tech quality test labs in Pakistan, which will encourage investors to develop this industry here. Around the globe, he said, the seafood industry was a highly profit-oriented and sustainable economic sector. There is a need to focus on this sector. Establishment of this sector will open a new job market, increase GDP, and bring handsome foreign exchange to the state coffers through seafood exports. The global seafood market is expected to grow worth US$605.46 billion at the Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.29% by the year 2029 from worth US$310.75 billion in 2021. Pakistan must get its share by enhancing the export of value-added and quality seafood. The development of a quality seafood industry in the country is also important to fulfill the need for nutritious food in future for the growing population. To maintain the standard and quality of seafood, sophisticated labs are a necessary tool. Public-private partnership is a must for it because no sector can flourish without the private sector’s interest and involvement.

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