Seafood Of India

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Welcome to India's first Exclusive Seafood Portal

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India Refutes Labor Abuse Allegations in Booming Shrimp Industry

Top Exporter Faces Scrutiny, Vows to Maintain Standards

India, now the world’s leading supplier of shrimp to the US, has vehemently denied allegations of human rights and environmental abuses raised by a Chicago-based human rights group. These accusations come at a time when India’s seafood export industry, particularly shrimp, is experiencing significant growth.

Dominating the US Shrimp Market

In 2022-23, India’s seafood exports reached a staggering $8.09 billion (₹64,000 crore), with shrimp accounting for a substantial portion at $5.6 billion. This dominance is further solidified by India’s rising share of the US shrimp market. In just one year, India’s share surged from 21% ($1.3 billion) to a commanding 40% ($2.4 billion) in 2022-23, surpassing major competitors like Thailand, China, Vietnam, and Ecuador.

Dismissing Claims and Protecting Reputation

A senior Indian Commerce Ministry official dismissed a report by the Corporate Accountability Lab (CAL) as “baseless.” This report raised concerns about working conditions within Indian shrimp hatcheries, farms, and processing facilities. The official emphasized that the entire value chain for India’s shrimp exports is stringently monitored and certified by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), effectively eliminating opportunities for such concerns to affect overseas shipments.

Furthermore, the official suggested that these allegations may be driven by “vested interests” aiming to undermine the reputation of India’s aquaculture sector and its products in international markets.

Women: A Backbone of the Industry

India’s shrimp industry provides vital employment opportunities, particularly in Andhra Pradesh, which holds the distinction of housing around one lakh shrimp farms and contributing to nearly 70% of the country’s total shrimp output. Women play a crucial role in this sector, comprising an estimated 70% of the workforce – from the two lakh positions in hatcheries and farms to the processing and freezing units.

Upholding Standards and Addressing Concerns

With the ambitious goal of scaling up seafood exports to ₹1 lakh crore by 2025-26, the Indian government is taking proactive measures. The Commerce Ministry may advise exporters to commission independent studies on working conditions within shrimp farms. This initiative aims to address concerns raised by major markets like the US and the EU and demonstrate India’s commitment to ethical practices.

Additionally, the Ministry has requested that the Andhra Pradesh government investigate the specific allegations outlined in the CAL report, which highlight the potential existence of “dangerous and abusive conditions” for workers.

The Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) further emphasized that the CAL report unfairly presents isolated instances without thorough verification. They maintain that such selective reporting attempts to generalize practices across the entirety of India’s shrimp farming and processing sector.

MPEDA officials reiterated India’s adherence to international regulations. Regular monitoring by Indian regulatory agencies, coupled with audits conducted by inspectors from the USFDA, European Commission, and the GAC of China, ensures compliance with international standards throughout the shrimp value chain.

India’s booming shrimp industry faces a critical test in the wake of these allegations. The government’s commitment to upholding ethical practices and addressing concerns, along with independent studies and cooperation with state governments, will be crucial in maintaining its position as a leading global supplier of shrimp.

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