Mauritian Tuna soon on Chinese plates

8 years, 5 months ago - August 19, 2013
CHINA IS opening its doors to seafood imports from Mauritius. Fisheries minister Nicholas Von Mally was in Beijing last week to sign an agreement on export licensing for Mauritian products — a pact that could see Chinese fishing fleets displace European boats in the waters of the Indian Ocean nation. Von Mally met Wu Qinghai, Deputy Director of China’s quarantine body, the General Administration of Quality Supervision (AQSIQ).

A report of the meeting on AQSIQ’s website states that Wu and Von Mally signed a Memo for Mauritians Aquatic Products Exports — a vital step in getting AQSIQ approval for Mauritius seafood sale in China.

Von Mally also met China’s vice minister for agriculture, Chen Xiaohua. A statement from the ministry said the two sides “exchanged views on intensifying fishery cooperation,” with Chen reminding the Mauritius visitor that both nations are members of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and “are highly complementary to each other in terms of fisheries.” Chen remarked that Mauritius has a “wide exclusive ocean economic zone” and “rich fishery resources”, while China has “advanced aquaculture techniques” which it is willing to share with Mauritius.

 Chen said he wanted to see more cooperation between the two sides and would encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Mauritius. Von Mally, said China’s agricultural ministry statement, “fully agreed with Chen’s comment on bilateral fishery cooperation and showed his admiration China’s achievements in pelagic fishing and aquaculture… and said Mauritius was willing to carry out cooperation with China in pelagic fishing and aquaculture and provide possible conveniences to Chinese enterprises that intend to invest in Mauritius.

China’s entry into Mauritian waters would see it compete with Japanese, Taiwanese and European players in the region. It’s unclear how local fishermen will welcome this after the recent saga on EU vessels ‘overfishing and underpaying’. Under a deal with Mauritius vessels from EU states harvest 5,500 tons of fish a year for EUR 660,000 (USD 803,315) — a situation which undervalues local tuna, according to Mauritius’ Syndicat des Pecheurs. The union has also criticised European fishermen for using seiners that empty the seas of smaller fish swept up in the nets. However, Von Mally in a statement earlier this year disagreed with the fishermen, stating that the country doesn’t have sufficient vessels to fish its seas while processing for the EU market has created local employment.

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