China concentrates 42% of Ecuadorian shrimp sales in 2019.
China temporarily closes its market to two Ecuadorian shrimp exporters
Wednesday, September 11, 2019, 22:30 (GMT + 9)
A batch of Ecuadorian shrimp received a phytosanitary alert to enter China. Last month, a supposed presence of the white spot and yellowhead viruses was detected in a shipment of two Ecuadorian exporting companies.
José Antonio Camposano, president of the National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA), explained yesterday that this health alert generated the temporary suspension of these two companies to export to China. On Monday they received official notifications of the temporary suspension to send their products to China.
White spot disease
"That official announcement was only known last Monday, so until the end of August exports did not register any different behavior," Camposano said.
China is the main destination for shrimp exports, with 64% of the volume in pounds so far in 2019, according to data from the National Aquaculture Chamber. This includes sales that enter through Vietnam, which also reach the Chinese market.
Between January and July of this year, more than 516 million pounds of shrimp were exported to the two countries, equivalent to USD 1,317 million. In recent days, Camposano said that Asian demand has boosted the growth of the sector in recent years, which until July has exported more than USD 2 billion.
Minister of Production, Foreign Trade, Investments and Fisheries, Iván Ontaneda said that to address the phytosanitary alert, a joint strategy has been articulated between the National Government, the Foreign Ministry and the private sector.
"In the next few days we will unlock the issue with China, one of our main buyers," he said. To achieve this, the Minister announced that today a delegation - made up of the Vice Minister of Production, Diego Caicedo, and the Vice Chancellor of the Republic, Andrés Terán - will travel to China to deal with the declaration of white spot outbreak in this cargo.
According to Ontaneda, what is being discussed is that the impact be as low as possible and trade relations with this country are not affected.
The authorities are responding to this alert of alleged white spot and yellowhead through the response protocols that already exist, to prevent the commercialization of the crustacean.
Explanatory poster for farmers produced by the government of Sonora (Mexico) to detect the yellowhead virus (Photo: CESASIN)
Only one container has received the health alert, of more than 350 that were sent on that date. This period is key in the Asian market, as sales must be finalized for the beginning of the Chinese year. Additionally, a clarification has been requested, since the existence of the white spot has been declared in that country. In the late 1990s, shrimp farming in Ecuador was affected by that pest. But years later the crustacean was genetically strengthened and became resistant to that virus.
Regarding the presence of yellowhead, this is a disease that is not present in the country. And most likely, the finding in China was a false positive. Stanislaus Sonnenholzner, director of the National Center for Aquaculture and Marine Research (Cenaim), of the Polytechnic School of the Coast (Espol), said that the Ecuadorian shrimp took more than seven years to adapt to the white spot, which devastated it in 1998. Currently, it is a disease with which one lives and is harmless, not only in Ecuador but in several Latin American countries.
The modification in the genetics and the strengthening of the crustacean has allowed the disease not to be fatal, as in previous decades, he explained. According to the technician, the warning of the possible presence of yellowhead disease should be ruled out, because that pathogen does not exist in the country.
But he explained that it is necessary to emphasize other threats of emerging diseases, such as the iridescent virus, which is present in Asia but could migrate.
Source: El Comercio