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International Waters: Encouraging Koi Progress for South Korea

Posted: November 25, 2013, 12:25 p.m. EDT


By John Dawes

South Korea produces around 50 tons of koi per year. While this is not a large quantity when compared to major producers, such as Japan and Israel, South Korea has long wanted to export its koi to the European Union (EU). However, as things stand at the moment, it does not feature in the list of third countries (TC) that have clearance to export to the EU.

This list (established through Article 23 of Directive 2006/88/EC) consists of countries, zones, territories or compartments (e.g., farms) that, in the eyes of the European authorities, "can provide appropriate guarantees as regards compliance with the relevant animal health requirements of EU legislation, in particular with those that apply to the production, manufacture, handling, storage and dispatch of live AAs (live aquatic animals) intended for the EU.”

In early 2008, South Korea "expressed interest in exporting live AA, specifically koi carp (sic) and olive flounder, to the EU.” In order to ascertain whether it met EU requirements, an audit by the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission had been planned for 2011, but was cancelled at the request of the South Korean Competent Authority (CA), the department responsible for handling all health matters related to AA exports. The rescheduled visit took place April 8 to 18, 2013, and its final report had just been published at the time of writing.

Koi
South Korea is making encouraging progress concerning its desire to export koi to the EU, but it still has some way to go, according to the FVO. John Dawes

The FVO delegation held 17 meetings within South Korea, consisting of the following:
• Competent Authority: Two meetings at the headquarters of the National Fishery Products Quality Management Service (NFQS), plus three meetings with representatives of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI), and NFQS and the local/provincial authorities in their offices and on farms.
• Aquaculture Production Businesses: Seven meetings with relevant businesses—one in the Gyeonggi-do region, three in Jeju and two in Chungcheongbuk-do.
• AA Health Laboratories: Three meetings—one at NFRDI headquarters and two at designated laboratories in two regions.
• Border Inspection Post: Two meetings—one at Incheon International Airport and one at the seaport of Jungbu.

Following these meetings, the FVO concluded that, while South Korea’s national legislation provides adequate powers to the CA in relation to AA health, "the legal framework does not ensure that the NFQS receives timely information about the outbreak of AA diseases and cannot offer equivalent guarantees regarding official control of live AA and the approval of the farms intending to export live AA to the EU.”

Currently, 18 koi farms in South Korea are authorized for export by the NFQS "to one third country,” which is not mentioned by name. The FVO visited three farms, two of which are among the approved establishments. It found that, despite having certain biosecurity measures in place, important deficiencies were present.

Overall, the FVO audit concluded that South Korea "has made good progress” since 2008 "by putting a system in place for regular official controls and disease surveillance.” At the closing meeting with the CA, the audit team was assured "that the CA is determined to take all measures and actions necessary in order to fully meet the aquatic animal health requirements of the EU.”

Following submission of the FVO recommendations, the South Korean CA already has responded detailing the measures it will take and the deadlines by which they will be implemented.

As the main objective of the FVO audit was to assess existing standards and procedures within South Korea, there was no brief regarding a decision as to whether exports of koi would be allowed. This will, presumably, come at a later date, once the FVO’s recommendations have been implemented and a further audit is completed.

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