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International Waters: Malaysian Koi and Goldfish EU Exports Could Resume—But Not Yet

Posted: June 26, 2012, 6:45 p.m., EDT

If the progress observed by the European Union’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) delegation during its last visit to Malaysia continues, the country could be resuming exports of koi and goldfish to the EU in the not-too-distant future. This, in brief, is the answer to the question that many European importers have been asking in recent months.

The story began several years back when an FVO visit to Malaysia concluded in 2008 that there were “serious shortcomings” throughout the production chain, raising concerns about possible health risks to EU fish stocks. This resulted in the suspension of imports of “certain aquaculture animals into the Community from Malaysia,” including koi and goldfish, but not freshwater tropical fish, imports of which were allowed to continue.

Koi Imports
Imports of Malaysian koi and goldfish into the EU will only resume once certain conditions are met.
John Dawes

Following the 2008 visit, the FVO made a series of recommendations to the Malaysian Competent Authority (CA) regarding a wide range of issues, from legislation to the organization of the CA itself, the health status of the fish, the capabilities of the country’s laboratory network and several other associated factors.

During the latest visit, the main findings/conclusions were as follows:

Legislation: The legal framework set up by the CA can now enable it to control the Aquaculture and Aquatic Animals sector once the effective legal status of disease notification has been clarified and the animal health rules on import/export have also been clarified.

CA and Official Controls: The CA has made “a considerable effort” to organize controls and progress has been made, although there are still shortcomings “which do not guarantee equivalence with the EU requirements.”

Animal Health: The health status of aquatic animals “relevant for export to the EU” was considered, in general, as being “inconclusive.” One contributing factor was that surveillance programs had started too recently. The FVO also found that Malaysia, “does not yet implement a system that can be considered equivalent to that required by the EU with regard to controls to prevent the spread of fish diseases.”

Import/Export: Although the CA has already harmonized the import/export certification requirements, and these entered into force in June 2011, the FVO visit discovered on a visit to a Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services border post that imports into Malaysia, “were still accepted with all kinds of health declarations.” Although the CA has now established clear procedures to control the Aquaculture and Aquatic Animals sector, these were still very new at the time of the visit and “insufficient to guarantee the health status of the farms of origin and/or of the country.”

Laboratory Network: This was found to be “progressing toward a quality system.” Nonetheless, “the diagnostic standards can not be considered equivalent to those required in the EU.”

Overall, the FVO visit found that the Malaysian CA is making a considerable effort and progress. However, “the requirements and standards applied are not yet equivalent to standards required by EU legislation to import aquatic animals.” Much of the legal framework and practical instruments are now in place, but there has not yet been sufficient time for them to become established.

Therefore, while Malaysia is taking many of the necessary steps in the right direction, it still has some way to go before it can once more join the list of Third Countries that are approved to export certain aquaculture animals, among them koi and goldfish, to the EU. At the time of writing, there are no details regarding the Malaysian CA’s responses to the FVO’s recommendations. As and when this information becomes available, I will, of course, inform our readers accordingly. <HOME>

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