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12:03 AM   April 27, 2015
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Singapore Coldwater EU Exports Under Threat

By John Dawes

European Union officials visited Singapore between November 16 and 19, 2009, to assess the health controls the country has in place for aquacultured animals destined for export to the EU. In particular, they were interested in fish susceptible to epizootic ulcerative syndrome (EUS) and spring viraemia of carp (SVC).

Singapore has ceased, for the moment, issuing health certificates for koi, thus effectively self-suspending exports to the EU. Photo by John  Dawes
Imports into the EU are only allowed from countries that appear on what might be termed a “clean list” with regard to these diseases. However, the visit “revealed serious shortcomings regarding imports into Singapore of aquaculture animals and products from several third-party countries and the animal health certification of such animals and products intended for imports into the European Union,” according to the draft regulation proposed by the EU delegation.

As a result, EU officials determined that Singapore could not guarantee the health status of such animals as required by EU law.

Consequently, the EU officials decided it was necessary to produce a draft regulation aimed at suspending imports from Singapore “of live fish belonging to the Cyprinidae family of aquaculture origin intended for…open ornamental facilities as well as of certain ornamental fish belonging to that family for closed ornamental facilities.”

In practical terms, this means that, if the draft regulation were approved, EU member states (with the exception of the United Kingdom) would not be able to import koi from Singapore. In the U.K.’s case, the country would not be able to import either koi or goldfish from Singapore.

Circulation of the draft regulation provoked intense consultations between various trade organizations—the Ornamental Fish International (OFI) organization and the U.K.’s Ornamental Aquatic Trade Organization (OATA)—and the European Commission, the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore and the Dutch Chief Veterinary Officer. Thanks to these interventions and the resulting discussions between the European Commission and the AVA (Singapore’s competent authority responsible for issuing health certificates), the draft is said to be “off the table,” according to the OFI.

Exports of goldfish and koi to the EU—minus five member states that are officially SVC-free—will continue. Photo by John  Dawes
This does not, however, mean that EU officials can’t reactivate it and take it beyond the draft stage. Rather, the freeze provides some breathing space for Singapore to carry out the required changes to meet the EU health demands. Indeed, Singapore has already taken some important steps.

For example, it ceased issuing health certificates for koi and goldfish destined for the five European countries that have an anti-SVC program in place; namely, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the U.K. This means that koi imports from Singapore into these countries are momentarily suspended. Other EU countries that don’t fall into the anti-SVC program category can, for the moment, continue to import these fish.

Singapore will also likely review import procedures, including the types, frequency and intensity of fish health inspections at points of entry into the country, as well as modify requirements regarding import certification. Singapore importers may also now need to source new suppliers who can meet the EU import requirements.

The AVA is working feverishly as I write these lines to devise and implement all the measures it feels are necessary to meet the EU requirements amid international expectation that, in typical fashion, Singapore will live up to its reputation for efficiency and will come up with an effective and acceptable formula. <HOME>

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Alex Ploeg, OFI Secretary General, for clarifying a number of points related to this item.

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