The aqua industry has been hit hard by the corona virus in Andhra Pradesh, Minister for Fisheries Mopidevi Venkatramana Rao said on Saturday.

Addressing a press conference after a meeting with aqua industry representatives which was attended by Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, Mopidevi said the exports and imports of the seafood had come to a standstill due Covid-19 contagion. “This is a global phenomenon. Across the world, the seafood industry has been severely hit,” he said and urged the aqua formers not to panic as the government will initiate measures to mitigate the crisis arising out of corona virus.

He said Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has initiated several measures to ensure that the industry will not suffer losses due to the spread of Covid-19 and try to mitigate its impact on the seafood trade.

On Saturday, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister held detailed discussions with the representatives of Aqua Sector Association and other key industry players in the light of Covid-19 and its impact on the sea food industry.

“India occupies the second place after China in terms of exports to European countries and our state is one of the leading exporters of marine products,” Mopidevi said. Andhra Pradesh is the largest seafood-producing State with 34% of the total production of 13.92 lakh tonnes. China, EU, Japan, South East Asia and the Middle East are major markets for marine products from Andhra Pradesh and the rest of India. Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, and Krishnapatnam ports are major channels for exports of marine products. The spread of the coronavirus is causing considerable shifts in consumer behavior and disrupting transport and logistics in many of the markets sourcing seafood products, Andhra Pradesh is one of the states affected by the corona virus. The state government had directed officials concerned not to prevent vehicles that transport aqua products to the nearest port. “The lockdown will not apply to vehicles that transport aqua products. We will ensure smooth transportation of aqua seed and feed. The government instructed the officials concerned to allow workers for aqua farming activity and also permit the vehicles for transportation of prawn seeds and shrimp exports,” Mopidevi said.

Over the last two weeks, the prices of shrimp and prawns have declined considerably due to fall in exports and the traders are a worried that the prices could see a steep fall in the days to come. Mopidevi said the government will regulate the prices and ensure that the farmers will not be at the receiving end. “The months of April, May and June are crucial for the aqua industry. The chief minister has taken a serious view of the declining exports and import of aqua products. He assured that interests of the aqua traders and farmers will be taken care of by the government.” The state government has fixed minimum price of shrimp prices from 30 count to 80 count and warned of stern action against the middlemen and merchant exporters if they try to exploit the aqua farmers.

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