Enhancing risk management to streamline international trade in fish products

Fresh approach will save time, money for traders while bolstering consumer safety

Indonesia has made significant strides in introducing modern risk management procedures into its vital aquaculture export sector in recent years, but still inspects 100% of fish and fishery product shipments entering the country.

At present, fresh fish such as mackerel, sardines and tuna are typically quarantined for 4 to 10 days at Indonesia’s ports while the Fish Quarantine and Inspection Agency (FQIA) samples and tests the shipments to ensure they are free of disease and safe for human consumption. Aside from the direct costs of storage and laboratory testing, delays increase the risk of spoilage.

In seeking to streamline this process, FQIA is working with the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation (the Alliance) to align risk assessment with international best practices and on efforts to introduce new processes such as evidence-based risk categorisation to facilitate quick decisions to be made at pre-border, border, and post-border points without compromising fish health and bio security as well as food safety. Ultimately, a more comprehensive approach to monitoring and controlling imports is expected to reduce the number of shipments subject to inspection.

“FQIA is pleased to be able to partner on this project with the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation and their implementing agency TFO Canada. Our joint preparation of the project, and our initial project activities have already been collaborative and constructive towards the project’s goal of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of international fishery commodities trade traffic in Indonesia via enhanced risk management in import control and inspections.” said Teguh Samudro, Director for Center of Standardisation System and Compliance, FQIA.

The Alliance, through its implementing partner, Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) Canada, is now working with FQIA, a competent authority under the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, and local businesses to introduce the reforms. The present control system adds considerable time and costs for importers, almost 20% of which are micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

Both local fish traders (including importers) and the economy as a whole stand to benefit from a reduction in inspections from current levels. FQIA currently conducts on-site and physical inspections on all fish imports, sampling 20 percent of containers to assure quality and safety. In contrast, deploying modern risk management techniques allows the European Union to confine testing to around one percent of such imports.

Indonesian fish traders and stakeholder business associations were consulted in identifying the challenges they face with the current system and will continue to engage with their government counterparts during project implementation.

“A robust risk management system is the basis for reducing business overheads while simultaneously minimising risks for consumers,” said Philippe Isler, the Alliance’s Director. “Indonesia and its importers of fish and fish products, particularly MSMEs, will certainly benefit from such a system.”

This project contributes to Indonesia implementing its commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which requires countries to expedite the movement, release, and clearance of goods.