The Norwegian Seafood Council has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria to reconsider its policy on importation of fish into the country.
Recall that, in 2015 the CBN first placed some 42 items on
a list not valid for Foreign Exchange Window in Nigeria.
According to the group, iniitially
imported pelagic fish and stockfish were not included in this list;
however, fish was later included. “With the inclusion of fish on the
list, it automatically affected stockfish and stockfish heads
imports into Nigeria”, the group said
Speaking at a two-day seafood seminar in Lagos, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen, the incubent Minister of Fisheries and Seafood, Norway, while addressing the participants at the seminar said despite the popularity of Stockfish in Nigeria, it does not pose a threat to the encouragement of an increased local production of fish in Nigeria as the imported volume is relatively low, it does not involve repatriation of a lot of foreign currency as compared to other items on the list.
“Stockfish/stockfish heads is a unique product that is produced in
a unique environment in Norway in order to give it the very special
and sought-after taste.”
Ingebrigtsen therefore urged the government to reconsider its policy in order to boost the bilateral trade between the two countries.”
On his own part, Knut Eiliu Lein, Norwegian Ambassador to Nigeria explained that Stockfish was first imported to Nigeria in the 1890-ties and it is today enjoyed by Nigerians all over the country and occupies an
important part in the Nigerian cuisine.
Heads are currently more or less the most affordable Fish proteins
for a majority of Nigerians in the low-income bracket. Many
livelihoods depend on stockfish trade as both men and women are
involved in the sales in all the Nigerian markets”, he said.
Lein said he understands why Nigerian government like to protect the growing fish industry but while building the domestic capacity, the government also should focus on removing challenges to trade that benefits the Norwegians and Nigerians.
He argued that Nigeria does not have the climate to produce stock fish but has the market. He therefore urged the government to reconsider his policy adding that stockfish trade between the two countries is a win-win for all.
“Perfectly fine fish ends up being imported as animal food.This is neither right nor ethically correct. And neighbouring countries end up making the money that Nigerian importers and traders should do because the fish is shipped through other parts in the region”.
Also speaking, the Chairman, 1st Premier Stockfish Importers Association, Ilobinso Gregory urged the government to delist stockfish from the list of the 43 items that cannot access foreign exchange from the Central Bank window.
According to him, since the stockfish as needed in the country cannot be grown and processed in Nigeria, there is need to sustain its import until such a time the can do so, otherwise the protein source will diminish in both the production of food and perhaps direct consumption in some cases.
Ilobinso also urged the FG to reduce the the current duty on importation of stockfish to 10 per cent. “This will result in reduced price to the final users”, he said.