Technical Regulations for export and import of fishery products

Globalization has, in fact, helped the consumers to have access to a vast variety of food products all over the world. This in turn has made them more conscious for demanding food products with better quality and safety. In order to cope up with the ever-increasing consumer demands and also to compete with the ever-changing international market requirements, countries are forced to develop suitable national regulations so as to ensure the quality and safety of food products as per the international requirements. Even though, such stringent national food safety regulations may be essential to protect the health and interest of the consumers of their country, it may naturally create trade barriers. In order to reduce trade barriers and to increase the international trade, SPS agreement has brought out the policy of ‘Equivalence’, which specifies that member countries shall recognize other countries SPS measures and regulations as equivalent to their own, if it is demonstrated that these measures can achieve the appropriate level of sanitary and phytosanitary protection. For this purpose, countries can harmonize their sanitary or phytosanitary measures as per the international standards/ guidelines or can develop their own SPS measures based on risk analysis. The principles of achieving harmonization of standards and equivalency in food control systems and the use of scientifically-based standards are the most important guidelines of WTO agreements. National food safety standards of any country, developed based on the international Codex standards, guidelines or recommendations, are deemed to be appropriate and not discriminatory.

The most important aspect in establishing the safety of fishery products is the holistic food chain approach, where the primary responsibility of maintaining the quality and safety of the fish is bestowed on the stakeholders such as producers, processors, transport/storage operators and distributers. However, the implementation of the ‘food chain approach’ requires well developed regulatory standards and a properly defined regulatory control system, without which the ‘farm to fork’ concept cannot be achieved.

In view of the above, the technical regulations of Myanmar have been developed based on the national and international requirements for the smooth trade of Fish and Fishery Products. This document is addressed to the entire stakeholders of the food chain starting from primary producers to the processors and distributors (including feed manufacturers, hatcheries, farms, fishing vessels, auction centres, ice manufacturers, cold storage and processors) as well as the Competent Authority by providing norms and instructions necessary for the export and import of fishery products based on the requirements of Union of Myanmar. These regulations covers all the major SPS requirements for hygienic handling of fish and fishery products meant for import and export purpose. Even though, these regulations are prepared based mainly on the requirements of European Union (EU), the requirements of other major importing countries like USA, China, Japan, Russia etc are also taken into account. Since Myanmar is a member country of ASEAN, the requirements of ASEAN Economic Community are well taken into consideration.

The legal basis of this technical regulation is the ‘Myanma Marine Fisheries Law’ dated 25th April 1990. In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 23 of ‘Myanma Marine Fisheries Law 1990’, the Director General of the Department of Fisheries is empowered to issue conditions, prohibitions, orders, and directives relating to fishery.

As per Section 19 of the said law, the Department of Fisheries (DoF) is also empowered to grand approval/ registration to fish handling establishments, fishing vessels etc of Myanmar and as per Section 24, the Director General of the Department of Fisheries can suspend, revoke, terminate or cancel any license/ approval or to take any action as deemed fit.

Envisaging greater opportunities for the fish trade of Union of Myanmar in the international market, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has sponsored this project of developing the technical regulations based on the SPS requirements for the export and import of fishery products.

The major objective of these technical regulations is to achieve smooth flow and development of trade of fish and fishery products of Union of Myanmar by;

  1. Establishing proper control systems throughout the food chain, starting from the primary production areas such as hatcheries, farms, feed mills, fishing vessels, landing sites, auction halls etc.
  2. Achieving the desired quality and safety of fish and fishery products at all stages of production, storage and distribution with an integrated farm-to-table concept thereby ensuring high level protection of consumer health
  3. Entrusting responsibilities on producers, business operators and also on competent authority.
  4. Establishing HACCP based control system by the industry as a tool to achieve food safety.
  5. Enforcing legal and regulatory requirements by the competent authority through regular monitoring/surveillance visits
  6. Carrying out risk analysis before laying down standards/control measures for controlling food safety hazards
  7. Establishing transparency through public consultation and public information.
  1. Additives : ‘Food additive’ shall mean any substance not normally consumed as a food in itself and not normally used as a characteristic ingredient of food, whether or not it has nutritive value, the intentional addition of which to food for a technological purpose in the manufacture, processing, preparation, treatment, packaging, transport or storage of such food results, or may be reasonably expected to result, in it or its by-products becoming directly or indirectly a component of such foods;
  2. Aquaculture : means the rearing or cultivation of aquatic organisms using techniques designed to increase the production of those organisms beyond the natural capacity of the environment and where the organisms remain the property of one or more natural or legal persons throughout the rearing or culture stages, up to and including harvesting
  3. Business Operator: means the natural or legal person responsible for implementing the requirements specified by the Competent Authority within the food business under his control.
  4. Carry-over: means the level of transfer of any substance or product from one production batch to the immediate subsequent batch in a particular section of the plant.
  5. Catch Certificate: means the certificate validated by a public authority of the flag state of the fishing vessel(s) to certify that the catches mentioned in the certificate have been made in accordance with applicable law, regulations and international conservation and management measures.
  6. Control Measure: means any action or activity that can be used to prevent, eliminate or reduce a significant food safety hazard.
  7. Critical Control Points (CCPs): means a step at which control can be applied and is essential to prevent or eliminate a food-safety hazard or to reduce it to acceptable level.
  8. Exotic diseases: means diseases of aquatic animals which are not known in the country/zone and the pathogen is not reported in the country waters.
  9. Factory vessel : means any vessel on board of which fishery products undergo processing such as filleting, slicing, skinning, shelling, shucking or mincing etc followed by packing/wrapping and chilling or freezing
  10. Feed additives: means substances, micro- organisms or preparations, other than feed materials and pre-mixtures, which are intentionally added to the feed or water in order to fulfil a specific need.
  11. Freezer vessel : means any vessel on board of which freezing of fishery products is carried out, where appropriate, after processing and packing
  12. Hazard: means a biological, chemical or physical agent that is reasonably likely to cause illness or injury in the absence of its control.
  13. Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP): is a food safety system wherein a systematic approach has been developed for the identification, evaluation and control of food safety hazards.
  14. Hatchery: means a place where spawning and larval rearing of aquatic animals takes place generally for commercial purpose.
  15. Illegal treatment: shall mean the use of unauthorized substances/ products or the use of authorized substances/products above the permissible limit.
  16. Independent cold store : means a cold store constructed separately to store fishery products meant for export produced by approved establishments, factory vessels or freezer vessels
  17. Independent ice plant: means an ice producing plant constructed separately to supply ice to establishments, factory vessels, freezer vessels, fishing vessels, landing sites and/or auction hall approved by competent authority.
  18. Ingredients: means a component part or a constituent of any combination or mixture, of a (commercial) feed/food.
  19. Labelling : shall mean any words, particulars, trademarks, brand name, or symbol relating to a foodstuff and placed on any packaging, document, notice, label, ring or collar accompanying or referring to such foodstuff
  20. Medicated feeding stuffs : means any mixture of a veterinary medicinal product or products and feed or feeds which is ready prepared for marketing and intended to be fed to animals without further processing, because of its curative or preventive properties or other properties as a medicinal product
  21. National Competent Authority: means the government authority to ensure compliance with the requirements of this guidelines or any other authority to which the government authority has delegated that power.
  22. Organoleptic evaluation : means the sensory evaluation to assess the quality parameters of fishery products such as their appearance, colour, smell, texture, weight, size etc
  23. Pharmacologically active substances: means any chemical or substance that affects the physiology, the function of the body of a human or animal. These substances can be artificial or natural, i.e. those created by the body in response to stimulation or injury
  24. Processing: means any action that substantially alters the initial product, including heating, smoking, curing, maturing, drying, marinating, extraction, extrusion or a combination of those processes.
  25. Pre-mixtures: means mixtures of feed additives or mixtures of one or more feed additives with feed materials or water used as carriers, not intended to direct feeding to animals.
  26. Prerequisite programs: – means procedures including Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) that address operational conditions providing the foundation for the HACCP system
  27. Risk analysis : means a process consisting of three inter connected components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication
  28. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP): means procedures that describe as to how routine operations such as receiving, storing, processing, labelling, shipping etc are to be conducted in such a way to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the product and food contact surfaces.
  29. Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP): means a set of procedures to establish a total sanitary environment in fish handling and processing areas, in order to control food safety hazards effectively.
  30. Traceability : means the ability to trace and follow a food, feed, food-producing animal or substance intended to be, or expected to be incorporated into a food or feed, through all stages of production, processing and distribution.
  31. Validation: means the element of verification focused on collecting and evaluating scientific and technical information to determine if the HACCP plan, when properly implemented, will effectively control the hazards.
  32. Withdrawal period : means period necessary between the last administration of the veterinary medicinal drugs to animals under normal conditions of use and the harvesting, in order to ensure that such foodstuffs do not contain residues in quantities in excess of the maximum permissible limits as specified in DOF Directive No 3/2009 dated03.04.2009
  1. ALS: Analytical Laboratory Section
  2. ASEAN : Association of Southeast Asian Nations
  3. CAR : Corrective Action Request
  4. DOF: Department of Fisheries
  5. DG SANCO: acronym of ‘Directorate General for Health and Consumer Protection’
  6. EC: European Commission
  7. FAO: Food and Agricultural Organisation
  8. FIQCD: Fish Inspection and Quality Control Division
  9. FSVPS: Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance
  10. GMP: Good Manufacturing Practices
  11. HACCP: Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
  12. ICS: Inspection and Certification Section
  13. NCA: National Competent Authority
  14. NRMP: National Residue Monitoring Plan
  15. OIE: Office of International Epizooties
  16. RMC: Residue Monitoring Committee
  17. WHO: World Health organisation
  18. WTO: World Trade Organisation