By Godwin Oritse
THE Norwegian Government through its Minister of Fisheries and Ocean Policy, Hon. Bojmar Skjaran, has called on the Nigerian government to remove stockfish from the list of the 43 items that were restricted from accessing foreign exchange. Speaking at the sensitization and awareness seminar on food safety organized by the Norwegian Seafood Council in Lagos, Skjaran said that the inclusion of stock fish on the list has made it more difficult for both Nigerian importers and Norwegian exporters to trade in the commodity.
According to him, stock fish is an important part of the businesses and culture of Norwegians, adding that the trade in the commodity dates back more than a 100 years.
He stated: “There is a growing demand for stock fish in Nigeria. However, we do have some challenges; the main one is the inclusion of stock fish on the list of items that are restricted from accessing foreign exchange which has made it more expensive for both importers and consumers of stock fish.
“In recent months, the situation has grown from bad to worse and the fish industry has reconfirmed the fact that stock fish prices may increase. There are many reasons why stock fish should be removed from list of items with foreign exchange restriction.
Norwegian stock stockfish is a unique product that can only be produced in a special climate that is only present in Northern Norway. “Secondly the Norwegian government is not in competition with locally produced fish in Nigeria. Norwegian stock fish is a good source of protein; it contains 80 percent of protein requirement of the consumers; it is low in fat.
“The Norwegian government will continue to work with the Nigerian government with a view to removing it from the list of items restricted from accessing foreign exchange.”
Similarly, the Norwegian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Lein Knut, said that the Nigerian government need to remove stock fish from the list.
“We think stock fish should get access to Forex, we need better logistics in the ports of Nigeria, lower import taxes and less bureaucracy” he stated.