The government of Pakistan lifted a ban on seafood exports to the European Union on Monday, following the implementation of recommendations by the EU for improvements in the quality and standard of exportable seafood, according to the Business Recorder newspaper.

"The government has lifted the ban on seafood exports to EU and informed the EU through a letter about the decision on Monday," the director of the General Marine Fisheries Department S Q Raza told the Business Recorder.

He said that decision had been taken after completion of the work required to meet EU commodity standards.

It is learnt that a Memorandum of Understanding has also been signed outlining the responsibilities of stakeholders of the seafood trade.

"In fact, it is the standard operating procedure to run the harbour, handling of seafood cargo, maintenance of hygienic conditions at the auction site," an official said.

This procedure has been formulated on the recommendations of United Nations Industrial Development Organisation after a series of workshops and thorough working to improve the seafood quality and standards at the harbour.

The exporters estimate a loss of $30m in earning due to the ban. "Now is the time to look forward and sustain the seafood export by ensuring quality and standard," a seafood exporter, Captain Ikhlaq Ahmed, said.

The big destinations of Pakistan's seafood in EU are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, UK and Greece.

Pakistan earned $52m from the EU alone out of total $156m through seafood export in 2003-04.