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The consultant visited Mozambique in June 1986 as part of the mission to formulate the continuation of MOZ/82/007 “Marine Fishery Training, Quality Control and Development” and was required to review the existing situation with regard to official fish inspection and quality control.

The development of the present Fish Inspection and Quality Control Service (FIQCS) and the contribution of the UNDP/FAO project towards its development are summarised.

The catch of shrimp is around 12 500 t/year of which around 10 000 t exported. Shrimp for export are caught by the state fleet of trawlers, joint venture trawlers, and licensed vessels. The shrimp are generally frozen, head-on at sea. The product from the state and the joint venture fleets is exported through the state enterprise PESCOM INTERNATIONAL. Frozen shrimp exports account for over 28% of Mozambiques export earnings.

The FIQCS is operated by the Institute of Fisheries Research within the Secretariat of State for Fisheries. Most of its activities are at Beira where it has an inspection laboratory. The laboratory is well equipped for the sensory, physical, chemical and microbiological testing of shrimp. Consignments of shrimp are sampled and tested by the laboratory though the export certificate is issued by the Ministry of Agriculture.

The objectives, organisation and procedures of the FIQCS are discussed. The immediate objectives of the Service as laid down in the project document have been met to a large extent. It is recommended that a follow-up be formulated. It is recommended that the FIQCS should be established as an organisation separate from the Institute of Fisheries Research and reporting directly to the Secretary of State for Fisheries.

It is recommended that the FIQCS should consolidate and formally document its procedures for the inspection, sampling, testing and certification of consignments of shrimp destined for export.



The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations is assisting the Government of Mozambique in a Marine Fishery Training, Quality Control and Development Project (MOZ/82/007). Mr. P. Howgate was retained as consultant to review the present situation with regard to inspection and quality control with the following terms of reference:

to review the present fish quality control and inspection system in the country with particular emphasis on shrimp designated for export;

to discuss with the Government necessary and possible changes aimed at improvement of the present situation.

The consultant was working within the framework of a formulation mission for the continuation of the Project and had special responsibility for the component on the country quality control programme.


The consultant visited Mozambique from 20 to 28 June 1986 as part of the formulation Mission and spent a day, 26 June, in Beira. His main contacts with respect to the review of fish inspection were:

Mr. J. Tenreiro de Almeida, Secretary of State for Fisheries,

Ms. Lidia Po, Director of the Institute for Fisheries Research

Ms. Luisa Arthur, Head of the Fish Inspection Laboratory, Beira

Mr. S. Basulto, FAO Project Coordinator,

Mr. A. Ripoll, Fish Inspection and Quality Control Expert

Mr. Ripoll travelled to Mozambique with the Mission to start his assignment with the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Service in Beira.


Some work for setting up a quality control organisation was carried out by Watanabe under the FAO/GCP/MOZ/006/SWE project but the specific requirements for fish inspection and quality control in Mozambique were reviewed by Andersen under project MOZ/77/001. He recommended that a Fish Inspection and quality Control Service (FIQCS) should be created in Mozambique and made proposals for its organisation, functions and operations. Provisions for establishing a service as proposed by Andersen were included in the UNDP-funded project MOZ/82/007, Phase II. The objective of this project relevant to fish inspection was stated as:

to establish an Inspection and Quality Control Service initially aimed at improving the quality of seafood for export, and the training of local technicians.

The Project provided for the services of a Fish Inspection and Quality Control expert. Mr. L. Limpus was first appointed to the post and served in Mozambique from February 1982 to March 1986 and he was followed by Dr. A. Ripoll, of the Uruguayan Fish Inspection Service, from June 1986 until the end of the current Project in December 1986.

The Project provided a study tour for Ms. Helena Motta to attend a course in Brazil on Inspection and Quality Control in Fish Products in November/December 1984. It also provided for staff of the Institute of Fisheries Research, including the FIQCS, to attend the FAO/DANIDA course in Fish Technology and Quality Control which was held in Luanda, Angola in May/June 1983. Equipment for the laboratory at Beira was purchased from the funds of the project.

A national training course in Fish Technology and Quality Control was held at the Fishery Training School, Matola, in September/October 1984.

The progress of the project, including the quality control component, was reviewed in December 1984.



Shrimp catches in Mozambique have fluctuated around the 12 000 t/year level during the 1980s with no marked trend, up or down, during this time. Four sectors of the fishing industry contribute to these catches. The state fleet is operated by the state enterprise EMOPESCA. There are joint ventures with Spain and Japan. The shrimp from the EMOPESCA and joint venture boats is exported through the state enterprise PESCOM INTERNATIONAL. Some vessels licensed to fish in Mozambican waters catch shrimp though this catch is exported directly and not through PESCOM INTERNATIONAL. In addition there is a small private fleet and an artisanal fishery for shrimp for domestic consumption. Table 1 shows the distribution of the catch - average landings for the 3 years 1983–1985 for these sectors.

Table 1. Landings of shrimp by sector of the fishing industry. Average annual catch over the 3 years 1983–1985

State enterprise, EMOPESCA760
Joint ventures5 060
Licensed3 950
Private companies and artisanal2 710
Total catch12 480

Most of the shrimp is caught in shallow waters, especially from the Sofala Bank, but around 2 000 t/year are caught by licensed vessels in deeper waters. It is reported that the Sofala Bank could support a fishery up to 15 000 t/year.


Shrimp for export and that which is inspected by the FIQCS comes from the EMOPESCA and joint venture fleets. A detailed description of handling and processing of shrimp on board EMOPESCA trawlers is provided in a report by Baietto, a consultant to the MOZ/82/007 project. A report on the handling of the shrimp bycatch also describes, in passing, the handling and processing of the shrimp catch. The consultant visited the Vessel “Mosala” in Beira harbour but did not observe the handling of shrimp at sea and the following summary account is based on the two reports just cited and on descriptions given to him during discussions in Mozambique. All the accounts referred to practices on board EMOPESCA vessels but they would be indicative for the joint venture vessels as well.

The EMOPESCA trawlers, of 20–30 m length, were built mostly in the early to middle 1970's. The Mosala is 30 m long and was built in 1983. There are about 27 vessels in the fleet but because of difficulties in getting spares, fuel and other provisions usually only half or so are operational at any time. The typical voyage lasts for 20–25 days with about 10 hours steaming time, each way, to and from the fishing ground. The EMOPESCA fleet completely, and, the joint venture vessels to a large extent, when fishing for shrimp, fish the Sofala Bank in about 10–20 m of water. The EMOPESCA vessels carry a crew of 17–23 of which 14 are involved in the handling and processing of the catch. This team consists of a technologist (“technologo”), a mate (“contramaestre”), a netsman (“redero”), 4 freezer tunnel operators and 7 fishermen. Some of these have other duties on the vessel; for example the mate takes over from the master as required.

After a trawl of about 4 hours, the cod end is emptied on the deck. The trawl will bring in 1–1.5 t of fish and shrimp. The proportion of shrimp varies with actual fishing ground but may only be around 10% of the catch. The processing team separates the catch into categories. The shrimp is sorted into 4 broad size grades, very large, large, medium and small, and the fish into 3 size grades.

The shrimp are washed in 20 kg lots in plastic boxes and then treated with sodium bisulphite solution containing 1.5 kg sodium bisulphite and 200 g of citric acid in 300 l of sea water. The shrimp are meant to be soaked in this solution for 15 minutes but Baietto reports that the time is very variable. One batch of solution is used to treat shrimp from 2 trawls - about 200 kg of shrimp.

The treated shrimp are transferred to a table for final size grading and packing. The larger shrimp includes Penaeus monodon, tiger shrimp, and Penaeus indicus which are packed separately where they overlap in size. The size grades are shown in Table 2. Damaged, discoloured or otherwise unsuitable shrimp are separated and frozen for non-export purposes.

Table 2. Size grades of whole shrimp for export from Mozambique

grade codeno. of shrimp in 1 kgweight of individual shrimp in 9.
TGless than 13more than 77
TMbetween 14 and 25 (Penaeus monodon)between 77 and 40
Kbetween 14 and 25 (Penaeus indicus)between 77 and 40
Qbetween 26 and 41between 40 and 25
Sbetween 42 and 60between 25 and 17
SSbetween 61 and 100between 17 and 10
SSSbetween 101 and 120between 10 and 8

The shrimp are packed into a 2-part waxed cardboard carton, base and lid, lined with a plastic film. The nominal weight of shrimp is 2 kg but 2 100 g are weighed into the carton base to allow for included wash water and for loss in weight during thawing. The film is folded over the contents and the lid put on. The boxes are then marked with the size grade.

The product is frozen in air blast freezers. The facilities in Mosala consist of 2 freezers, one on each side of the vessel. Each has a capacity of 180 packs, 360 kg, arranged on 2 banks of 10 trays in each bank. Each tray takes 9 packs to make a full load. The consultant was not able to get good information about the performance of these freezers in terms of air temperatures, freezing times and throughput though it was suggested to him that the equipment was unusually inefficient and freezing times were very long. It was also reported to him that if the freezing facilities were out of action the boxes of shrimp would be put into the cold store to freeze.

The cartons of frozen shrimp are packed into master cartons, usually 6 to a carton and stowed in the cold store. The EMOPESCA trawlers typically have cold stores which can hold 30–40 t of products though that of Mosala is larger with a capacity of 60 t. The stores should run at -20 degrees centigrade or lower. The EMOPESCA vessels return to port at Beira, Quelimane or Angoche where the frozen products are transferred to the cold stores on land. The Spanish joint venture vessels land their catch at Beira. The quality of the shrimp is checked during transfer from vessel to the cold store. At intervals the EMOPESCA frozen shrimp at Quelimane and Angoche is transferred, by ship, to the main stores at Beira.


Frozen shrimp are exported through the state enterprise PESCOM INTERNATIONAL. The total amount potentially available is the catch from the EMOPESCA fleet and the joint venture vessels, a little under 6 000 t/year. The amount recorded in the trade figure is markedly less than this, about 4 500 t/year, but the consultant did not get an explanation for this discrepancy. Some of the catch would not be suitable for export being damaged in some way or too small, but there does not seem to be data on the amount.

According to the figures for volume and value in the trade statistics, the average price realised for the shrimp is around US$6/kg. The main markets are France, Spain, Japan and South Africa. It is reported that shrimp is the largest single export commodity with regard to foreign currency earnings and accounts for over 28% of the value of exports.



The Secretariat of State for Fisheries has responsibility for all matters concerning fisheries. Within the Secretariat there are the Instituto de Investigacao Pesquera (IIP) and the Fisheries Research Institute, responsible for research and development in fishing, fish culture, and fish processing. The FIQCS is a function of the IIP and arose as an extension of the Department of Fish Technology.

The main activitis of the FIQCS are in Beira where there is a laboratory headed by Ms. Luisa Arthur. Any requirement for inspection and quality control in Maputo is dealt with by the staff of the IIP in Maputo; there is no separate fish inspection laboratory there.


Almost all the exported shrimp is shipped through Beira and a laboratory has been established there to deal with inspection and quality control of exported fisheries products. The laboratory is conveniently situated near to, but not at, the port and the laboratory has a vehicle for transporting samples. The various rooms are all on one floor and include laboratories for sensory and physical, for microbiological, and for chemical testing of shrimp. The microbiological laboratory has a separate media preparation room. There is a lecture room which includes the library, and offices.

The chemical laboratory is well equipped for the analysis of the composition of fish products and for carrying out tests like Total Volatile Base (TVB) content for measuring the quality of shrimp. The microbiological laboratory too is well equipped with incubators, water baths and other apparatus for all the microbiological analyses that are likely to be required in the inspection and quality control of fish products. The laboratory for physical inspection has a long tiled bench with a sink for thawing and laying out the samples and balances for measuring the total weight of packs and of individual shrimp for checking grades. Shrimp are cooked for sensory testing by heating them in closed bottles in a hot water bath. The laboratories have a generous supply of freezer cabinets and refrigerators for storing samples.

There is a total staff of 18. Ms. Arthur, the Head of the Laboratory, is a graduate and the other technical staff are at the medium level educational standard. The technical staff include analysts working in the laboratories and inspectors who are associated with inspection and quality control. There are 3 ancillary staff including a driver.


When PESCOM INTERNATIONAL receives an export order and assembles the consignment from EMOPESCA shrimp stocks in the cold stores at the harbour, they transfer it to their own cold store. While doing so, the frozen products is checked for visible defects and some control on weight is carried out. The consignment, as designated by PESCOM, is then sampled by the FIQCS.

A consignment usually amounts to 20 tonnes - though occasionally much larger consignments are assembled - and will usually include shrimp from all the sized grades listed in Table 1. One 2 kg pack is taken from each size grade for microbiological analysis. For investigative purposes only, further samples are taken for testing for physical defects and size grade. The number of samples taken for this physical testing is determined from the Tables in the Codex Alimentarius sampling plans.

The samples for microbiological analysis are routinely tested for total plate count and for E. coli count, (Most Probable Number). The FIQCS includes testing for Vibrio cholera, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and Salmonella in its specifications but it seems that only the Cholera and parahaemolyticus organisms are routinely tested for. Chemical analyses include TVB, pH and sulphite content. The sensory and physical testing is carried out according to the requirements of the Codex Alimentarius standard for frozen shrimp or prawns.

A simple report is prepared listing the results of the microbiological and chemical analyses and the overall results, satisfactory or unsatisfactory, of the sensory and physical testing. The report is submitted to the office of the Ministry of Agriculture which, if the results are satisfactory, issues a certificate stating the consignment is suitable for export.


Only a small amount of shrimp is exported through Maputo. The procedure for sampling and inspection is essentially the same as that in Beira using staff from the IIP. The Institute has a small chemical laboratory but not facilities for microbiological analyses. Testing of the shrimp samples is carried out in the laboratories of the Veterinary Service and the Ministry of Health.


The Service is in the process of developing “Nucleos de Control de Qualidad” (NCQ) at the 3 landings sites: Beira, Quelimane and Angoche. These groups have been set up in the enterprises in these ports and will be ultimately responsible for inspecting frozen shrimp when it is discharged from the catching vessels and for promoting good handling and processing practices at sea in order to achieve and maintain high standards of quality. Personnel of the NCQ's have been trained by staff at the Beira laboratory and by the FAO experts. The Service has produced standards and manuals for the handling and processing of shrimp at sea for use by the NCQ's.



The objective of project MOZ/82/007 in respect of quality control, cited in section 2 above, has substantially been met. A service for the inspection and quality control of fish products has been established and priority has been given to improving the quality of seafood for export. The FIQCS operates a testing laboratory in Beira which is now routinely testing consignments of shrimp intended for export and the Service has also promoted good handling and processing practices on board fishing vessels. The results of these activities has been a reduction in the amount of defective product being exported. A team of technicians has been assembled and trained in procedures for the inspection, testing and quality control of frozen shrimp.

There are still loose ends to be tidied up with respect to the inspection, testing and certification of exported shrimp - they are discussed in a later section but thee is no doubt that the Service now has a sound base for further development. The Service has a first nucleus of trained personnel and at Beira has a laboratory with sufficient equipment, and space, for expansion of its work. It is perhaps a suitable time for taking stock of its operations and considering the medium and long term goals of the Service.

The immediate objectives of the UNDP/FAO project had to be limited to what could be achieved within the lifetime of the project and quite correctly concentrated on the quality of exported shrimp; a longer term objective would be to extend the operations of the FIQCS to a wider range of products. It is relevant to reproduce here the objectives of the FIQCS as recommended by Andersen in 1982:

  1. to assist the fishing industry in improving the quality of fish and fish products, and thereby contributing to the development of the fishing industry as a whole;

  2. to protect the health of the consumers by ensuring the safety of fish and fish products produced in Mozambique, or imported;

  3. to prevent fraud and deception in the fish trade and ensure that fair practises are observed in the trade;

  4. to create confidence in the quality of fish and fish products of Mozambique among consumers, including consumers in export markets, thereby contributing to establishing a good reputation for fish products of Mozambique.

The consultant agrees with these as being the long term objectives of a national quality assurance programme for fishery products. They are typical objectives of any fish inspection service but perhaps their balance is not entirely appropriate to the present situation in Mozambique. The present, limited, resources of material and of skilled manpower in the IIP must be directed towards increasing the amount of fish available to the consumer and what can be devoted to quality control must, in the immediate term, be directed towards improving and controlling the quality of exported fish products. Nevertheless, fish makes a very important contribution to the diet of the people of Mozambique and it must remain an objective of a national quality assurance programme to improve and control the quality of fish available for consumption within the country.

The consultant recommends that the Secretariat of State for Fisheries defines objectives for the FIQCS which can be used in formulating a policy for the development of the existing Service at a national level.


The FIQCS is established within the organisation of the Institute of Fisheries Research, IIP, and the Director of the IIP also acts as Director of the FIQCS. It is quite natural and correct that the IIP should have played a large part in establishing the FIQCS. Expertise in handling and processing of fish resided within the IIP and that body was in the best position to absorb and utilise external technical aid and support. This strategy has been successful and the Service is operating at a high level of technical ability. However, the IIP has had to develop the FIQCS at the expense of its research and development programme in fish technology.

Andersen in his report on quality control and fish inspection recommended that the FIQCS should be established within the Secretariat of State for Fisheries with its own organisation and with a Director reporting to the Secretary of State for Fisheries. The consultant strongly supports the recommendation. The functions of the FIQCS are quite distinct from and not the same as those of an Institute for Fisheries Research. It is quite right that the Institute be involved in initiating the Service (as was envisaged by Andersen), but once it has been established on a routine basis, the Institute should be released of any responsibility for operating it. The size of the FIQCS now in terms of personnel and resources, without consideration of future developments, warrants having its own structure within the Secretariat of State for Fisheries.

The legal status of the FIQCS with regard to enforcing compulsory inspection of exported products is rather vague. It should be a legal requirement that fisheries products must be inspected before shipment and only those complying with the appropriate standard can be exported. Again Andersen made proposals to this effect and in fact the Project Document for MOZ/82/007 alludes to the FIQCS being a compulsory national service but leaves it for a decision by Government.

The consultant recommends that the Secretariat of State for Fisheries reviews the status of the FIQCS as an official institution and considers issuing regulations which will put the Service on a legal basis with the power to issue export licenses in its own right.


A fish inspection service requires a variety of documents in order to carry out its functions correctly. It is obvious that it must have standards of quality for those products which will be inspected, tested and approved for export. Standards have been drawn up by the FIQCS for testing frozen shrimp by the NCQ's at the enterprises though these are still marked provisional. The standard for consignments intended for export is based on the Codex Alimentarius recommended standard with additions to include microbiological specifications and chemical tests which are not included in the Codex standard.

The procedures for inspecting and sampling batches of shrimp and the laboratory procedures for testing the samples must be codified and written down. There must be clear written instructions on how the results of laboratory analyses are to be compared with the provisions of the standards and on how a decision is to be made as to whether or not an export certificate is to be granted. If the FIQCS is put on an official, regulatory basis then these procedures for sampling, testing and certification, along with the standards, become part of the regulations governing the operations of the Service.

The FIQCS should now concentrate on consolidating its standards and operating procedures with a view to making them official documents. The FAO expert on fish inspection assigned to the project should assist in this task.


1 Watanabe, K. 1983 Mozambique, Development in Fish Technology. A report prepared for the Research and Development of Inland Fisheries Project. FAO/GCP/MOZ/006/SWE. Field Document 7.

2 Andersen, V.S. 1982 Mozambique. Quality Control and Fish Inspection Organisation. A reported prepared for the Marine Fishery Training and Development Project. MOZ/77/001. Field Document 5.

3 Jensen, J.G. 1985 Mozambique. Development of Fish Technology (Part 2). A report prepared for the Research and Development of Inland Fisheries. GCP/MOZ/006/SWE.

4 Labon, A; Thomson, D.B; Blessich, D. 1984 Mozambique. Marine Fishery Training, Quality Control and Development. Report of evaluation mission, Dec. 1984. MOZ/82/007.

5 Baietto, C.F.S. 1984 Mozambique. Descripcion de la pesca del camaron y proceso a bordo de las embarcaciones de EMOPESCA. MOZ/82/007.

6 Merritt, J. & Fraser, D. Retention of shrimp bycatch. A study for the Government of Mozambique. Canadian Institute of Fisheries Technology and Canadian Fishery Consultants Ltd., Halifax, Canada.

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