A number of prominent seafood shows and events have been cancelled or postponed due to the spreading fear of the coronavirus. The virus, officially named COVID-19, which emerged in the south east Chinese city of Wuhan was initially thought to have been contained within the country but has since showed a spread to most parts of the world with South Korea, Iran, and Italy hit particularly hard. Diversified Communications announced that the Seafood Expo North America, or the Boston Seafood Show’, taking place in mid-March would be postponed to, hopefully, later in 2020 as health, safety, travel restrictions, and logistics would be a concern. The announcement was followed some days later by another postponing their other show, the world’s biggest seafood event, Seafood Expo Global, to a date to be announced on 18 March (after Eurofish Magazine went to press). The Aquafeed Horizons 2020 conference taking place at the end of March and INFOFISH’s biannual event, World Tuna, at the end of May, both taking place in Bangkok have also been cancelled. The Regional Fisheries Conference ‘Market Opportunities and Challenges’ to be held in Gdynia at the end of March, organised by EUROFISH and the Polish Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation has also been postponed. Hopefully the seafood economy will recover rapidly from these setbacks and make up for lost opportunities as the threat of the virus recedes.
The Spanish Fisheries Confederation, CEPESCA, has requested the Spanish government to ensure the European Union defends its interests, primarily allowing the Spanish fleet to access the UK waters of the UK and, secondly, to maintain reciprocal access to markets. The Spanish fleet catches around 29,000 tonnes in the Northeast Atlantic of which 9 000 tonnes are caught in UK waters primarily hake, megrim and monkfish worth around €27m. Although these catches only account for 1% of total Spanish catches and far from, for example, Sweden’s 60%, they are essential for shipowners from Galicia, Asturia and Cantabria. Currently, the 88 Spanish-flagged vessels that can fish in the UK waters employ 2,150 crew members and generate around 10,750 indirect jobs.
The Common Maritime Agenda for the Black Sea is a networking event for stakeholders where significant projects for the region can be identified. The event had its first meeting in February, where representatives from the seven member countries (Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine) met in Sofia and discussed issues including marine litter, protection against pollution of marine resources, sustainable shipping and digital connectivity. The activity is supported by organisations like the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC), the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the Commission for the protection of the Black Sea against pollution, as well as the WWF and the Black Sea Trade and Development Bank. The next steps include identifying thematic priorities as well as planning high level events and regional workshops that will be held in the second half of 2020.
The European Parliament held a stakeholder meeting on the current challenges facing the aquaculture sector, with emphasis on production. The speakers included fish farmers representing marine aquaculture in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean to pond farming in the Czech Republic, with additional experts from Hungary, Belgium, and Croatia.
Dr. Halasi-Kovács of the NAIK Research Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Hungary underlined in his presentation, the potential of freshwater aquaculture. Presenting some general trends in the EU, he said, 85% of aquaculture production originates from marine sources while only 12 percent is from freshwater production. Production from pond aquaculture has not grown in the last decade within the EU, although globally freshwater aquaculture production constitutes 60 percent of total farmed fish production, while marine production contributes less than 30 percent.
Luis Planas, the Spanish Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, has stated that an alternative will be found for the transportation of Mauritanian fish to Spain. Last year this freight suffered delays and losses due to the blockage of the only road from Mauritania to the north by Sahrawi activists. Mr Planas visited the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott to negotiate with the Mauritanian authorities regarding problems related to the renewal of the Euro-Mauritanian fishing agreement.
A new product from Flow Water Technologies, the FlowSafe DCD 2000, provides fishing vessels with limitless disinfectant and drinking water eliminating the need for plastic-bottled drinking water and additional chemicals. The unit can be scaled up for cleaning and sanitising any size of vessel by producing an unlimited amount of sustainable disinfectant. The unit also produces a limitless supply of drinking water using a commercial level pre-filtration in front of an ultra-filtration system, eradicating plastic bottles and the CO2 footprint caused by them. Our ambition was to create a unit that helped reduce the use of plastics at sea to save the environment while ensuring the health and safety of people working at sea remained paramount, said Mark Hadfield, CEO of Flow Water Technologies.
The UK wants a trade agreement like the one the EU has with Canada and will consider walking away from negotiations for want of progress. Boris Johnson specified that the UK wants “regulatory freedom” from the EU and will not accept the European Court of Justice (ECJ) playing a role in dispute mediations. The British government said it wanted to reach “the broad outline” of an agreement by June, with the goal of finalising the agreement by September. And if not enough progress had been made by June, it would “need to decide whether the UK’s attention should move away from negotiations and focus solely on continuing domestic preparations to exit the transition period in an orderly fashion”. If this is the case the UK would leave on WTO terms at the end of 2020. While the EU wants some degree of governing alignment the UK wants to be open to set its own rules and did not acknowledge the need for a “level playing field” regarding competition. The UK’s negotiating mandate wants an independent agreement on fisheries that would grant annual negotiations on access to each other’s waters, including total allowable catch and shares while the EU wants fishing to be part of the whole agreement.
Low quotas over several years due to a critical decline in cod and herring stocks challenge both commercial and recreational fisheries financially with declining revenues and fewer angler tourists fishing for cod. Representatives from the business community, the research establishment, municipalities, green organisations, and politicians are being gathered by the Danish government to lay the groundwork for an action plan for future fisheries in the Baltic Sea. Although fishing pressure has eased considerably since 2000 and quotas are the lowest in many years, cod and herring stocks in the Baltic have declined to the point where the future of fishing in the Baltic Sea is uncertain.
Helping small-scale fishers promotes Blue Growth
This article featured in EUROFISH Magazine 1 2020
The project Adri.SmArtFish unites Italian and Croatian regions of the northern Adriatic, together with two pre-eminent research centres and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Croatia, in an effort to promote sustainability, innovation and co-creation (the collaborative development of value using customers, suppliers etc.) in small-scale fisheries (SSF) policy-making while preserving marine resources and local traditions and enhancing the competitiveness of small-scale fishermen through cross-border cooperation.
The General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) is launching a university devoted to small-scale fisheries (SSF). The SSF University will offer free workshops and training courses to small-scale fishers and fish workers across the Mediterranean and Black Sea region. Small-scale fishers represent 84 percent of the total regional fishing fleet and 60% of total onboard jobs. Yet despite the important role of SSF in the region, small-scale fishers often fail to be engaged in the decision-making processes. The governments of the region recognized the need to promote their access to financial resources, and facilitate education and training opportunities. To respond to these challenges, the GFCM has teamed up with the World Wide Fund for Nature, the Low Impact Fishers of Europe, the European Network of Women in Fisheries and Aquaculture, Petra Patrimonia, and LOQUS, as well as relevant FAO projects and sub regional and country offices, to offer a wide variety of courses on topics such as ecosystem friendly gears, fishing tourism, the legislative basis for SSF governance, starting a fisher association, etc. In 2020, fifteen courses are foreseen to take place in more than 11 countries, targeting representatives of SSF organizations, fishers and fish workers active in the sector.