Scientists and industry representatives from 16 countries gathered in Tromsø, Norway in the middle of June to launch a new EU-funded project, AquaVitae. The 36 project partners are from European countries as well as Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, and North America.
China’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister, Han Changfu confirmed that China has remained the world's largest exporter of aquatic products for 17 consecutive years with exports having exceeded 20 billion US dollars (18 billion EUR). More than 97 percent of products live up to standards according to a market monitoring report, the minister mentioned at a symposium according to ChinaDaily.
Modern technological advances continue apace in the seafood industry. Recently, an unmanned, remote-controlled vessel carried a shipment of British oysters from the UK, to Belgium, in an international trade first.
Carrying five kg of oysters, the 12-meter ship’s 22-hour trip across busy shipping lanes was directed from a control room in Maldon and was supported by the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Department for Transport, the Foreign Office, officials in Belgium and the European Space Agency.
Danish processor Boco Seafood, produces salted cod and processes ling, saithe, and Alaska pollock in its two factories, one in Denmark and the other in Portugal.
However, Boco Seafood recently announced the closure of its Danish factory, citing high costs of cod, mostly imported from Norway. The costs of Atlantic and Pacific cod, available from the US, are coming down, the company said, and its Portugal factory will remain open.
Following a revision in the way mackerel stocks are measured by scientists, the 2019 harvest quota for the Norwegian mackerel fishery more than doubled from the level set late last year.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) sets European fishery quotas after an assessment of stock size. New calculations have led ICES scientists to raise the stock size estimate from 2,35 million tonnes to 4,2 million tonnes, enabling a quota increase by 450.000 tonnes to the new level of 770.358 tonnes.
In March 2019, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) revoked its certification of the Norwegian mackerel fishery, and fishermen are hopeful that ICES’s new, larger quota will induce MSC to reinstate the fishery’s certification.
The International Conference “Aquaculture Today & Tomorrow” that took place in Verona on May 16-17 was organised by EUROFISH in collaboration with the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry Policies and Tourism, and the Italian Fish Farmers Association (API). The conference hosted 22 speakers in 4 sessions covering the current status and challenges of the aquaculture sector and how to realize its potential. Sustainable aquaculture practices and innovative solutions were also presented along with how to expand the farmed seafood market. Over 100 participants from 28 countries visited the event which featured a visit to fish farm Agroittica Lombarda, the 3rd largest caviar producer in the world. The programme and presentations are available at: www.eurofish.dk/att.
Norwegian cod exports have exceeded $1 billion for the second year in a row, even as volume declined. In 2018, Norway’s exports of cod grew by 6% over 2017, to $110 million. Volume, however, fell by 9% to 186.170 tonnes. A large increase in average unit value, up by 18% to $4,20 per kg in 2018, sustained the rise in export value.
The largest product components in Norway’s cod exports were H&G whole cod, in fresh or frozen forms, which accounted for 32% and 28%, respectively of total export volume. Also important were dried cod (21%), cod salted or in brine (12%), and frozen cod fillets (6%).
Almost a third of Norway’s cod exports went to Portugal, mainly dried, salted cod in brine, valued at $322 million. Denmark was Norway’s second largest market, purchasing$165 million, mostly whole fresh cod. China accounted for $103 million in Norwegian exports, such as whole frozen cod.
Denmark has been advised by the International Council for the Exploration (ICES) to reduce its total sandeel quotas for the 2019 season. ICES recommended reductions over the majority of fishing areas, however some quotas were increased. The biggest reductions occurred in the central and southern North Sea and Dogger Bank, which are key fishing areas. Quotas fell from 134,461 tonnes to 91,916 tonnes. Other areas affected are the northern and central North Sea (divisions 4.a-b) with cuts from 59,345 tonnes to the monitoring levels of 5,000 tonnes. Levels for divisions 4.b-c and subdivision 20, sandeel area 2r (central and southern North Sea) are to remain at monitoring levels of 5,000 tonnes. Areas where the advice recommended an increase in quotas are in the northern and central North Sea and Skagerrak and the advice increased quotas from 108,365 tonnes to 133,610 tonnes.
A new study claims that the EU will not reach its 2020 goal of sustainably caught fish, as EU ministers continue allowing catches higher than the recommended limits set by scientists. The New Economics Foundation (NEF), an NGO based in the UK, claims that the 2019 TACs for nearly half of EU commercial fish species were set higher than the scientific advice. They found that 55 TAC’s were set above recommended levels equating to approximately 312,000 tonnes in excess catch. The Northeast Atlantic TACs were on average set 16% above scientific advice, an increase of 9% from 2018. Early negotiations for the Baltic Sea and deep sea TACs are currently set higher than expert advice.
NEF found that Sweden was the leading country with a little over 50% of all their TACs set higher than that of scientific advice for the Northeast Atlantic fishing region, with the UK and Ireland following at 24% and 22%, respectively. In terms of excess volume, the UK, Denmark, and Ireland were the worst perpetrators with 106,925, 49,914, and 34,052 tonnes, respectively. The study further explains that this overfishing has resulted in Ireland’s mackerel MSC-certification being suspended, affecting not only Ireland, but Norway and the Faroe Islands. Finally, the study believes that if EU fishing waters were managed correctly and damaged fishing stocks were rebuilt, while other stocks were fished at maximum sustainable yield, the full potential of this industry could be reached within one generation.
European seas are a hub of human activities that can influence each other. Maritime transport, for one, is so widespread that it inevitably affects sectors working in, on, or with the ocean. Now, for the first time, those responsible for monitoring shipping emissions, identifying the best routes to lay pipelines and cables, assessing the impact of fishing on the seafloor, or planning offshore wind farms can have free and open access to maps and the underlying raster files of vessel activity. The EMODnet Human Activities team has developed a bespoke method for developing vessel density maps, in close consultation with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). The new EMODnet digital vessel density maps allow users to visualise vessel movement patterns and the distribution of maritime traffic in European waters. The service provides access to monthly composite maps by ship type. Information coming from the new EMODnet digital vessel density maps will supplement the thematic and sectoral assessments of the European Environment Agency.
Maps are available free of charge for viewing, downloading, processing, and using for commercial and non-commercial purposes alike from the EMODnet Human Activities portal. "Vessel density maps have been around for quite a while, but this EMODnet data product is different. In addition to being 100% free, it offers comprehensive and regularly updated digital maps that can be used without restriction. That’s great value for (no) money for users,” explained Alessandro Pititto from COGEA, Coordinator of EMODnet Human Activities. Density is expressed as the number of hours spent by ships in a square kilometre over a month. Data are collected from Automatic Identification System (AIS) receivers that track and transmit the location of the ships’ on-board transponders. On the EMODnet vessel density maps, a colour gradient makes it possible to quickly distinguish whether an area is characterised by high or low shipping traffic. Traffic is broken down by ship types: cargo, dredging or underwater operations, high-speed craft, fishing, military and law enforcement, passenger, pleasure craft, sailing, service, tanker, tug and towing, other, unknown.