Trade and Markets
The health benefits of fish are widely publicised, but the healthy attributes of bivalve molluscs have not received the same attention. Consumers are not aware that consumption of bivalves has the same beneficial effects on health and well-being as fish that are high in omega-3s.
A lot of people still believe that tuna is just one single species. Hardly anyone knows that there are more than half a dozen “genuine” tuna species which differ in their biological properties and are fished to varying degrees. Not every tuna species is as threatened as bluefin tuna – the stock situation has to be considered separately for every marine region and every individual species.
Although in good years salmon production from global aquaculture is sometimes twice as high as the yield from salmon fishing, wild salmon is of course still very important on the world market. It benefits from its image of being a pure, natural product plus the fact that a lot of individual wild salmon fisheries are considered particularly sustainable. And that is precisely why Alaska’s withdrawal from the MSC programme is being received in many places with disapproval and incomprehension.
During the first half of 2012, supplies of sashimi grade tuna increased following good catches in the Indian Ocean, resulting in weaker auction prices in Japan. Yellowfin and albacore prices also fell in January as demand in southern Europe declined. Skipjack prices, however, have reached record highs.
Many small pelagic stocks are in good shape, but with variations from species to species. With higher landings expected for many operators, prices may suffer.
There seems to be a slightly better supply situation for octopus, so some easing of prices can be expected. Demand has been slower because of the generally difficult economic conditions, although Japan is now importing significantly larger volumes than last year. For squid, the supply situation might be tighter, and trade would then contract with higher prices. Cuttlefish supplies are still tight and prices are continuing on an upward trend.
The European fish processing industry is heavily reliant on raw materials imported from third countries. Almost two thirds of the total supply of fish to the EU is imported and for whitefish this figure is estimated to be close to 90%, according to the latest edition of the Finfish Study* produced by AIPCE-CEP, the European Fish Processors and Traders Association. The study analyses the importance of imported seafood for the European processing industry, showing how supply trends reflect increasing demand for value-added seafood in the EU.
Campaigns to increase seafood consumption in Peru, Brazil and Chile are expected to have a positive effect on artisanal fishermen and local communities who make a living from catching bivalve molluscs and in small-scale aquaculture and fisheries. They will also benefit aquaculture producers who are facing declining exports to the EU market.
The severe El Niño conditions forecast earlier in the year have been downgraded to neutral/weak for the Pacific basin and northern hemisphere winter of 2012-2013. However, reduced quotas and poor weather conditions for Peruvian fleets, combined with strong demand across the market, are likely to put upward pressure on fishmeal prices. Meanwhile, fish oil supply continues to stagnate, and soymeal and oilseed markets remain volatile.