Wakame, a popular edible seaweed, has been farmed for over 1,000 years, and has long been used in a number of popular dishes in Korea and Japan. It is a main ingredient of seaweed salads, popular in sushi restaurants around the world. Due to its low calorie and high nutrient content many consider it to be a superfood. The marine seaweed farm operated by Gijang Sustainable Seaweed Network, based in Gijang, in the south-eastern part of South Korea, grows wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), which is dried, processed, and then sold for human consumption around the world. The main destinations are China, Japan, the US, Germany, Scandinavia, and the UK. Gijang is the second producer to be certified against the ASC-MSC seaweed standard, after Japanese Euglena Co.but is the first marine farm to qualify for certification.
Maine is undoubtedly the most productive lobster fishing state in the United States and catches has been high for the last few years. This year, however, Maine’s lobster catch is well behind last year’s, with only a few weeks left of the fishing season. Fishermen had landed less than 50 million pounds (~ 22 thousand tonnes) of lobster in Maine at the end of September, according to the Portland Press Herald. Compared to the total landings during the same period last year that is 40 percent less, and nearly 40 percent off the five-year average. Pat Keliher, Commissioner of the state’s Department of Marine Resources stated that some of the decline could be attributed to lobsters shedding their shells late in the year. The lobster catch typically picks up when many lobsters lose their old shells and reach legal size.
Well over 14,000 visitors attended the 26th edition of DanFish, an event dedicated to the international fishing industry and held at the Aalborg Congress & Culture Centre in northern Denmark. Held every two years the event this year boasted over 400 exhibitors from 30 countries and visitors from 50 including Norway, the US, and China. Demand for stand space was so strong that the organisers expanded the available area to include, for the first time ever, the lowest floor of the centre, which could accommodate 44 stands. Interest in DanFish stems not least from the fact that Denmark is an important fishing nation and among the world’s biggest exporters of fish and seafood. Denmark is also an important platform for the trade in certain high value commodities, such as northern prawn (Pandalus borealis), and has a reputation for high quality technical solutions for the fishing industry.
Protests continue to pack the streets in Chile, triggered by a relatively small increase in subway fares in mid-October. During the unrest, salmon production has dropped substantially due to blockades and curfews that prevent people and supplies reaching production sites. SalmonExpert Chile reports how protesters continue to block access routes to Quellón, a hub for aquaculture and fisheries in southern Chile. Trucks transporting supplies like feed have been denied access to farms jeopardising the lives of 800 thousand fish that have not been fed for more than a week. Thirty thousand salmon are already reported dead and without the possibility of dealing with these mortalities, health risks due to high bacteriological levels will only aggravate the situation. A spokeswoman for the National Coordinator of the Salmon Industry and Related Branches stresses that these mortalities will cause immense pollution in the Quellón Bay, forcing companies in the area to move their fish to other sites and threatening the future of labour for the seafood industry in Quellón. Estimates say that production capacity is down about 50% and prices for salmon have increase at least 22%.
Ahead of the Council meeting on Fisheries taking place in mid-December, the Commission has adopted its proposal for fishing opportunities, the Total Allowable Catches (TACs), in 2020 for 72 stocks in the Atlantic and the North Sea. Quotas for 32 stocks will increase or remain the same, while 40 stocks will have their quota reduced. The quotas are set for most commercial fish stocks at levels that maintain or restore them to health, while allowing the industry to take the highest amount of fish. The proposal follows advice from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES). Sustainable fishing has made substantial progress in the EU: in 2019, 59 stocks are being fished at Maximum Sustainable Yield levels, up from 53 in 2018 and compared to only 5 in 2009, meaning that the fishing pressure on the stocks is limited to a level that will allow a healthy future for the fish stocks' biomass, while taking into account socio-economic factors. As the size of some key fish stocks is increasing – for instance, haddock in the Celtic Sea and sole in the Bristol Channel – so has the European fishing sector’s profitability which will reach an estimated €1.3 billion in 2019.
Serious shortcomings exist in the mechanisms that Ecuador has put in place to ensure compliance with its international fishing obligations according the European Commission. The legal framework in place in the country is outdated and not in line with international and regional rules for the conservation and management of fishing resources, and law enforcement is hampered by this outdated legal framework. In addition, inefficient administrative procedures and a lenient attitude towards infringements means the sanctions regime is neither depriving the offenders from the benefits gained from IUU fishing, nor deterring it. Deficiencies in terms of control, notably over the activity of the tuna fishing and processing industries, undermine the reliability of the traceability system upon which the certification of the legality of the catches is based.
US President Donald Trump has decided to suspend trade preferences for Thailand's seafood industry following the country’s failure to improve worker rights amid allegations of the use of slave labour and trafficking among its migrant workforce. All Thai seafood products will lose their eligibility for duty-free imports under the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme, which is estimated to be worth USD 1.3 billion, according to Bloomberg News, due to longstanding workers’ rights issues in the seafood and shipping industries. The suspension will be implemented at the end of April 2020. Other items losing duty-free preferences include fruits and vegetables, garment products and electrical appliances.
The European Commission has adopted a proposal offering support from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund to fishermen affected by the closure of the Eastern Baltic cod fishery to permanently decommission their fishing vessels. Cod fisheries is important in the Eastern Baltic Sea, but the stock is in very poor shape. At the Council meeting in mid-October, fisheries ministers agreed on a Commission proposal to reduce fishing possibilities in 2020 to almost zero. While this step is necessary to give the stock a chance to recover, it also means severe and unavoidable economic hardship for the fleets and fishing communities traditionally fishing this stock.
A new testing platform, developed by Norway-based Orivo in collaboration with BioMar, makes use of advanced DNA-technology. The test determines the species composition of marine ingredients with a high level of precision, able to detect the presence of even very small amounts of DNA. BioMar believes that DNA-testing of marine ingredients in the aquaculture industry is a natural answer to the demand from customers and stakeholders for improved transparency and traceability throughout the seafood value chain.
A social agenda for the artisanal fishing sector was presented by the Undersecretariat of Fisheries and Aquaculture (SUBPESCA), as part of a package of measures put together by the government to create a more equitable society in Chile. The initiative consists of nine actions that will directly benefit the artisanal sector along Chile's 6,435 km coastline with an estimated investment of USD600 million (ca. EUR543 million). All the measures will be initiated by the end of the year. The actions have been developed with the assistance of the National Institute for Sustainable Development of Artisanal Fisheries and the Organisation of Small-scale Aquaculture (Indespa), both of which will have a key role in the implementation of some of the initiatives. The initiatives include providing support for aging fishermen, creating a registry of artisanal fisheries though which fishermen can draw on support, solar powered desalination plants that will allow the opening of restaurants and other tourist businesses, financing for algae growing and for small fish farms, value-adding initiatives, the promotion of seafood consumption, and the creation of a school for fishermen with free training programmes for those working in the artisanal fishing sector.