Global small pelagics landings expected to grow seven percent in 2017

EM5 17 TM Small pelagics Grethe Hillersoey Norwegian Seafood CouncilGlobal landings of small pelagics are expected to grow by seven percent in 2017 compared with 2016. The major reason for this growth is an expected higher catch of Peruvian anchovy. Catches of Atlantic mackerel and Atlantic herring are also expected to increase.

The combined increase for herring and mackerel landings in 2017 is expected to be about 4 percent more than in 2016. This could put some pressure on prices, but since the increase is relatively modest, no dramatic price changes are expected. Instead, exchange rates may play a greater role in price determination.

National authorities try to ensure adequate mackerel landings

The Scottish Fisheries Minister has decided to withhold 12 percent of the country’s 2017 mackerel quota pending an analysis of how much mackerel is landed in Scotland. According to the Minister, a significant part of the Scottish catch is landed in other countries, and he wants to change this. Although the Norwegians are calling this action “protectionist”, they are familiar with the problem, as they also want adequate amounts of raw mackerel material for their shore-based industry. Norwegian authorities are pressing for Norwegian vessels to land their catch in Norway, but they also want other nations to land in Norway to provide raw material for the on-shore processing industry.

East Asia is emerging as a major market for frozen mackerel. China, Japan and the Republic of Korea together traded 595,000 tonnes of frozen mackerel in 2016. The species traded in Asia include both cheap Pacific mackerel and the more expensive European (Atlantic) mackerel. By value, the three Asian countries together imported as much as 54.3 percent of Norwegian mackerel in 2016. Other important markets for frozen Norwegian mackerel were the Netherlands (11.1 percent of total), Nigeria (4.2 percent) and Turkey (3 percent).  

In Peru, the Ministry of Production set the horse mackerel quota for 2017 at 100,000 tonnes, which is an increase of 7.5 percent compared with 2016 and the anchovy quota in the central and northern area at 2.8m tonnes, 55% higher than in 2016. At the same time, Chile has increased its horse mackerel quota by 1 percent to 300,000 tonnes. While in Peru most of the horse mackerel caught goes for direct human consumption, in Chile, the horse mackerel is filleted and frozen, with large amounts of cut-offs processed into fishmeal. 

New Zealand annually catches about 36,000 to 50,000 tonnes of horse mackerel, and much of this (about half) ends up in the Japanese market. The main fishing period runs from December to January, and then again in June. Japanese consumers prefer the larger sizes, and in 2017, prices have increased by about 15 percent compared with last year, mainly due to tighter supplies.

In the beginning of January, the Norwegian herring fishery was well under way, and during the first week alone, landings amounted to 17,300 tonnes. Large catches have continued with the Directorate of Fisheries warning that there is a danger of nets bursting due to the large amounts of fish. Good catches of herring, though with a significant amount of small fish, put pressure on prices at the beginning of the year. The Norwegian minimum price for herring has been reduced several times already. On 22 February, the minimum prices were reduced to between NOK4.18 (EUR0.45) for Group 5 (125 g and less per piece) and NOK6.28 for Group 1 (350 g and more per piece).

Norwegian capelin fishers were reporting strong but varying catches off Iceland at the beginning of the year. Prices to fishers were high, between NOK6.80–7.49 per kg. This is considerably more than what was paid last year, when first-hand prices varied between NOK3.00–4.00. According to fishers, the capelin is of good size and quality. The total capelin quota in Icelandic waters was recently increased by 57,000 tonnes to 299,000 tonnes. Iceland’s quota is 196,000 tonnes, up from 100,000 in 2016, while the Norwegian quota is 40,000 tonnes in these waters. In the Barents Sea, there is no capelin quota this year.

High prices ensure 11% increase in export value of Norwegian small pelagics

In 2016, Norwegian exports of small pelagics amounted to 674,000 tonnes worth NOK7.8 billion. This represents a decline of 15 percent by volume compared with 2015, but an increase of 11 percent by value. The increases in value were caused by high prices for both herring and mackerel, while at the same time the quotas were low and demand was strong in Norway’s main markets. Norwegian mackerel exports amounted to 309,400 tonnes worth NOK4.1 billion FOB Norwegian border. This represents a 12.2 percent decline by volume and a 6.6 percent increase by value. The main importers of Norwegian mackerel were Japan, China and South Korea. For herring, Norwegian exports amounted to 224,300 tonnes worth NOK3.0 billion, a 4 percent increase by volume and a 25.7 percent increase by value compared with 2015. Russian Federation frozen mackerel imports grew by 21.9 percent in 2016, to 76,800 tonnes. Previously, Norway was the main supplier, but since the embargo was introduced, no mackerel has been imported from Norway. The main suppliers in 2016 were the Faroe Islands (69.5 percent of the total), followed by Greenland (14.5 percent) and China (11.5 percent).

The Netherlands saw only a marginal increase in its exports of frozen herring last year, from 157,700 tonnes in 2015 to 159,400 tonnes in 2016 (+1.1 percent). The major markets included Nigeria (40.8 percent of total), Egypt (26.2 percent) and Malta (14.7 percent). Dutch export prices dropped slightly, resulting in Dutch herring export values falling by 3.3 percent in 2016 to US$131.9 million. In contrast, Norway, experienced growth in both volume and value of its frozen herring exports. The exported volume increased by a meagre 0.4 percent, to 101,200 tonnes, while the value of herring exports increased by 10.6 percent to US$115.7 million. The main markets for Norwegian herring include Ukraine (34.4 percent of total), Lithuania (15.5 percent) and Egypt (12 percent).

China is a major importer of Russian herring

Norway has managed to find alternative markets for its herring in place of the Russian Federation. Iceland, on the other hand, still needs to find and develop new markets.

Russian Federation frozen herring exports dropped significantly during 2016, from 136,900 tonnes in 2015 to 100 600 tonnes in 2016 (-26.5 percent). The main markets were China (76.4 percent of total), Republic of Korea (14.3 percent) and Ukraine (2.8 percent).

Japan imported 17.1 percent less fresh and frozen herring in 2016 (21 800 tonnes) than in 2015 (26 300 tonnes). Major suppliers to Japan were the United States of America (54.1 percent of total), the Russian Federation (21.1 percent) and Canada (13.3 percent).

FAO GLOBEFISH. The report analyses the market situation over the year 2016 and the first quarter 2017.