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7.5 ITALY


7.5.1 Catches

Elasmobranchii represent only a small proportion of total Italian fisheries. Nearly 5 950 tonnes of Elasmobranchii were caught in 1997 by Italy, which is equivalent to 0.75% of world chondrichthyan catches and 1.06% of the Italian catch. Notwithstanding this, Italy is, according to FAO statistics, the world’s largest shark importer. These species have always had a limited importance in Italian fisheries. Between 1950 and 1982 elasmobranch catches averaged 4 000 tonnes per year. Only in 1983 were they more than 6 000 tonnes and they exceeded 12 000 tonnes in 1984. The record was registered in 1994 with 16 500 tonnes. In the following two years they have declined considerably, falling to 5 000 tonnes in 1996, but in 1997 a 19.7% increase was experienced as compared to the previous year.

According to FAO statistics, sharks represented more than 10.4% of total Italian elasmobranch catches in 1997, the rest were batoid fishes. In 1997 the only shark species recorded was smooth-hounds nei (Mustelus spp.) but in previous years other species were caught: catsharks (Scyliorhinus), blackmouth catshark (Galeus melastomus) and dogfish (Squalus spp.).

Figure 91 Italian elasmobranch catches by species in 1 000 tonnes (1950-1997)

Source: FAO - FIDI.

Italy is the major fishing country of Elasmobranchii in the Mediterranean, followed by Turkey, Greece and Tunisia. In 1997 nearly all of its catches were from this area. In previous years Italy also caught Elasmobranchii in other fishing areas; in 1994, 60.9% came from the Mediterranean, 29.3% from the Central Eastern Atlantic, 5.9% from the Western Indian Ocean and 3.9% from the Southwest Atlantic. Within the Mediterranean, a great part of the Italian elasmobranch catch comes from the Ionian Sea (84.4% in 1994).

Figure 92 Italian elasmobranch catches by fishing areas in 1 000 tonnes (1950-1997)

Source: FAO - FIDI.

In the Mediterranean sharks are captured by trawlers or as bycatch of longliners and driftnets. They are often taken as bycatch in the seasonal swordfish (April-May) and albacore (September-November) drift longline fisheries, mainly in the Gulf of Taranto and in the northern Adriatic Sea. Major shark species caught as bycatch are blue, thresher sharks and porbeagles. Blue sharks are probably recorded as Mustelus spp. in official statistics and also sold as Mustelus[132]. The size of blue sharks is reported to be decreasing and the average weight has been found to be 3.4 kg[133]. This species is reported to be the most important share of all the bycatch of longliners. Research carried out in the southern Adriatic[134] reported that landings of blue sharks account for 74.4% by weight and 61.2% of units of the total bycatch. According to Spagnolo[135], in addition to blue and thresher sharks, other species caught are smooth-hound (Mustelus mustelus), starry smooth-hound (Mustelus asterias), nursehounds (Scyliorhinus stellaris), small-spotted catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula), blackmouth catshark (Galeus melastomus) and velvet-belly (Etmopterus spinax). According to Fergusson[136], commercial catches of bluntnose sixgill shark (Hexanchus griseus), broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus), gulper shark (Centrophorus granulosus) and shortfin mako exist in southern Italy and off Sicily.

7.5.2 Markets and trade

According to FAO data, Italian production of Elasmobranchii has long been of minor importance. It was more significant in the early 1990s when it exceeded 4 000 tonnes annually. It peaked at nearly 4 900 tonnes in 1993 and fell away in since 1995 due to the decline in Italian elasmobranch catches. In 1997 no production of Elasmobranchii was reported, while in 1996 only 250 tonnes were produced and consisted exclusively of frozen sharks. In previous years Italy had also produced frozen skates to a maximum of nearly 2 200 tonnes in 1992.

Italy is, by far, the leading world importer of sharks followed by France and Spain, according to FAO statistics. Italian imports of Elasmobranchii consist only of fresh or frozen sharks in whole or fillet forms. Imports have substantially increased, especially since the late 1980s, from 8 750 tonnes in 1976. Italy imported 14 640 tonnes of shark worth US$41.2 million in 1998, of which 16% were dogfish and catsharks and 84% were other sharks such as porbeagle and smooth-hounds (EUROSTAT data).

Currently the bulk of Italian shark imports is frozen, 12 050 tonnes (US$25.6 million) whole and 450 tonnes (US$1.8 million) filleted in 1998. The rest were fresh chilled, over 2 150 tonnes (US$13.8 million) in that year. Italy has increased its imports of frozen sharks remarkably in the last few years.

Figure 93 Italian shark imports by product forms in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT.

In 1998 Spain was the major supplier to Italy with 6 200 tonnes, valued US$9.2 million, followed by Netherlands (1 290 tonnes, US$6.4 million), UK (1 190 tonnes, US$3.4 million), South Africa (1 040 tonnes, US$3.2 million) and France (1 030 tonnes, US$6.5 million). More than 73.3% of the volume and 70.1% of the value of Italian shark imports came from these five countries and over 75.0% came from Europe. Other major providers were Germany (835 tonnes, US$3.1 million), Argentina (790 tonnes, US$1.9 million), Singapore (735 tonnes, US$1.8 million), Denmark (270 tonnes, US$2.2 million) and the USA (230 tonnes, US$1.1 million). Imports from Germany and Netherlands consist mainly of re-exports of sharks imported from outside the EU, particularly from Japan and South Africa as far as the Netherlands is concerned. Imports from Spain have increased impressively since 1993, going from 6 tonnes in 1988 to 1 200 tonnes in 1993 and 6 600 tonnes in 1997. In 1998 these imports have declined to 6 200 tonnes. The great bulk of Spanish exports to Italy consisted of frozen other sharks (5 900 tonnes in 1998) plus 200 tonnes of frozen dogfish and catsharks, 40 tonnes of frozen fillets and 40 tonnes of fresh sharks. Imports from France and Denmark were mainly fresh. Importers of shark meat to Italy have changed considerably in the course of the last 20 years. In 1975 Japan was the major supplier by far, followed by Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Denmark, Norway, Mauritania and China[137].

Figure 94 Italian shark imports by country of origin in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT.

Sharks are mainly imported in dressed carcass form, processed in the country and sold as frozen steaks or fillets. Major species imported are porbeagle (Lamna cornubica), smooth-hounds, small spotted catshark (Scyliorhinus canicula), picked dogfish and mako shark (Carcharhinus falciformis), which is considered one of the preferred species and sold as smeriglio. Until a few years ago Italy imported tope sharks from France but they were found to have a high mercury content so these imports declined. Examination of EUROSTAT data shows no correspondence between the reported Italian shark imports from France and the French shark exports to Italy. The latter show a substantial decline in French exports to Italy from 1 000 tonnes in 1990 to 490 tonnes in 1991, while Italy reported imports of 900 tonnes from France in that year. Italian national statistics reported by ISTAT consider shark imports in two groups: "picked dogfish and smooth-hounds" and "other sharks" recorded as fresh and chilled and frozen. In 1996 frozen picked dogfish and smooth-hound represented 78.2% of the volume and 64.9% in value of Italian shark imports.

Figure 95 Italian shark imports by species in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT.

Sharks are more widely eaten in northern Italy. In general smaller shark species are preferred to larger. Italy represents the major European market for smooth-hounds (Mustelus spp.), especially M. mustelus, but M. canis is also imported. Smooth-hounds are generally sold as palombo but the name changes from one region to another so they are also known as can bianco (white dog) in Friuli Venezia Giulia, cagneto in Veneto, missola or pallouna in Liguria, nizza or stera in Marche, cagnolo or penna in Puglia. In Venice, palombo steaks are marketed as vitello di mare (veal of the sea). Sharks are usually marketed as palombo (smooth-hounds), smeriglio (mako shark but often also porbeagle) gattucci (catsharks), spinaroli and cani spellati (picked dogfish). There are also reports that blue sharks are marketed as the more valuable smooth-hounds under the name palombo, and porbeagle and mako shark as the more expensive pesce spada (swordfish) whose wholesale prices in March 1999 ranged between Lit 15 000 and Lit 23 000/kg (US$9.10-13.90/kg).

In March 1999 average wholesale prices ranged between Lit 6 000 and Lit 9 300/kg (US$3.50-5.60/kg) for fresh whole smooth-hounds and between Lit 10 800 and Lit 13 900/kg (US$6.50-8.30/kg) for fresh, whole, skinless smooth-hounds. In the same period fresh, whole catshark (gattuccio) was quoted at between Lit 4 000 and Lit 8 500/kg (US$2.40-5.15/kg) and spinarolo between Lit 10 500 and Lit 12 000/kg (US$6.30-7.30/kg). Figure 96 shows two price series for fresh skinned dogfish and frozen porbeagle, both of foreign origin, at the wholesale market of Milan from January 1988 to March 1999.

Figure 96 Milan wholesale prices in Lit/kg

Source: Listino dei prezzi all'Ingrosso di Milano.

Table 70 shows prices for catshark, dogfish and smooth-hounds in different Italian fish markets on 2nd February 1999. It can be noted that prices are higher in the markets of North of Italy as compared to those in the South.

Table 70 Wholesale prices in different Italian markets on February 1999

Species

Product form

Market

Origin

Lit/kg

US$/kg

Catshark

Fresh, chilled

Cagliari


4 000

2.34

Catshark

Fresh, chilled

Livorno

Domestic

8 890-12 960

5.20-7.57

Dogfish

Whole

Venezia

Domestic

4 000-8 000

2.34-4.68

Dogfish

Whole

Venezia

Foreign

3 000-13 000

1.75-7.60

Smooth-hounds


Civitanova Marche

Domestic

9 282

5.42

Smooth-hounds

Frozen, skinned

Molfetta

Foreign

4 500-5 000

2.63-2.92

Smooth-hounds

Fresh, chilled

Palermo


4 000-5 000

2.34-2.92

Smooth-hounds

Fresh, chilled

Porto Palo


4 000-5 000

2.34-2.92

Smooth-hounds

Fresh, chilled, skinned

Roma

Foreign

1 0000-13 000

5.84-7.60

Smooth-hounds

Fresh, chilled

Siracusa


4 000-5 000

2.34-2.92

Smooth-hounds

Whole

Venezia

Foreign

8 000-12 500

4.68-7.31

Source: ISMEA

Historically, Italian exports of sharks have been marginal. In 1976 they amounted to 175 tonnes worth US$154 000 and until 1997 they have never exceeded 390 tonnes. According to EUROSTAT figures, in 1998 Italy exported more than 400 tonnes worth US$809 300. Major countries of destination were Greece, Tunisia, France and Spain. Exports were mainly frozen.

Figure 97 Italian shark exports by product forms in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT.

Figure 98 Italian shark exports by species in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT.

Figure 99 Italian shark exports by country of destination in tonnes

Source: EUROSTAT.

Small quantities of shark fin preparations, such as canned soup, dried processed shark fin and dried whole fin, are imported from Singapore, Hong Kong, China and France for the use of Asian markets and restaurants, mainly in Rome and Milan. They are not reported in FAO statistics.

The market for shark cartilage products is limited. There are reports of imports of such products from the USA and UK.

No statistics are available on shark hides and liver oil. Neither of these products seem to have a big market in Italy. According to Kreuzer and Ahmed[138], Italian leather manufacturers are not familiar with shark hide and there is no demand as such for shark liver oil. He suggested that there could be imports of prepared shark oils for industrial applications.

Table 71 Italian elasmobranch catches by species in tonnes


1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

1 500

1 500

1 500

2 000

2 000

2 000

2 200

2 200

2 200

2 100

Smooth- hounds nei

1 000

1 000

1 500

1 500

1 500

1 800

1 800

1 800

1 700

1 700

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Dogfish sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Large sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Raja rays nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

2 500

2 500

3 000

3 500

3 500

3 800

4 000

4 000

3 900

3 800













1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

2 000

2 200

1 900

1 900

2 300

2 500

3 300

2 400

2 400

2 200

Smooth- hounds nei

1 800

2 100

1 800

1 900

2 300

2 500

2 700

2 400

2 300

2 300

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Dogfish sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Large sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Raja rays nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

3 800

4 300

3 700

3 800

4 600

5 000

6 000

4 800

4 700

4 500













1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

2 400

2 500

2 700

2 300

2 470

2 351

2 673

2 575

2 133

1 949

Smooth- hounds nei

2 400

2 500

2 700

2 300

2 591

2 420

2 935

2 950

2 632

2 459

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

90

30

127

Dogfish sharks nei

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

13

0

0

Large sharks nei

-

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

0

Raja rays nei

-

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

31

0

Total

4 800

5 000

5 400

4 600

5 061

4 771

5 608

5 631

4 826

4 535













1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

2 004

1 344

1 151

1 822

4 706

4 679

4 460

4 579

4 807

3 369

Smooth- hounds nei

2 531

2 399

3 462

4 459

6 323

8 777

8 027

4 039

4 319

3 529

Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

589

168

194

162

1 187

817

912

1 158

1 300

1 500

Dogfish sharks nei

0

0

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

Large sharks nei

0

0

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

Raja rays nei

0

0

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

5 124

3 911

4 807

6 443

12 216

14 273

13 399

9 776

10 426

8 398













1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997



Rays, stingrays, mantas nei

4 078

5 582

5 244

4 840

4 187

4 586

2 309

5 325



Smooth- hounds nei

3 983

5 825

5 778

4 675

9 999

5 942

2 659

621



Sharks, rays, skates, etc. nei

1 552

2 339

2 698

2 287

2 287

0

0

0



Dogfish sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-



Large sharks nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-



Raja rays nei

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-



Total

9 613

13 746

13 720

11 802

16 473

10 528

4 968

5 946



Source: FAO - FIDI.

Table 72 Italian elasmobranch catches by fishing area in tonnes


1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

Mediterranean and Black Sea

2 500

2 500

3 000

3 500

3 500

3 800

4 000

4 000

3 900

3 800

Atlantic, Eastern Central

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Indian Ocean, Western

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Southwest

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Southeast

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Northeast

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Northwest

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

2 500

2 500

3 000

3 500

3 500

3 800

4 000

4 000

3 900

3 800













1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

1968

1969

Mediterranean and Black Sea

3 800

4 300

3 700

3 800

4 600

5 000

6 000

4 800

4 700

4 500

Atlantic, Eastern Central

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Indian Ocean, Western

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Southwest

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Southeast

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Northeast

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Northwest

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

3 800

4 300

3 700

3 800

4 600

5 000

6 000

4 800

4 700

4 500













1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

Mediterranean and Black Sea

4 800

5 000

5 400

4 600

5 061

4 771

5 608

5 349

4 576

4 306

Atlantic, Eastern Central

-

0

0

0

0

0

0

246

174

155

Indian Ocean, Western

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Atlantic, Southwest

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Atlantic, Southeast

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

20

45

74

Atlantic, Northeast

-

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2

0

Atlantic, Northwest

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

16

29

0

Total

4 800

5 000

5 400

4 600

5 061

4 771

5 608

5 631

4 826

4 535

Table 72 Italian elasmobranch catches by fishing area in tonnes (continued)


1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

Mediterranean and Black Sea

4 324

3 730

4 609

6 281

11 029

13 344

12 297

8 366

8 786

6 523

Atlantic, Eastern Central

503

13

198

162

1 187

839

743

987

1 175

1 100

Indian Ocean, Western

270

168

0

0

0

0

0

141

263

260

Atlantic, Southwest

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

142

0

260

Atlantic, Southeast

27

0

0

0

0

90

359

140

202

255

Atlantic, Northeast

0

0

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

Atlantic, Northwest

0

0

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

Total

5 124

3 911

4 807

6 443

12 216

14 273

13 399

9 776

10 426

8 398













1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997



Mediterranean and Black Sea

7 522

9 514

8 864

7 686

12 357

10 494

4 960

5 946



Atlantic, Eastern Central

1 255

2 539

3 641

3 087

3 087

26

6

0



Indian Ocean, Western

523

1 058

729

617

617

5

1

0



Atlantic, Southwest

313

635

486

412

412

3

1

0



Atlantic, Southeast

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0



Atlantic, Northeast

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-



Atlantic, Northwest

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-



Total

9 613

13 746

13 720

11 802

16 473

10 528

4 968

5 946



Source: FAO - FIDI.


[132 ]BONFIL R., idem, citing DE METRIO G. et al. "Survey on summer-autumn population of Prionace glauca L. (Pisces, Chondrichthyes) in the Gulf of Taranto (Italy) during the four year period 1978-1981 and its incidence on swordfish (Xiphias gladius) and albacore (Thunnus alalunga) fishing", Oebalia, 1984.
[133]SPAGNOLO M., , Appendix IV.6, “Sharks in the Mediterranean” of this volume.
[134 ]SPAGNOLO M., idem, citing MARANO et al, 1988.
[135 ]SPAGNOLO M., idem.
[136 ]OLIVER A., idem, citing FERGUSSON J. pers. comm. 1996.
[137] Source: Nimexe, 1975.
[138]KREUZER R., AHMED R., idem.

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