FAO/GIEWS - Food Outlook No.1 - February 2002 p. 10

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Fish and Fisheries Products



Preliminary statistics for world fish production in 2000 indicate a record of 130 million tonnes, of which 28 percent coming from aquaculture. Of the total, China is estimated to have produced some 41.6 million tonnes remaining, by far, the world's top producer. Peru was the second major fishing nation in 2000 with a production of 10.7 million tonnes. The importance of aquaculture in world fish production continues to expand, especially for freshwater species such as carp.

Total world trade of fish and fishery products increased in 2000 to reach an export value of US$54 000 million, 3 percent up from 1999. Thailand maintained its position as the main exporting country with total exports valued at US$4 300 million. China experienced a sharp increase in its export performance to take second position among all fish exporting countries with total exports valued at US$3 700 million, an impressive growth of 23 percent from 1999. The Chinese fisheries exporting industry is specializing in re-processing of imported raw material, creating a strong value-addition in this process. Norway, which used to be number two fish exporter in previous years, reported lower export values. This is in part due to lower salmon prices, but also caused by the weak Euro - the currency of the main trading area for Norwegian fish.

Fishery Production 1/

( . .million tonnes .. )
38 025
40 030
41 600
4 346
8 437
10 665
6 026
5 935
5 712
3 558
5 325
4 566
5 244
5 434
5 600
5 154
5 228
5 173
4 595
5 077
5 103
Russian Federation
4 518
4 210
4 024
3 470
3 608
3 608
3 259
3 096
3 191
39 408
40 187
40 915
World total
117 603
126 567
130 157

The developed countries accounted for more than 80 percent of total imports of fishery products in 2000 in value terms. Japan was again the biggest importer of fishery products, accounting for some 26 percent of the global total. Japanese imports of fish and fishery products declined in 1998 due to the economic recession, and only in 2000 did the value of Japanese imports regain the level of 1997. The EC further increased its dependency on imports for its fish supply. Apart from Spain, now the number three importer of fishery products, all other countries of the Euro-currency area reported lower value of imports in 2000. The United States, besides being the world's fourth major exporting country, was the second biggest importer. Imports grew in 2000, mainly due to expansion in shrimp imports.

The net receipts of foreign exchange by the developing countries - deducting their imports from the total value of their exports - stabilized at US$16 000 million. This is however more than the net exports from developing countries of other agricultural commodities such as rice, coffee, tea, etc. For many developing nations, fish trade represents a significant source of foreign currency earnings.

Review by Commodity

The economic crisis in Japan led to lower demand for shrimp there. The main supplying countries had to reduce prices and to look for other outlets, in order to sell their production. The United States market was strong in 2000, but declined sharply in 2001, especially after the dramatic events of 11 September. Demand for shrimp in Europe was improving up to 2000, in parallel with the overall economic situation, but since then the weakening of the Euro has undercut any substantial growth there. On 29 January 2002, the EC stopped imports of shrimp from China due to the strong presence of antibiotics in cultured shrimp from this country.

Disease problems, experienced by Ecuador and Central America in 1999, led to lower production of cultured shrimp also in 2000 and 2001. Thailand continues to be the main shrimp aquaculture producer with 250 000 tonnes, and cultured shrimp production is growing after the disease problems experienced in 1996 and 1997.

Following strong tuna catches in 1999, skipjack prices declined to a record low, making tuna fishing uneconomical. In mid-2000, the main tuna vessel owners created an organization with the aim to normalize the market. Stringent catch reduction programmes were put into place by this organization, which had an immediate effect on prices. During the course of 2001, members of the organization met regularly, keeping catch reduction in place.

Thailand continues to be the main exporter of canned tuna to the United States market, but lower exports were experienced in 2001. The Philippines remained in second position. The use of tuna loins by Italian canners continues to expand. Loins as raw material now account for about 70 percent of total Italian canned tuna production. Ecuador and Colombia are benefiting from their special duty-free status as Andean community countries and are increasing their shipments to the EC.

Groundfish supply was very limited in the first half of 2001. Alaska pollack supply was reduced in all main markets. Cod and hake also reported lower catches and less availability. Prices did not go up as much as expected, as other species - salmon and tilapia - are replacing groundfish in many markets.

Squid fisheries were low in 2001, especially Illex catches from the South West Atlantic. Octopus catches in the Eastern Central Atlantic were good in the beginning of 2001, leading to higher exports directed to Japan. The Moroccan Government fixed a minimum price, in a move to protect its octopus industry.

The 2001 fishmeal production is forecast at 5.4 million tonnes, which is a 12 percent decrease from 2000.

Various fishing bans and problems with the jack mackerel resource in Chilean waters were the main reason for the rather disappointing catch. Also Peruvian production was relatively low. The bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) scare overshadowed the fishmeal market in Europe in 2001. In early 2001 the EC prohibited the use of animal proteins in all animal feeds with the exception of milk powder and fishmeal. The use of the latter was prohibited in ruminant's diets only. In most plants in the EC, feed for non ruminants is produced in the same line as ruminants food, since the EC legislation resulted to lower fishmeal use in pig and poultry diet too. Fishmeal prices are expected to increase due to good demand. Peru and Chile lodged their complaint with WTO SPS Committee (October 2001) to persuade the EC to lift the current restrictions on fishmeal usage.

The overall climate on the fish oil market was good in 2001, with strong improvements in prices. Fish oil production in 2001 was slightly below 2000. There is little availability of fish oil on the market at present. Competing vegetable oils seems to be in shorter supply than initially forecast, and their prices are expected to move up. As a result, a further increase in fish oil prices is likely.

The use of fish in food aid continues to decline. In 2000, some 9 000 tonnes were donated which compares to 21 300 tonnes in 1989. Canned fish is the main product, while edible fat reported a dramatic decline in recent years. Norway continues to be the main supplier of fish for food aid, and reported a sharp decline in 1998. Developing countries are practically not tapped as a source of fish for food aid.

Average Fertilizer Spot Prices (bulk, f.o.b.)

Change from
last year 1/
( . . . . . . . .. .. . . US$/tonne . . . . . . .. . . . . )
(. percentage. )
eastern Europe
Near East
Ammonium Sulphate
eastern Europe
U.S. Gulf
western Europe
Diammonium Phosphate
North Africa
U.S. Gulf
Triple Superphosphate
North Africa
U.S. Gulf
Muriate of Potash
eastern Europe
western Europe

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