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1.1 Nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish
1.2 Characteristics of consumption in the region
1.3 Annual consumption of fish and shellfish
1.4 Gross market data
1.5 Specific market, data
1.6 Information for the trade
1.7 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector

1.1 Nutritional benefits of fish and shellfish

The health aspects of fish are not widely considered by the majority of people in the region, except in the mostly highly developed western countries where the imbalance between meat and fish consumption and the correlation with health are being increasingly pointed out. In these countries more and more people are becoming aware of eating a diet composed of a suitable balance between two kinds of polyunsaturated fatty acids, namely the linoleate types (n-6) the linoleate types (n-3). The latter are a group of fatty acids which are characteristic of sea foods, such as fish, shrimp, and seaweed.

A well balanced diet with fish and shellfish products prevents an over production of the hormone-like eicosanoids from the essential fatty acid arachidonate. An unbalanced production of eicosanoids in the human body can lead to arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, arthritis, and asthma.

Even the 'fat' fish species, such as salmon, eel, and mackerel (which have a fat content of up to 20%), have valuable fatty acids to meet human nutritional requirements. In spite of their high fat content these species have less fat than most cured meats and dairy products. Fish are also an important source of vitamins A and D, and contain important dietary trace elements such as zinc, fluorine, selenium, and iodine.

In European countries as a whole, most people obtain sufficient protein in their diets, and the contribution of protein from fish and fishery products is comparatively small in many areas. However, the amino acid composition in fish is very favourable compared with many other food products. Aquatic animals contain a high level of protein (17-20%). The flesh of fish is therefore readily digestible and immediately utilizable by the human body.

Another favourable aspect of aquatic animals, including certain species of shellfish, compared with land animals is that they have a higher percentage of edible flesh. Hence there is little wastage.

1.2 Characteristics of consumption in the region

The consumption patterns of fish and shellfish products differ greatly between the Northwestern and Eastern countries of the region. About 48% of the fishery resources is utilized as non-food products (mainly as feed for chicken, pigs, and other animals) in the Northwestern countries, and only 22% in the Eastern countries.

The average per caput consumption of fish and fishery products is 15 kg and 22 kg for Northwestern and Eastern sub-regions respectively. In the latter the higher per caput consumption absorbs about 76% of the total available catch, but in the former it is only 36%. As a result, the Northwestern sub-region has a surplus supply of fish and shellfish, which is about 16% of the catch.

The ratio of fish to meat consumption varies considerably within the two sub-regions. In general the ratio is lower in the Eastern countries, as certain countries, such as the GDR and Hungary, are extreme in their low production of fish and high consumption of meat. The latter is higher than all countries of the Northwest. In the Eastern sub-region the lowest ratios of fish to meat consumption (0.04-0.05) are in Czechoslovakia, the GDR, and Hungary, and the highest (0.49) is in the USSR.

The Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden have the highest fish to meat ratios (0.50-1.26) in the Northwestern group. In the others it is only 0.07-0.28. The reason is partly a lower meat consumption in the former countries, especially in Finland, Norway and Sweden. Iceland has a high meat consumption, and therefore the highest ratio.

The range of meat consumption varies from 63-109 kg per caput/year in the Eastern countries, and 49-98 kg per caput/year in the Northwest. Recent trends in some countries of the Northwest and elsewhere are toward less meat and more fish in the diet. For example, in the USA, the per caput consumption of beef has decreased continuously since 1976, and fish consumption has increased steadily since 1982.

The net export of fishery products is 1.3 million tonnes (t) from the Northwestern countries of Europe to other regions, while the net export from the Eastern countries (including USSR) is insignificant. Six of the Northwestern group, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK have a net export of 2.4 million t, of which half is exported to countries inside the region and half to countries outside the region. The net importers are Austria, Belgium, Finland, the FRG, Sweden, and Switzerland, which together have a deficit of 0.7 million t in the trade balance of fishery products. Some countries, like Sweden, export low value fish and import high value fish and shellfish products. Sweden has an annual trade deficit of S.Kr. 1-2 thousand million because of its imported fishery products.

1.3 Annual consumption of fish and shellfish

The average annual consumption of fish and fishery products during 1982-84 varied from 11.4 kg per caput in the Eastern European countries, 15.4 kg per caput in the Northwestern European countries, to 27.3 kg per caput in the USSR. Within each sub-region there are considerable differences. The high consumers are Iceland (88.4 kg), Norway (46.0 kg), Finland (34.3 kg) and Sweden (29.4 kg); the low consumers are Czechoslovakia (4.6 kg), Hungary (4.7 kg), Austria (6.5 kg), Bulgaria (8.6 kg), Romania (9.2 kg), and the FRG (9.3 kg). The rest of the countries in the two groups consume 11-22 kg per caput.

In almost all countries of the region the traditional species preferred and consumed are herring, cod, and the flatfish. With regard to species which are of prime importance to aquaculture, such as eel, carp, salmon, rainbow trout, whitefish, prime flatfish (halibut, sole, and turbot), the molluscs, such as oysters, mussels, and scallops, and the crustaceans, such as freshwater crayfish, crabs, shrimps and lobsters, there are wide differences in consumer patterns, for many reasons.

Most of the Northwestern countries eat salmon and rainbow trout. Belgium, Denmark, the FRG, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK have the highest consumption per caput of salmon. The consumption of canned salmon is also particularly high in Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK. In Belgium, Finland, FRG, and the UK there is a high consumption of rainbow trout. The marine flatfish are consumed in most countries. It is difficult to distinguish any pattern from available statistics except that Denmark, the FRG, the Netherlands, and the UK are the largest net importers. Eel is mainly consumed in Belgium, the FRG, the Netherlands, and Sweden.

Belgium and the Netherlands consume more molluscs (mussels and oysters) than the others, but are closely followed by the FRG and the UK. In Switzerland oysters are consumed in considerable quantity, while scallops are preferred in Belgium, the FRG, and the Netherlands, although a number of countries have recently increased their imports of scallops.

The consumption of freshwater crayfish is highest in the FRG, Finland, and Sweden. Almost all countries consume the popular marine crustaceans, such as crabs, shrimp and prawns, and European lobsters.

Among the species which are produced through aquaculture in the Eastern countries, including the USSR, the carps, rainbow trout, and whitefish - and to a lesser extent catfish and eels - are consumed locally.

1.4 Gross market data

The total population of the region, as described by the survey, was 571.9 million in 1985. There were 182.3 million people in Northwestern Europe (31.6 million in the EFTA countries and 150.7 million in the EEC countries), 112.0 million people in Eastern Europe, and 277.6 million in the USSR.

Among the Northwestern countries the population sizes are:

- below 0.3 million for Faeroes and Iceland,

- 3.5 to 10 million for Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland,

- about 15 million for the Netherlands,

- 57 to 61 million for UK and the FRG.

In Eastern Europe, populations range from 9 to 37 million (Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the GDR, Hungary, Poland, and Romania), and 277.6 million in the USSR.

The population growth rate in all countries is below +1.2%, and in Austria, the FRG, the GDR, and the UK it is about zero.

The cumulated GNP for Northwestern Europe in 1985 was US$ 1 820.2 thousand million, with:

- GNP below US$ 3 thousand million for Faeroes and Iceland,

- GNP US$ 17.3 thousand million for Ireland,

- GNP of US$ 50 to below 100 thousand million for Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden,

- GNP US$ 105.2 thousand million for Switzerland,

- GNP US$ 132.9 thousand million for the Netherlands,

- GNP US$ 474.2 thousand million for the UK,

- GNP US$ 668.0 thousand million for the FRG.

The highest GNP per caput are US$ 16 380 for Switzerland and US$ 13 890 for Norway. Denmark, Faeroes, Finland, the FRG, Iceland, and Sweden are in the range of US$ 10 000 to 12 000; the rest are US$ 9 150 (Austria), US$ 8 450 (Belgium). US$ 4 840 (Ireland), US$ 9 180 (the Netherlands) and US$ 8 390 (UK).

Growth rates during 1973-1985 were + 0.7-1.4% in Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK, and + 2.1-3.1% in Austria, Faeroes, Finland, the FRG, and Norway.

GNP data are only available for two Eastern European countries. The GNP for Hungary was US$ 20.7 thousand million, and for Poland US$ 79.0 thousand million. The corresponding per caput values were US$ 1 940 and US$ 2 120 respectively. These figures were far lower than those for the Western countries, where the average was US$ 10 528 in 1985.

1.5 Specific market, data

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Fishery Statistics Unit groups the various fish and shellfish (or potential) aquaculture species produced and/or traded in this region as follows:

- Group B11, carps and other cyprinids (carps, barbels, etc.),

- Group B12, tilapias (tilapias and other cichlids),

- Group B13, largemouth blackbass, northern pike, catfish, and other freshwater fish (miscellaneous freshwater fishes),

- Group B21, sturgeons,

- Group B22, European eel (river eels),

- Group B23, salmon and trout (salmonids, trout, and smelts),

- Group B31, sole and turbot (flounders, halibuts, and soles),

- Group B41, giant freshwater prawn (freshwater crustaceans),

- Group B45, penaeid shrimps (shrimps and prawns),

- Group B53, flat and cupped oysters (oysters),

- Group B54, mussels,

- Group B55, scallops,

- Group B56, clams (clams, cockles, and arkshells)

The cumulative world landings of these 13 statistical groups were 16.7% of the total fishery landings in 1985, including aquaculture. Within the region described by the survey the Cumulative landings of these same groups were 1 846 921 t (about 10% of the world total). Of the cumulative landings in the Northwestern, Eastern, and USSR sub-regions these same groups totalled 11.4%, 15.6%, and 8.3% of the total yields respectively.

FAO fish trade statistics provide data about the import and export of most aquaculture groups or species. Currently there is no information about groups B11, B12, B13 and B21. The primary groups or species described by the survey are only fresh, chilled, or frozen eels, salmon, trout, flatfish (all species), oysters, mussels, scallops, and canned salmon. Finland is not included in the statistics with regard to trout, although it produced more than 11 000 t of rainbow trout in 1986 and part was exported. There is no information from the eastern countries, and only a little from the USSR.

The trades between products from capture fisheries and aquaculture are not separated. Aquaculture products are an important part of the trade as a whole, and contribute to commercial production.

In 1985 there were exports of 246 573 t and imports of 266 897 t of these specific products for the countries of Northwestern Europe. The value of exports was US$ 373.7 million, and imports US$ 609.6 million. There were net imports of 20 324 t from other regions, with a value of US$ 236.2 million. This situation changed in 1986 when the exports of salmon increased by nearly 18 000 t, and the export value increased by about US$ 100 million. Therefore, in 1986 the trade deficit for these groups in the region was much less than US$ 236.2 million reported in 1985. The trade of those commodities between the Northwestern European countries in 1985 is summarized in Table 1.

The main importing and exporting countries of the different commodity groups are summarized in Table 2, according to the FAO trade statistics for 1985. These are summarized as follows:

The main importers of river eels were the FRG (4 337 t), the Netherlands (4 212 t). Belgium (1 495 t), Denmark (1 370 t), the UK (386 t), and Sweden (245 t). The main exporters were Denmark (2 051 t), the Netherlands (1 720 t), UK (1 106 t), and Sweden (1 025 t).

The main importers of fresh, chilled, and frozen salmon were Denmark (10 218 t), Sweden (7 225 t), the UK (7 092 t), the FRG (5 981 t), Belgium (3 596 t), Switzerland (2 297 t), and the Netherlands (1 659 t). The exporters were Norway (24 390 t increasing to 39 197 t in 1986), Denmark (3 791 t), UK (3 403 t), Finland (2 252 t), and Ireland (1 177 t).

Canned salmon was imported in large quantities by UK (18 888 t), the Netherlands (4 853 t), Belgium (2 803 t), and Ireland (941 t).

The main trout importers were the FRG (16 501 t), UK (6 413 t), Belgium (5 209 t), Switzerland (2 090 t), and the Netherlands (1 028 t). The main exporters were Denmark (12 983 t), Norway (1 392 t), and Belgium (1 112 t).

Flatfish were imported by most countries. The biggest quantities were bought by the UK (20 291 t), Denmark (14 689 t), FRG (14 244 t), and the Netherlands (13 485 t). The main exporters were the Netherlands (33 619 t), Denmark (15 472 t), and Belgium (7 764 t).

The main oyster importers were Belgium (1 163 t), the FRG (466 t), Switzerland (333 t), UK (234 t), and the Netherlands (110 t). The exporters were the Netherlands (1 007 t), UK (759 t), and Ireland (411 t).

Mussels were mainly imported by the Netherlands (35 495 t), Belgium (30 544 t), and the FRG (12 691 t). The main exporters were the Netherlands (54 370 t), Denmark (32 357 t), the FRG (6 233 t), and Ireland (6 106 t).

Scallops were imported by Belgium (630 t), Ireland (250 t), the FRG (197 t), Denmark (1 135 t), and the Netherlands (122 t). The main exporters were Iceland (2 127 t), Ireland (242 t), and the Faeroes (191 t).

It is clear from the trade data that large quantities of these products are supplied from other countries, particularly from outside the region. In summary, these are:


Net Import (t)

Main suppliers outside the region


5 219

China, France, and Italy


1 538

Canada and USA

Salmon (canned)

2 450

Canada and USA


17 108

France and Italy



France and Italy

1.6 Information for the trade

A valuable source of marketing information for the trade is "Eurofish Report", published by Agra Europe. This is a fortnightly information newsletter on trade and production activities in Europe. It is of interest to all European countries dealing commonly with fisheries and aquaculture products, and relevant EEC legislation.

Many national producers' associations (such as the associations of trout farmers, oyster farmers, mussel farmers, etc., detailed in section 2.5) provide specific information for the trade, collected with the particular interests of their members in mind.

The FAO Yearbooks of Fisheries Statistics and Fisheries Trade Products provide records of national and international fisheries trade as a whole. Annual fisheries statistics are also stored on an FAO database, called FISHDAB. As yet, aquaculture statistics are not separated.

One international marketing information service available to the region is INFOFISH, although it does not differentiate aquaculture products as yet. INFOFISH assists the fishing industry and governments by establishing contacts between buyers and sellers of fish products, and providing technical information and advice on post-harvest aspects of fisheries, such as handling, processing, equipment selection, and quality assurance. INFOFISH is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and its working language is English.

INFOFISH is one of four regional services, the others being in Africa (called INFOPECHE), the Arab Countries (INFOSAMAK), and Latin America (INFOPESCA). This network of services produces a fortnightly news bulletin called "Trade News", in English, French, Spanish and Arabic. This deals with prices, cold storage holdings, short-term market trends, and business opportunities. The network also publishes a two-monthly magazine called "INFOFISH International" (incorporating Marketing Digest) in English, which contains articles on market analysis, new products, processing, packaging, equipment, and other aspects of fisheries, including aquaculture, with summaries in the other three languages. Again, as yet, little information is relevant to aquaculture in the region.

A fifth member of the service is the FAO computerized system of fish marketing called GLOBEFISH. This database stores original information collected by INFOFISH and the other regional services on such things as production and trade statistics, price series, the supply and demand situation, information on aquaculture, investment, joint ventures, and general economic data relevant to fisheries. Specific searches are made on request. FAO also produces "Globefish Highlights", which is a quarterly analysis of medium trends. It is based on the information in the databank and is distributed as a supplement to the "Trade News" (above) in four languages.

The public has access to information on national tonnages and price statistics from auction markets at most of the landing harbours and on the leading national markets of all the EEC countries. Such information is not always available or readily accessible in the other countries. Also, periodically, the national trade commissions make reviews of importers, exporters, and fish trade in the other countries of major importance to the national trade.

Specific advertizing of products through the media, and quality labelling and brochures for consumers, with presentation of products, recipes, etc., exist to a limited extent for salmon, trout, and molluscs. Again, these are usually published by producers' associations, often with financial assistance from government fisheries marketing authorities. For example, in the UK the Sea Fisheries Industry Authority has a fish marketing sector, and carries out market trials on behalf of the fishing industry as a whole, and also there are the Trout Producers' Association and Salmon Producers' Association. In Norway there is Fiskoppdretternes Salgslag A.L., which is a strong marketing organization for all kinds of fish and shellfish produced by aquaculture in the country. These three producer organizations charge both sellers and buyers for the product to finance their activities. Other products are marketed throughout the region without any specific information.

Strict rules for hygiene and sanitary control are enforced by all the fishery authorities in the region involved in the trade of live fish products, including sanitary labelling and compulsory depuration for all products imported from non-sanitary safe areas, and from all non-EEC countries.

At the local level there are several special bulletins and newsletters to be found in the major production centres, as well as articles in local and regional journals on a wide range of events in the aquaculture sector. Countries also have access to data provided by a private company in France, Stratege Telematique. In 1986 the company began to advertize for electronic information on product prices, buying and selling of farms, and seed collection. The information is available on the national telephone network through the widely distributed "MINITEL" terminals.

Typical trade publications available in the region are Sea Food International (UK), and from outside the region there are Sea Business (USA), Seafood Leader (USA), and Il Pesce (Italy).

1.7 Technical assistance projects in the sub-sector

There are no technical assistance projects in the region as described which deal with the consumption and marketing of aquaculture products.

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