GLOBEFISH - Información e Análisis Comercial en Pesquerias

Herring and mackerel quota cut sharply in the North Atlantic


The report analyses the market situation until September 2017 

The EU28, Norway, the Faroe Islands and Iceland have agreed to cut the herring quota for 2018 to 435 000 tonnes. This is above the ICES recommendation of 384 000 tonnes, but almost 33 percent lower than the 2017 quota. The mackerel quota has also been reduced by 20 percent to 816 797 tonnes.

After a total ban on capelin fishing in the Barents Sea, the Russian Federation and Norway have now agreed to reopen this fishery with a quota of 205 000 tonnes for 2018. Fishing companies in the Russian Federation are now making plans to enter this fishery. Most of the Russian Federation catch is expected to find its way into its consumer market, where capelin is a traditional fare.


The EU28, Norway and the Faroe Islands agreed on a total quota for northeast Atlantic mackerel in October. The total quota was set at 816 797 tonnes, a 20 percent reduction from 2017. The quota is divided between Norway (183 857 tonnes), the EU28 (402 592 tonnes) and the Faroe Islands (102 924 tonnes). Other countries fishing in international waters have a quota of 15 percent.

Norwegian landings of mackerel were almost 126 000 tonnes of the 234 472 tonne quota by early October. Record landings of large mackerel (over 600 g) were registered, with prices increasing in October after a drop in the summer. Prices in 2017 are still well below those of 2016: the first-had price in week 39 of 2016 was NOK 12.36 per kg, while in the same week in 2017 dropped to NOK 9.32 per kg.

In mid-October there was a dip in the catches of mackerel, when bad weather hampered fishing effort off the coast of Norway. The mackerel fishery was slowing down markedly by the end of October.


ICES recommended that the quota for Norwegian spring-spawning herring (NVG) be cut by 40 percent to 384 197 tonnes in 2018, down from 646 000 tonnes in 2017. The final result was a 33 percent cut to 435 000 tonnes.

Norway and the EU28 agreed on fishing quotas for Skagerrak, with a total amount of 6 459 tonnes for herring and 1 997 tonnes for sprat.

The herring market was unsettled and slow at the end of October, because prices were low and falling, and many buyers were waiting for further declines. Sellers accuse the very few and very large buyers of controlling the prices, and buyers blame the large amounts of herring entering the market this year for the price collapse. Due to strong catches, the volume of Norwegian herring exports increased by 15 percent during the first nine months of the year, though the value of herring exports fell by 8 percent during this period.

Fishmeal and fish oil producers are now paying higher prices for small herring than buyers pay for the large herring for human consumption. Norwegian fishermen reported that prices for smaller herring are now higher than for larger herring. A greater part of the large catches of herring landed in Norway was allocated to fishmeal production rather than to human consumption.


In 2017, Peru introduced an anchovy quota of 300 000 tonnes for direct human consumption for the first time in history, to stimulate human consumption of the species. Anchovy in Peru is largely used to produce fishmeal and fish oil.

The Bay of Biscay had the largest biomass of juvenile anchovy ever registered of about 725 000 tonnes, on par with the record level of 724 000 tonnes recorded in 2014. According to ocean researchers, this is a sign that the anchovy stock is in good health and on its way to recovery after the collapse at the turn of the millennium.


Norwegian mackerel exports reached 310 000 tonnes worth NOK 3.8 billion (USD 458 million) in the first nine months of the year. This represents an increase of 6 percent in volume compared to the same period in 2016 year, but a decline of 1 percent in value.

According to the Norwegian Seafood Council, the Chinese market for small pelagics like mackerel and capelin is growing. In 2016, about 15 000 tonnes of Atlantic mackerel were consumed in China, mainly in Japanese restaurants. Chinese consumption of capelin is also up significantly. In 2016, 9 000 tonnes of capelin were consumed, 70 percent more than in 2015.

Norwegian exports of frozen mackerel during the first three quarters of 2017 registered some major changes in direction of trade. Exports to China and Turkey increased significantly, by 56.3 percent and 120.8 percent, respectively. Exports to Japan and the Republic of Korea dropped by 41.6 percent and 37.2 percent respectively. Exports to the Netherlands also dropped significantly (-41.3 percent). Total Norwegian exports of frozen mackerel declined by 10 percent, to 129 600 tonnes, compared to 144 700 tonnes during the same period in 2016.

China was the largest single market for Norwegian frozen mackerel during the first three quarters of the year, and at the same time China increased its exports of this commodity by 7.8 percent, to 173 600 tonnes. The largest markets for Chinese exports of frozen mackerel were Indonesia (45 100 tonnes), the Philippines (40 600 tonnes) and Thailand (15 400 tonnes). While China sold more frozen mackerel to Indonesia and the Philippines during this period than during the same period in 2016, exports to Thailand dropped by 46 percent, from 28 700 tonnes in 2016 to 15 400 tonnes in 2017.

The Russian Federation imports of frozen mackerel increased by 25 percent to 66 900 tonnes during the first nine months of 2017. The largest suppliers were the Faroe Islands (39 200 tonnes), followed by Greenland (12 300 tonnes) and China (7 700 tonnes).

Norwegian herring exports increased during the first three quarters of 2017 by 13.8 percent in volume, to 81 000 tonnes. However, the value of exports went down by almost 8 percent, from NOK 2.1 billion in 2016 to NOK 1.9 billion in 2017. The largest markets were Ukraine (24.8 percent), Lithuania (13.3 percent), and Egypt (13.2 percent).

The Netherlands also saw a significant increase in its herring exports during this period. Total exports increased by 32.2 percent to 77 100 tonnes. The most remarkable increase was registered for Nigeria, which increased imports from the Netherlands by 79.5 percent to 33 000 tonnes. Exports to Egypt increased by 7.3 percent, while exports to China declined by 4.8 percent to 3 500 tonnes.

Japan increased its imports of herring by almost 35 percent to 28 500 tonnes during the first nine months of 2017. All major suppliers registered increases in shipments to Japan: USA +26.1 percent (14 800 tonnes), Russia +49.3 percent (6 500 tonnes), and Canada + 76.7 percent (5 200 tonnes).

Imports of canned sardines into the USA increased by 18 percent to 27 300 tonnes during the first nine months of 2017. Major suppliers were Poland, Morocco and Canada.


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