Very high prices for capelin

As the capelin fishery in Iceland has opened up again with a quota of 127 000 tonnes, there is strong optimism in the industry. And the optimism seems well-founded, for demand is good and prices record high. The Icelandic quota is divided between Iceland and other countries, including Norway, which gets over 40 000 tonnes of the total quota.

The latest Norwegian export statistics show that the market has paid almost NOK 16 per kg for capelin from Norway, mainly to the Asian market. The figures show that 29 539 tonnes of capelin have been exported at a FOB value of NOK 471 million so far this year, corresponding to an average price of NOK 15.95 per kg. This is almost ten kroner more per kg compared to 2018 when there was significant fishing and exports of capelin from Norway.

In 2018, 38 308 tonnes of capelin were exported at a value of NOK 257 million, i.e., an average price of NOK 6.71 per kg, according to the Norwegian Seafood Council. Small quantities of capelin were exported from Norway in 2019 (4,287 tonnes with an average price of NOK 8.61 per kg) and 2020 (162 tonnes with an average price of NOK 7.11 per kg).

Tags: Capelin, export, Norway, prices


Crab: demand strong, prices rising

Demand for crab seems insatiable in most markets, and consequently, prices are very high. The record-high king crab prices do not seem to drive customers away. For example, prices for 9 – 12 count leg and claw crab have been selling for as much as USD 28 per lb, but customers are still buying.

Apparently, consumers are not used to buying king crab through the retail sector, but rather through the restaurant sector, where the end price would be much higher than in the retail stores. Menu prices for king crab legs at restaurants are as high as USD 80 per lb. Compared to that, a retail price of USD 28 is a bargain. Supplies are expected to be somewhat higher in 2021 than in 2020, but this is not likely to affect prices. 

Therefore, the shift to home consumption of crabs could become a lasting trend, even when the restaurant sector re-opens. Furthermore, prices may continue to climb for some time, despite the good supply situation.  In all, 2021 looks to be an excellent year for the crab sector, no matter how the COVID-19 pandemic develops.  

Tags:  crab, demand, prices, COVID-19


Authorities seek to streamline China inspection procedures

Seafood businesses around the world are trying to negotiate a new trade landscape in one of the world’s most important markets for fisheries and aquaculture products. This follows China’s introduction of additional customs inspection and documentation procedures intended to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 at the end of last year. In June 2020, reports surfaced of the discovery of traces of the COVID-19 virus on a chopping board used to prepare imported salmon at a Beijing wholesale market and imported seafood products came under renewed scrutiny. Under the new procedures implemented by the General Administration of the Customs of the People’s Republic of China (GACC) from September 2020 onwards, imported cold-chain food products cannot be sold in China without a negative nucleic acid test for the presence of the virus, an inspection and quarantine certificate, a disinfection certificate and all required traceability information. Overseas manufacturers of imported food products and packaging that test positive for COVID-19 will have the processing of their import declaration suspended for seven days each time for the first two occurrences and 28 days for each subsequent positive test for the same manufacturer.

Although officials have stressed that the additional checks are preemptive measures and there has been no recorded transmission of COVID-19 to a person from eating imported seafood, concerns over the perceived risk associated with imported seafood have spread amongst Chinese consumers. This has reportedly translated into a shift in preferences towards processed seafood options at the expense of raw and frozen products, which in turn has affected sales of imported salmon, Alaska pollock and shrimp.

Chinese authorities are looking for ways to speed up the inspection process, particularly by avoiding duplication of testing and disinfection procedures, amidst calls by various stakeholders to ease COVID-19 restrictions to prevent further declines in seafood revenues. At the same time, a number of governments elsewhere in the world are actively working with food exporters and other businesses along the supply chain to ensure the new requirements are fully understood and complied with when exporting to the Chinese market.

Tags: SPS, Certification, Market Access, Traceability, COVID-19, China


Consumption of aquatic products in China

Chinese aquatic product consumption is directly affected by population, family income, urbanization, and dietary habits. As income rises among Chinese families, there have been significant improvements in lifestyle and quality of diet. Food consumption has shifted from basic survival to a form of enjoyment and social activity. With this shift, cereal consumption decreased while demand for proteins, including meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, increased significantly. 

As one of the best protein sources, aquatic products have established themselves as an essential part of the typical Chinese family meal. China is by far the world’s largest consumer of aquatic products, consuming 36 percent of the total global production in 2017. China increased its share of global aquatic product-consumption from 10 percent in 1961 to 36 percent in 2017.

FAO estimates that annual Chinese aquatic products consumption2 was 41 kg per capita per year in 2018. By 2030, China is expected to account for 38% of the global consumption of aquatic products3

At present, in China, the production and imports of aquatic products meets domestic consumption, both in urban and rural areas. There is also a clear trend of increased consumption of fisheries and aquaculture products. Nonetheless, this upward trend curve also indicates the characteristic of ostensible transformation and upgrade.

Consumption of aquatic products has grown in both urban and rural populations. According to the Chinese Statistics Yearbook of 2018, aquatic product consumption in the urban and rural population was 14.8 kg per person and 7.4 kg per person, respectively, 4.2% and 37% higher than that of a decade ago.

Tags: aquatic products, China, consumption


World exports declined due to COVID-19 impact

Total value of edible fish exports declined by 8 percent in 2020 over 2019. The total value was USD 136 billion, down from USD 147.1 billion. China remained the main exporting country of edible fishery products with total exports amounting to USD 18.3 billion, despite an 8 percent drop in export values in 2020. Norway is the second major exporter of edible fish, mainly cultured Atlantic salmon. This country, too, was impacted by COVID-19 in 2020. Total exports declined by almost USD 1 billion to USD 10.8 billion in 2020.  

Last summer, Chinese authorities claimed that frozen Atlantic salmon carried the COVID-19 virus and was the reason for the second wave of COVID-19 in Beijing. This news led to a standstill of Norwegian exports to the Chinese market. The accusation was not founded in any scientific ground, and the market was soon reopened, but consumer confidence was difficult to recover. Viet Nam is the third major exporting country, with exports worth USD 8.7 billion in 2020, a decline from USD 9.2 billion in 2019. The country was hit by lower exports to the Chinese market and lower exports of frozen pangasius fillets to Europe and the United States of America.  

India, the fourth major fish exporter globally, experienced a USD 1 billion drop in the export value of edible fish during 2020. For this country, the lockdown due to COVID-19 led to closures of processing plants and less shrimp production from farms. The top three exporters, namely Thailand, the Netherlands, and Ecuador, saw only minor declines in their export performance. Thailand managed to ship larger quantities of canned tuna, which balanced lower export earnings from shrimp and squid. The Netherlands is mainly a logistic hub for fishery products, and good logistic performance was vital in the difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ecuador managed to keep the export value stable by lowering shrimp prices dramatically. Like Norway, Ecuadorian shrimp was accused of carrying the COVID-19 virus into China, and several companies were banned from exports throughout2020. At present, all these problems have been overcome, and companies are again allowed to access the Chinese market. 

Exports of edible fishery product1 (in million USD) 









19 574 

20 003 

20 408 

21 544 

19 937 

18 337 


8 820 

10 563 

11 119 

11 757 

11 719 

10 770 

Viet Nam 

6 800 

7 400 

7 700 

8 900 

9 200 

8 700 


4 775 

5 517 

7 069 

6 786 

6 761 

5 736 


5 397 

5 606 

5 837 

5 814 

5 602 

5 426 


4 208 

4 656 

5 127 

5 536 

5 571 

5 384 


3 506 

3 754 

4 468 

4 805 

5 450 

5 359 


4 360 

4 709 

5 606 

6 261 

6 136 

5 318 


4 686 

5 007 

5 310 

5 382 

5 644 

4 833 


3 603 

3 862 

4 202 

4 469 

4 493 

4 823 

Russian Federation 

2 827 

3 064 

3 548 

4 360 

4 733 

4 723 


3 691 

4 046 

4 648 

5 140 

4 750 

4 497 


3 682 

4 444 

4 189 

4 873 

4 520 

4 385 

United States of America 

5 592 

5 417 

5 762 

5 634 

5 252 

4 385 


3 662 

4 108 

4 270 

4 449 

4 252 

4 111 


1 704 

1 901 

2 149 

2 493 

2 484 

2 644 


2 458 

2 599 

2 639 

2 707 

2 469 

2 395 

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 

2 045 

2 206 

2 460 

2 387 

2 576 

2 097 


1 865 

1 983 

2 118 

2 018 

2 074 


1 744 

1 785 

1 739 

2 042 

2 144 

2 033 


24 845 

27 751 

31 130 

32 796 

31 390 

27 959 


117 980 

130 263 

141 361 

150 252 

147 103 

135 989 

Source TDM and author’s estimates 

Tags: Statistics, Exports


The Maldives – Sustainable tuna fisheries

Fisheries are as much a part of the Maldives as the sparkling waters that surround its 26 atolls. This tiny nation in the middle of the Indian Ocean is the ninth-largest exporter of skipjack tuna globally, on par with far larger fishing nations such as Indonesia, India and Japan. Perhaps more astoundingly, almost every one of these fish has been caught individually, hauled onto specialised flat-backed boats by hand using pole and line. Aside from the fact that these boats are no longer sail-powered, in essence, this fishery is essentially the same as it was in bygone eras.

Maldivian fisheries are gaining increased recognition internationally for their sustainable practices. Pole and line fishing has many intrinsically sustainable aspects, with minimal bycatch and generally lower intensity when compared to other tuna fishing methods. Recent studies have also shown that Maldivian fisheries are fuel-efficient, needing 60% less fuel per ton of fish than the world average*1. At the same time, skipjack matures quickly and is highly reproductive, making stocks more resilient than other tunas. Beyond environmental sustainability, Maldivian fisheries are vital for poverty alleviation and food security, particularly in remote atolls. 

While fisheries have historically been the mainstay of the Maldivian economy, this title has since been claimed by the lucrative tourism industry, which pre-pandemic accounted for almost one-third of GDP. The collapse in international travel has had a profound impact on the Maldivian economy. While the Maldives reopened to tourists in July 2020, their numbers have been significantly reduced, dropping 67.4% between 2020-2021. The pandemic has reinvigorated calls for innovation and diversification of national economic structure, and the government of the Maldives has said that it will be increasing support for fisheries and agriculture.

The Maldives provides a shining example of artisanal fisheries that are environmentally and socially sustainable by tradition. For the communities that rely on tuna fishing, it is hoped that consumer awareness of the Maldives story may help support their livelihoods.

GLOBEFISH has just released the publication “Market Opportunities for Maldives Tuna”, which provides a comprehensive analysis of production and trade. Trends in price, volume and processing across main export commodities are all covered, with analysis of import profiles for established markets and identification of potential markets and new products. Trade policies and regulations of major tuna importers are also addressed, with a focus on preferential access and tariffs, followed by the potential impact of the pandemic on tuna fisheries in the Maldives.

Tags: Tuna, Exports, National, COVID-19, Sustainability, Small-scale 


Social sustainability in the fish value chain: a general outlook

Fish is one of the most traded food commodities worldwide, with millions of people depending on fisheries and aquaculture activities as a source of jobs, income, and livelihoods. FAO estimates that 59.5 million people are directly engaged in the primary sector of capture fisheries and aquaculture. 

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), the fisheries sector is one of the most challenging and hazardous occupations to ensure decent work for all fishers. In addition, social issues have become a major concern in the sector of fisheries and aquaculture due to human and labour rights abuses found at different stages of the fish value chain, especially in fish harvesting, farming and processing stages. 

As a result of the increased awareness, industry associations, labour unions and policymakers have undertaken initiatives to address the existing weaknesses, seek remedies, and improve performance through increased monitoring, transparency, traceability and certification. 

Furthermore, since the COVID-19 outbreak fish value chains have been disrupted, causing negative impacts on supply, demand, and logistics and adverse social and business consequences affecting fish workers, small-scale fishers, fish farmers, fish companies, and restaurants, among others. Employment in the sector has been affected by COVID-19, and subsequently, livelihoods have also been impacted. 

From a social sustainability angle, some of the main challenges that the fisheries and aquaculture face are: 

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound and immediate economic and social impact on people’s lives, especially where their primary income source comes from fisheries. Mainly vulnerable groups and communities, such as women, small primary producers and individual fishers, were the worst affected by the pandemic. Thus, there has been a widespread reduction in family and community incomes. 
  • With the COVID-19 outbreak, many fish workers find themselves in critical family situations, associated with the family income being severely affected because other household family members had lost their jobs. 
  • There is an apparent informality of working relationships in the sector, where access to social protection is minimal. Moreover, the seasonality of the work is still a problem if the sector is not formalized. 
  • Many small-scale fish workers and fishers do not have access to healthcare services or social security in fisheries, where fish workers may be placed at significant risk. 
  • Public health, crew welfare, and observer safety should be prioritized. Generally, high seas fisheries are manned by foreign and migrant workers who left their countries and were initially hired temporarily. However, with COVID-19 mitigation measures and the introduction of travel bans and border entry restrictions, the return to their country of citizenship or residence has often been disrupted. 
  • The prevalence of illegal workers means that many of them are unable to access healthcare services. 

Therefore, it is important to recall that countries, by adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, have committed to leaving no one behind in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and recognized human dignity as fundamental to reach these goals.  

The relevant SDGs associated with fostering and improving socially sustainable and responsible practices in the fisheries and aquaculture sector are 

  • SDG1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere;  
  • SDG2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture;  
  • SDG5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;  
  • SDG8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;  
  • SDG10: Reduce inequality within and among countries;  
  • SDG14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development;  
  • SDG17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.  

Tags: IUU, Global, SDG, Social Responsibility, Social Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Social Issues, Decent Work  



Marine Seaweed “sea grapes” is successfully farmed and marketed in Singapore

A private company located in Singapore has collaborated with the Singapore Food Agency, the government wing responsible for national food security, and successfully farmed and marketed the high-value seaweed Caulerpa Lentillifera. This type of seaweed is popularly known as Umibudo in Japan and “sea grapes” elsewhere. The word “sea grapes” is a direct English translation of the Japanese word ‘Umibudo’. 

Fresh Sea grapes have a crunchy texture. Its tiny bubbles have a fresh, ocean-like flavour and salty taste, making it suitable for fresh use in food preparation, namely salad, sushi, and similar items. This seaweed species grows in the shallow waters around Okinawa, Japan and in some other areas in Southeast Asia. 

In Singapore, locally produced fresh “sea grapes” have successfully been implemented in some upscale restaurants and hotels. The ex-farm price of fresh local ‘‘sea grapes” is USD 15/kg, compared with the Japanese origin imported Umibudo sold at USD 70/kg in Singapore. Dehydrated ‘’sea grapes’‘ are available through web portals such as Amazon, Lazada and others. 

To accelerate the development of local seaweed aquaculture, the government of Singapore has implemented public-private partnership programmes in support of brand training. 

In cooperation with education institutions, private companies in Singapore are currently developing sea grape burger patties, sausage, jelly, jam, ice-cream, plant-based (green) caviar, and sea grape extract for skincare beauty products. 

Tags: Regional, Markets, Seaweed 


COFI Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture

Celebrating the FAO Code of Conduct, Acknowledging the Achievements and Securing a Sustainable Future

In February 2021, FAO country members endorsed the COFI Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture at the 34th Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI 34) in the context of the High-Level event to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.

The COFI Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture is the result of an extensive consultative process to acknowledge the achievements of the fisheries and aquaculture sector since the endorsement of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in 1995 and to gather collective momentum in tackling the challenges and opportunities to secure the long-term sustainability of the sector. The COFI Declaration for Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture is available here.

Tags: FAO, fisheries, aquaculture, sustainability, CCRF, Code of Conduct, sustainable development, COFI


Trade figures reveal severe Brexit impact

Recent trade figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) show the scale of the impact of the logistical difficulties, market challenges, and additional administrative burden associated with the Brexit transition. According to the ONS, the value of UK exports of all goods to the European Union (EU) dropped by 41 percent compared with  January 2020. The seafood sector has been amongst the worst affected, registering an 83 percent decline over the same period. 

The UK’s Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has reported slightly different figures for fish, showing a 79 percent decline in fish exports to the EU to a mere GBP 5.3 million for the month. The Scottish salmon sector, for whom France is a major market, has been particularly badly hit, with the FDF estimating EU-destined salmon exports of only GBP 500 000 for January, compared with GBP 27.7 million in the same month last year. The COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to a general market downturn, but the FDF report shows a decline of only 11 percent in UK food and drink exports to the rest of the world, compared with a 75 percent decline for exports destined for the EU, suggesting that Brexit-related issues are the most important factor. 

The range of new post-Brexit trade requirements that have been introduced relates to the ongoing change in the UK’s status to that of a third country outside EU rules, which entails additional border checks, paperwork and other added costs. While the UK has adopted a phased approach to implementing mandatory customs checks on imports from the EU, allowing a grace period for businesses extending to October, the EU introduced customs checks on UK exports as of 1 January  2021. Overall, UK fish exporters have estimated they are losing around GBP 1 million per day due to the various trade difficulties. Reports from seafood shippers indicate an increase in the average time to market from 22 hours to up to 39 hours, and EU buyers have responded in many cases by canceling orders. At the same time, a recent survey by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that nearly a quarter of small UK firms have temporarily halted sales to the EU. These businesses are particularly affected by the current disruption as they often depend on shared shipping arrangements.  

While there is some hope that traders merely need time to understand the new regulations and streamline their operations, stakeholders have noted that some of the new requirements are yet to be introduced and that the situation could potentially worsen. 

Tags: Salmon, Statistics, Exports, TBT, National, Brexit, UK, EU

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