China reducing its squid fleet

The Chinese authorities have announced that the country will be reducing its squid fleet operating in international waters. The Chinese fleet, which consisted of over 600 vessels, accounts for about 70 percent of the global squid catch. The fleet has been particularly active in South America, both in the Atlantic and the Pacific. According to Chinese authorities, environmental concerns and the condition of the stocks are the reasons for reducing the fleet.

Tags: China, squid, stocks


Record imports of Alaska pollock in the Republic of Korea

The Republic of Korea is importing more and more Alaska pollock. Imports amounted to 28 997 tonnes in October, up from 7 109 tonnes in October 2020, representing cumulative imports for 2021 (as of the end of October) of 173 346 tonnes, up by 39 percent from 124 531 tonnes a year earlier. The leading supplier by far was the Russian Federation, which accounted for no less than 169 213 tonnes or 97.6 percent of the total. 

Tags: Alaska pollock, Russian Federation


WTO Event on the fisheries subsidies in Latin America

In line with the ongoing discussions and negotiations on fisheries subsidies since 2001, WTO organised a joint online event with the School of Mexico (El Colegio de México) on 10 November 2021. The event examined the impact of a possible agreement on fisheries subsidies would have on Latin America. A panel discussion took place during the event. Panellists agreed on the paramount importance of reaching an agreement on fisheries subsidies at the next Ministerial Conference (MC12) to underline the multilateral trading system's role in addressing global problems. A key challenge addressed in the discussion was the design of a balance of rights and obligations, including special and differential treatment. Panellists also indicated the complexity of negotiations illustrating diverse challenges in the current economic and environmental diplomacy scenario, including the interaction of international regimes and coalitions of members at the multilateral level. 

The video recording of the event is available here. (in Spanish)

Background on fisheries subsidies negotiations at WTO 

In 2001, WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies were launched at the Doha Ministerial Conference with a mandate to clarify and improve existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies. In 2015, the mandate was further elaborated at the WTO Hong Kong Ministerial Conference, including a call for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. In 2017, at the last WTO Ministerial Conference (MC11, Buenos Aires), countries agreed on a work programme to speed up the process. 

The next WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) will take place in Geneva (Switzerland) from 30 November to 3 December 2021. 

Tags: WTO, Global, Regional, SDG, Subsidies, Fisheries subsidies, Latin America, MC12, SDG14


ASEAN: A short review on Fisheries

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an economic union comprising ten member states in Southeast Asia: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam. 

In 2019, the ASEAN countries harvested 44 million tonnes of fisheries and aquaculture products, comprising 25.5 million tonnes of aquaculture production, including seaweeds. In terms of total aquaculture production, 14 million tonnes constituted food fish (finfish, crustaceans, and bivalves), representing 17 percent of the total global output under this category. Indonesia, Viet Nam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Myanmar were the top five producers. 

In 2019, the dominant fish species farmed in the ASEAN region were marine shrimp, freshwater prawn, Pangasius catfish, walking catfish, milkfish, tilapia, Asian seabass, and a group of marine finfish. 

The high-value shrimp and prawn (white vannamei, black tiger, freshwater Macrobrachium) are the primary crustaceans farmed in the ASEAN region for exports and domestic markets. In the region’s aquaculture history, pangasius farming in Viet Nam has resulted as the most successful export-oriented venture, followed by shrimp. 

In Indonesia, large aquaculture production of milkfish and walking catfish contributed significantly to the country’s national food security programme as the cheaper alternative to marine pelagic fish. Meanwhile, farmed shrimp and tilapia remained the main species for the export trade. Indonesia is also the largest producer and exporter of seaweed in the region.  

Similarly, tilapia and milkfish in the Philippines have been the top fish products providing food security to the population. The Philippines is the second-largest seaweed producer and the leading processor of carrageenan (processed seaweed) in the ASEAN region.  

During the COVID-19 pandemic, overall business in the marine aquaculture sector has been seriously affected due to its dependency on the restaurant industry. 

Fisheries and aquaculture exports in ASEAN

During the last decade, Viet Nam emerged as the top exporter of fisheries and aquaculture products in the ASEAN region with growing export revenue. Exports also increased from Indonesia, Myanmar, Malaysia, supported mainly by the aquaculture sector. 

Fish imports in the ASEAN region are basically associated with re-export, (re)processing, and domestic consumption. Malaysia and Singapore are net imports of fisheries and aquaculture products meant for domestic consumption. Thailand, Viet Nam and the Philippines import frozen tuna, shrimp, and others for reprocessing and export.

ASEAN Fisheries and Aquaculture Exports(in USD million)
Country 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Viet Nam 5 981 6 799 7 557 8 600 8 410
Thailand 5 795 5 938 5 965 5 737 5 613
Indonesia 3 874 4 206 4 475 4 405 4 839
Myanmar 538 664 742 773 837
Malaysia 710 715 759 827 890
The Philippines 721 862 902 799 806
Singapore 353 331 347 301 232
Cambodia * * * *
Brunei * * * * *
Lao PDR * * * * *
ASEAN-Total 17 972 19 515 20 747 21 442 21 627
Source: National statistics;(Note:* less than one million)

Tags: ASEAN, Export, Products, Trade


Peru trade of fisheries and aquaculture products in the first half of 2021

Peruvian exports of fisheries and aquaculture products totalled USD 1 320 million between January-June 2021, 173.3 percent higher than 2020. Non-traditional fisheries exports reached USD 815 million in the first half of 2021, which represented an increase of 66 percent compared to the same period of 2020. Thus, the values reached by Peruvian fishing exports in the first half of 2021 were similar to those before the pandemic. As a comparison, in the first half of 2020, exports from the subsector had fallen by 56.8 percent compared to the same period in 2019 due to the impacts of COVID-19. 

Concerning traditional fish exports (mainly fishmeal), China is the primary market (USD 988 million), representing 74.9 percent in the first half of 2021. This figure reflects growth of 305.5 percent compared to the USD 244 million of the same period of 2020. In second place is Canada, with USD 43 million, followed by Japan (USD 43 million), Belgium (USD 42 million), and Denmark (USD 33 million). Fishmeal ranked first in this subsector, with global shipments reaching USD 1 042 million between January-June 2021, an increase of 196.6 percent compared to the same period of 2020, followed by fish liver oil with a total of USD 278 million, 111.2 percent more than in the first half of the previous year. 

As for non-traditional exports of the fishing sector (products for direct human consumption), China is again positioned as the leading destination of Peruvian exports, with USD 171 million or 21 percent of total exports of these products in the first six months of 2021, followed by the United States of America (USD 157 million), representing 19.3 percent of exports. For non-traditional shipments, frozen fish is positioned as the main product of the subsector, with USD 214 million in the first half of the year, an increase of 240.9 percent compared to the same period of 2020, followed by shipments of cuttlefish and squid (USD 95 million; +270.4 percent), frozen fillets (USD 55 million; +148.9 percent), frozen shrimp, prawns and other whole decapods (USD 46 million; +95.7 percent). 

Tags: Cephalopods, Statistics, Exports, Fishmeal or Fish oil, Imports.  


COVID-19 impacted trade differently in major markets

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of the hospitality sector for much of 2020, reduced fish production, restricted travel, and disrupted logistics. These factors, among others, have had a profound impact on demand for and distribution of fish and fish products, leading to an overall reduction in global fish trade. The United States of America and the European Union are the largest import markets for fisheries and aquaculture products, together accounting for close to 40 percent of imports by volume. Both saw disruption to trade in 2020, although the path out of the pandemic and national responses in each led to clearly differing impacts. While both saw the import volumes fall, as seen in the figure below, the drop was far more significant for the European Union when compared to the United States of America. Similarly, while the European Union saw a substantial decrease in import value between 2019 and 2020, US import value increased in 2020. While the explanations and market dynamics behind these fluctuations are complex, this text has sought to highlight and briefly discuss one aspect of the impact of the pandemic on each market, using a graph to illustrate change relative to the status quo.

Tags: COVID-19, fish trade, imports, demand


Record volumes of king crab

Norway exported 1 900 tonnes of king crab worth USD 93 million in the first nine months of the year.  This translated to an increase in volume of 36 per cent. Export value increased by USD 38 million, or 71 per cent, compared with the same period last year. The Republic of Korea, Hong Kong SAR and the United States of America have been the largest recipients of Norwegian king crab. 

Demand for both live and frozen king crab has never been higher, which is reflected in increased export prices and increased volumes. The export price of king crab is double in value compared to 20 years ago. 

Tags: King crab, Norway, exports


Ecuador signed a cooperation agreement to promote shrimp in China

The National Chamber of Aquaculture (CNA) of Ecuador signed a cooperation agreement with the Ministry of Production, Foreign Trade, Investment and Fisheries (Ecuador) to promote Ecuadorian shrimp in the Chinese market. The agreement aims to implement a campaign to boost consumer confidence in China and position Ecuadorian products as safe and with premium quality. The CNA wants to publicise the country’s high standards for shrimp and food safety required by international markets. 

The private sector will finance the campaign, and during its first phase, there will be strong promotion through digital media and alliances in China. 

China is Ecuador’s number one export market for shrimp and had a 42 percent share in total shrimp exports during the first eight months of 2021, while total shrimp exports from Ecuador were 535 000 tonnes during this period. Over the last five years, Ecuador has been the top supplier of shrimp to China. 

Shrimp imports in China softened this year after staying strong in 2019 and 2020.  Total imports dropped 12.8 percent to 437 000 tonnes during January - September 2021 compared with the same period in 2020.  However, the decline from Ecuador was smaller at 7.3 percent. Despite this fact, Ecuador’s share in the total supply of imported shrimp in China increased from 45.5 percent in 2019 to 53 percent in 2020 and nearly 57 percent in 2021. 

In preparation for the 2022 Lunar New Year, which falls on 1 February 2022, shrimp imports in China will likely intensify during the next three months in favour of Ecuadorean shrimp. Farmed shrimp production in most Asian countries will be seasonally low from November until February/March next year. 

Tags: China, Shrimp, Export, Ecuador 


Mexican shrimp exports to the United States of America resumed

Mexico is re-authorized to export shrimp into the United States of America. The Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development of Mexico announced on 19 October 2021 that the US government has given back the certification of Mexican shrimp in order to be exported into this market. 

Since 30 April 2021, the US government suspended imports from Mexico because the Marine Turtle Protection Programme of Mexico is no longer compatible with the Marine Turtle Conservation Act in the United States of America. Therefore, Mexican shrimp obtained by capture cannot be exported into the US market until Mexico is granted authorization. 

As a result, different Mexican bodies, such as the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Conapesca), the Federal Bureau of Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), and the Secretary of Navy joined forces to carry out preventive and corrective actions to follow-up on the infraction qualification procedures. 

According to Conapesca, in 2020, around 250 thousand tonnes of shrimp were produced, of which 28.8 percent was from capture and 71.2 percent from aquaculture farms. 

Tags: Regional, Exports, Market Access, Shrimp, Imports, Markets, Shrimp, American Market


Progress under SDG 14

The 10 Goals under SDG 14, life below water, are as diverse as they are ambitious, covering a plethora of current issues ranging from safeguarding the rights of artisanal fishers to increasing research budgets for marine science.

  • SDG 14.1 By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution 
  • 14.1.a Index of coastal eutrophication 
  • Progress 14.1.a Eutrophication is high and increasing 

Land-based pollution and marine debris pose severe challenges for coastal water quality and marine ecosystems. Coastal eutrophication is associated with harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, fish kills, seagrass die-off, and other adverse events. 14.1.a measures the concentration of chlorophyll a against a baseline of levels between 2000-2004. Higher concentrations of chlorophyll a indicate greater algal growth, which is considered a close indicator of eutrophication. The data shows that eutrophication is more significant than at the beginning of the millennia and is generally increasing. In 2019 the concentration of chlorophyll a was 6 percent greater than baseline values (2000-2004).

  • SDG 14.3 Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels 
  • 14.3.1 Average marine acidity (pH) measured at agreed suite of representative sampling stations 

Progress Worsening 

Ocean acidification is increasing, and the acidity of the ocean’s water is increasingly unstable. The ocean’s waters are the single greatest sink for carbon dioxide, absorbing the equivalent of 23 percent of all COemissions from human activity. As water absorbs carbon dioxide, it acidifies, which can destabilise marine ecosystems. Ocean acidification has a direct negative impact on marine life. For example, it may lead to coral reef bleaching, which inhibits marine ecosystem services, with profound negative implications for broader marine ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities. This indicator is closely tied to 14.1.a, as when algal growth dies and decomposes, it will release carbon dioxide directly into the water, increasing its acidity. 

Global Calculated Ocean Surface pH Values


Tags: SDG 14.1, Ocean acidification


The Russian Federation and Norway cut cod and haddock quotas in the Barents Sea

In mid-October, the Joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission (JNRFC) met remotely to set the quotas for 2022, and they agreed on a 20 percent cut in the 2022 Barents Sea cod total allowable catch (TAC), to 708 480 tonnes. JNRFC also agreed to a 15 percent carry-over on uncaught cod from the 2021 quota. For the 2022 Barents Sea haddock quota, JNRFC agreed on a 23 percent cut to 178 532 tonnes.

The parties also agreed on a capelin quota for 2022. After several years with no quota, the capelin quota for 2022 was set at 70 000 tonnes. Norway’s share of this quota is 41 950 tonnes. This is the first time since 2018 that capelin fishing has been opened in the Barents Sea. 

Quota cooperation in North Atlantic 

The Northeast Atlantic is one of the richest fishing grounds globally and one of the most monitored and assessed fishing areas. The three main pelagic species in the area –Atlantic mackerel, Atlanto-Scandinavian herring and blue whiting, are all considered sustainable fisheries. However, the major coastal states fishing on these resources have failed to reach agreements about quotas or the distribution of quotas. This predicament, and the absence of a management strategy for these resources, caused the withdrawal of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of all three fisheries. A main criticism of the fisheries has been that the coastal countries have set unilateral quotas, often in violation of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) advice. 

Norway to grant 10-year permits for mesopelagic fish 

The Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries has decided to grant permits for trial fishing of mesopelagic species, like lanternfish (Myctophidae). The licenses will be granted for up to ten years, given that such trial fishing entails heavy investments. Previously, trial permits have only been granted for one year. According to the Ministry, there are extensive resources of mesopelagic fish in the ocean, but these resources have not been exploited until now. 

Marketing fresh mackerel in Japan 

The Norwegian pelagic exporters have come up with a new marketing gimmick on the Japanese market. Borrowing an idea from French winemakers, who each year introduce their “Beaujolais nouveau”, Norwegians are now marketing fresh mackerel in Japan under the name “Saba nouveau”. Saba is the Japanese name for mackerel, and the Norwegian mackerel is very popular in Japan for its fat and oily texture. While the Japanese eat an estimated 120 000 tonnes of Norwegian mackerel every year, Norwegians only eat about 9 000 tonnes. 

In September, Norwegian exporters flew fresh mackerel from Oslo to Tokyo via Helsinki for the first time. The fresh mackerel is a seasonal product that is at its best in the period from September-November. 

Tags: Mackerel, Norway, the Russian Federation, Barents Sea, Cod


Peru mahi mahi trade

Peru's mahi mahi fishery includes more than 4 200 fishers and is one of the most important artisanal fisheries in the country. Peru is the world's leading mahi mahi producer, with more than 70 percent of its exports to the United States of America. Critical issues challenging this fishery include the high number of unlicensed vessels in the fishery and the lack of effective national and international management of mahi mahi, a highly migratory species. The fishery also needs additional data on how fisheries interact with other species, including sea turtles and endangered sharks.  

In 2018, imports of fresh mahi mahi into the United States of America reached a record 7 500 tonnes. This figure subsequently dropped to 6 600 tonnes in 2019 and 3 900 tonnes in 2020. Ecuador is the most important exporter of this product, with 2 000 tonnes recorded in 2018 and more than 3 000 tonnes in 2019. In the first eight months of 2021, Ecuador continued to dominate the market with 2 000 tonnes, nearly 65 percent of US imports. Traditionally, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala have been important exporters of this product, but this trend has shifted recently. Peru has never been a major US supplier of fresh mahi mahi. Exports fluctuate between 5 200 tons per year. 

The market of frozen mahi mahi fillets is more important than the one for whole fresh mahi mahi. Imports of this product reached some 20 000 tonnes in 2014 but fell to about 11 700 tonnes in 2019. In the last two years, they increased considerably, and in the first eight months of 2021 they reached 16 200 tonnes, so it is likely it will return to 20 000 tonnes at the end of the current year. Peru is the first supplier of this product to the US market. On average, Peru accounts for 40 percent of imports of frozen mahi mahi fillets into the United States of America. Ecuador is the second-largest exporter of this product but reaches only about 3 900 tonnes on average. Peru has increased its exports since 2013, while Ecuador had to reduce exports.

Tags: Cephalopods, Statistics, Exports, Imports

Share this page