The United States of America ban on imports of seafood from Russia may impact China’s fish processors

The United States of America announced its most recent sanction on Russia. According to the Executive Order released on 11 March, the US will prohibit seafood imports from Russia. Businesses with contracts in place before the Executive Order may still receive the products before 25 March 2022. It is still unclear if processed goods in third countries with their origin in Russia are also affected by the ban. China’s fish processors are worried. For China, a big player in the global fish processing market, the ban may have a chain effect. For example, many Alaska pollocks captured by Russian vessels are imported into China for processing. In 2021, 25 544 tons of Alaska pollocks with a total value of around USD 74.9 million imported into the US market were from China, with their origin in Russia. There are also concerns about cod, salmon, and crab.

Tags: Imports, ban, processing


Freight prices stable despite oil surge

Freight prices have thus far remained resilient in response to the spike in oil prices seen in early March. The Brent Index rose from USD 96 per barrel in late February 2022 to USD 127 per barrel in early March before falling back to just over USD 100 in mid-March. As always, the market is unpredictable, but for the moment, it appears that this oil shock has been relatively muted when compared to previous occasions. Any further bans on Russian oil would inevitably cause prices to rise again. Otherwise, prices will likely continue to increase steadily, as they were before the conflict in Ukraine.

At present, higher oil prices appear to have had little impact on freight prices. Indeed, according to Drewry’s World Container Index, the price of a 40 ft container has fallen by 6 percent month on month in mid-March. The fact that, at present, the price spike has been relatively contained is certainly a contributing factor, and while marine fuel prices peaked in line with oil prices, they have since fallen, albeit at a slower pace than oil. Another factor could be the increased margins now being enjoyed in the shipping industry. 2021 saw a meteoric rise in sea freight costs, with global indexes for shipping almost tripling. This has left freight companies with more leeway to absorb costs, with fuel making up a smaller proportion of costs than before. Similarly, there has been little direct impact thus far on global air freight costs, with prices in line with those seen throughout 2021.\

Tags: Freight, prices


2021 non-canned tuna trade revived strongly in the United States of America.

Consumer demand for fresh and frozen tuna that falls under the non-canned tuna category displayed steady growth in the United States of America during the last decade. Although there was a setback in the market in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the restaurant business severely, demand bounced back in 2021 with a 21 percent rise in imports compared with 2020. The revival of the foodservice sector in 2021, especially in restaurant dining, boosted market demand. Fresh tuna, particularly the bluefin varieties (Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern bluefin tunas) and high-quality bigeye tuna, are mainly used for sashimi and sushi preparations in the restaurant and catering sectors. Fresh yellowfin tuna is generally processed into fillets and steaks for sales to supermarkets and restaurants. The popular frozen tuna fillets and steaks contributed with 57.6 percent of total non-canned tuna imports in 2021.

Tags: Tuna, trade, USA

2021 non-canned tuna trade revived strongly in the United States of America. Table
USA: Annual imports of fresh and frozen tuna, 2017-2021 (tonnes)
Source: US National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries)
Tuna/Product group 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Change 2021/20
Fresh/chilled, dressed (G&G) 23 180 23 037 22 689 16 302 21 354 +31.0 %
Frozen tuna, whole and dressed 6 126 4 654 6 246 2 902 5 561 +91.6 %
Frozen tuna loins, fillets, steaks 30 393 34 367 40 854 33 266 36 768 +10.5 %
Total tuna, fresh and frozen 59 699 62 058 69 789 52 470 63 683 +21.3 %
2021 non-canned tuna trade revived strongly in the United States of America. Chart one


Norwegian exports to Russia and East Europe

The conflict in Ukraine has prompted some questions about what impact it will have on the seafood trade. In the case of Norwegian exports, the answer seems to be somewhat limited.

The Russian Federation accounts for a total of 0.2 percent of Norwegian seafood exports by value, and in 2021 amounted to NOK 250 million (USD 28.5 million), while Ukraine accounts for about 1.8 percent or NOK 2.2 billion (USD 250 million). Exports to the Russian Federation were dramatically reduced in 2014 (Crimea event), and the present crisis will most probably reduce direct trade to near zero.

Norwegian exports to Russia and East Europe. Table
Norwegian exports
MT NOK 1000 % MT % NOK
Russia 4 200 250 339 0.1 0.2
Ukraine 63 355 2 201 621 2.1 1.8
Total 3 039 234 120 813 305 100.0 100.0
Russia 28 448
Ukraine 250 184
Total 13 728 785


Inflation worrying the lobster industry

US consumers are becoming increasingly sensitive to rising inflation, and this may affect consumption of luxury seafood like lobster. The international demand for lobster in general is not helping in this situation. Demand, particularly in China, is growing again, and supplies have been limited for several reasons. Prices are therefore on the way up. 

Tags: lobster, inflation


Fisheries and aquaculture and International Women’s Day

Women have an important role in the fisheries and aquaculture sector, in particular in small-scale fisheries, where women are the heart of many communities, contributing to the livelihoods, the organization of the households, and taking care of future generations. Acknowledging the role of women in small-scale fisheries and aquaculture is essential toward inclusive gender equality and equity in the sector.

2022 is a special year since the United Nations General Assembly has declared it the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture (IYAFA 2022). FAO is the lead agency for celebrating the year in collaboration with other relevant organizations and bodies of the UN system. IYAFA 2022 Global Action Plan calls attention to the women working in fisheries, and it aims to shine a light on their contributions, which are often invisible.

In addition, the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines) reinforces the importance of an equal participation of women and men in organizations and decision-making processes. In this regard, policies and legislation must support equality, and both women and men must have access to appropriate technologies and services to carry out their work. More information about gender equality in the SSF Guidelines is available here.

Having inclusive approaches focusing on equality is fundamental and can generate immediate effects toward equity and foster a balance participation and distribution of benefits in the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

Tags: IWD2022, IYAFA 2022, SSF Guidelines


Antarctic krill

The Antarctic krill resource is enormous, although no one seems willing to set an actual figure. Based on some estimates, it could be several hundred million tonnes.

In 2020, it was estimated that about 450 000 tonnes were caught after China entered the field. Norway accounts for about 50 percent of the total catch. Krill meal and krill oil are increasingly used as raw materials for fish feed, primarily in the salmon farming industry.

Tags: Antartic krill, Norway, China 


African aquaculture

African aquaculture production is gradually increasing, but progress is still slow. The performance of African countries in aquaculture cannot be considered only by absolute production levels or contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), particularly considering the significant variations between them regarding the availability of water, the macro-economic context, access to capture fisheries resources and other factors. Additional parameters addressing the role of aquaculture as a source of food supply and different macro-economic variables, such as population size and natural resource endowment, shall also be considered.

Tags: Africa, Aquaculture


Norwegian exports off to a record start

Norwegian exports are still growing, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and logistics problems around the world. In January 2022, Norwegian seafood exports amounted to NOK 10.3 billion (USD 1.2 billion), which was 26 percent higher than in January 2021. Salmon, the most important export product, showed strong growth in Asia and North America. During the first month of the year, 96 500 tonnes of salmon were exported with a value of NOK 7.2 billion FOB (USD 820 million). Salmon accounted for 70 percent of the total export value in January. Exports of fresh cod (skrei) were also up significantly: +82 percent compared to January 2021. Frozen cod exports also showed a healthy growth of 70 percent by value.

Tags: Norway, Export

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