Organización de Productores Asociados de Grandes Atuneros Congeladores (OPAGAC) is an association of nine frozen tuna seiner fishing shipowners. Its fleet, consisting of 47 tuna seiner ships, catches 380,000 tonnes a year, 8% of the global catch, and fishes in the three main oceans in the world - Atlantic, Indian and Pacific. OPAGAC has begun the process of having its fisheries assessed to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard to have them certified as sustainable. The assessment is the result of a Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) that OPAGAC developed in collaboration with the WWF since 2016, the objective of which is to achieve MSC certification for the 12 stocks targeted by OPAGAC vessels. And it is in line with a commitment made at the 2017 international Our Ocean conference to obtain MSC certificate for all its captures by 2021. A spokesperson from Lloyd’s Register, the independent certification body carrying out the assessment, said that it was the largest tuna fleet in the world to apply for MSC certification on this scale. Sustainability certificates are becoming increasingly important for access to important seafood markets around the world and OPAGAC’s decision to seek certification is likely to encourage other tuna fleets to consider it as well.
Technology is playing an ever greater role in the seafood industry both on land and at sea. Industry 4.0, IoT (internet of things), blockchain, cloud computing, robotics, and artificial intelligence, are among the terms being used today in connection with the seafood industry. Another technology, holography, used to produce holograms, devices widely used on credit cards to provide authenticity and prevent counterfeiting, is now being deployed to tackle illegal fishing in the Indian state of Kerala.
Scientists and industry representatives from 16 countries gathered in Tromsø, Norway in the middle of June to launch a new EU-funded project, AquaVitae. The 36 project partners are from European countries as well as Brazil, South Africa, Namibia, and North America.
China’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs Minister, Han Changfu confirmed that China has remained the world's largest exporter of aquatic products for 17 consecutive years with exports having exceeded 20 billion US dollars (18 billion EUR). More than 97 percent of products live up to standards according to a market monitoring report, the minister mentioned at a symposium according to ChinaDaily.
Modern technological advances continue apace in the seafood industry. Recently, an unmanned, remote-controlled vessel carried a shipment of British oysters from the UK, to Belgium, in an international trade first.
Carrying five kg of oysters, the 12-meter ship’s 22-hour trip across busy shipping lanes was directed from a control room in Maldon and was supported by the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Department for Transport, the Foreign Office, officials in Belgium and the European Space Agency.
Danish processor Boco Seafood, produces salted cod and processes ling, saithe, and Alaska pollock in its two factories, one in Denmark and the other in Portugal.
However, Boco Seafood recently announced the closure of its Danish factory, citing high costs of cod, mostly imported from Norway. The costs of Atlantic and Pacific cod, available from the US, are coming down, the company said, and its Portugal factory will remain open.
Following a revision in the way mackerel stocks are measured by scientists, the 2019 harvest quota for the Norwegian mackerel fishery more than doubled from the level set late last year.
The International Council for the Exploration of the Seas (ICES) sets European fishery quotas after an assessment of stock size. New calculations have led ICES scientists to raise the stock size estimate from 2,35 million tonnes to 4,2 million tonnes, enabling a quota increase by 450.000 tonnes to the new level of 770.358 tonnes.
In March 2019, the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) revoked its certification of the Norwegian mackerel fishery, and fishermen are hopeful that ICES’s new, larger quota will induce MSC to reinstate the fishery’s certification.
The International Conference “Aquaculture Today & Tomorrow” that took place in Verona on May 16-17 was organised by EUROFISH in collaboration with the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM), the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food, Forestry Policies and Tourism, and the Italian Fish Farmers Association (API). The conference hosted 22 speakers in 4 sessions covering the current status and challenges of the aquaculture sector and how to realize its potential. Sustainable aquaculture practices and innovative solutions were also presented along with how to expand the farmed seafood market. Over 100 participants from 28 countries visited the event which featured a visit to fish farm Agroittica Lombarda, the 3rd largest caviar producer in the world. The programme and presentations are available at: www.eurofish.dk/att.
Norwegian cod exports have exceeded $1 billion for the second year in a row, even as volume declined. In 2018, Norway’s exports of cod grew by 6% over 2017, to $110 million. Volume, however, fell by 9% to 186.170 tonnes. A large increase in average unit value, up by 18% to $4,20 per kg in 2018, sustained the rise in export value.
The largest product components in Norway’s cod exports were H&G whole cod, in fresh or frozen forms, which accounted for 32% and 28%, respectively of total export volume. Also important were dried cod (21%), cod salted or in brine (12%), and frozen cod fillets (6%).
Almost a third of Norway’s cod exports went to Portugal, mainly dried, salted cod in brine, valued at $322 million. Denmark was Norway’s second largest market, purchasing$165 million, mostly whole fresh cod. China accounted for $103 million in Norwegian exports, such as whole frozen cod.
Denmark has been advised by the International Council for the Exploration (ICES) to reduce its total sandeel quotas for the 2019 season. ICES recommended reductions over the majority of fishing areas, however some quotas were increased. The biggest reductions occurred in the central and southern North Sea and Dogger Bank, which are key fishing areas. Quotas fell from 134,461 tonnes to 91,916 tonnes. Other areas affected are the northern and central North Sea (divisions 4.a-b) with cuts from 59,345 tonnes to the monitoring levels of 5,000 tonnes. Levels for divisions 4.b-c and subdivision 20, sandeel area 2r (central and southern North Sea) are to remain at monitoring levels of 5,000 tonnes. Areas where the advice recommended an increase in quotas are in the northern and central North Sea and Skagerrak and the advice increased quotas from 108,365 tonnes to 133,610 tonnes.