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Capping bass and bream fry production would give producers more control over the market, said Diago Thomaz, from Real Sales Ltd. Charlotte Johnston, TheFishSite editor, reports from Aquaculture Europe 2011.

In 2011, fry production is expected to have increased significantly. This means that in two years time an abundance of bass and bream will hit the markets, according to Mr Thomaz.

As it is with any free market he explained, an increase in supply will push the price down.

This, Mr Thomaz said, is a trend that is seen every few years in the bass and bream industry. Total production peaked in 2008, when the price was the lowest.

Currently production is down, however prices are beginning to recover.

As prices begin to recover production will also follow, but this increased supply will force the price down - and during this time, many producers suffer, Mr Thomaz said.

To stop this happening, Mr Thomaz proposes a cap on fry production.

This year, it is expected that 11 million fry will be produced.

Whilst biomass production is responsible for 20 to 30 per cent of the fluctuations in price, he says that 48 per cent of the price of fish is explained by fry production two years earlier.

Other factors do affect price, said Mr Thomaz - including biomass (cage performance and environmental factors), fisheries production, industry concentration, trade and global economics.

It is a complex system, Mr Thomaz explained. There are many inputs and they all cross over and affect each other. The price of fish is quite unpredictable and difficult to forecast in the long run, which is why intervention is required.

Mediterranean Fry Council

Intervention could regulate supply and demand, he suggested.

There are three opportunities along the production chain where intervention is possible.

Fry production quotas

Of these three options, Mr Thomaz suggests the establishment of a Mediterranean Fry Council to regulate production.

However he said that this would need collaboration from all producers, and producer organisations. It would have a direct impact on medium term biomass production.

The Council would be able to gather market information, set industry trends and impose quotas on production.

It could also manage incentive programmes, a registrar of Mediterranean hatcheries and provide legal and veterinary advice through newsletters etc.

Similarly the Greek and Spanish Aquaculture Federations' proposed a similar strategy to reform market organisations. They presented this to the EU during the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reforms.

The paper suggested that where a producer organisation has more than 60 to 70 per cent of production, a cap should be put on juvenile production.

Limited sales channels

Reducing sales channels would be difficult to implement, Mr Thomaz said. Smaller producers (those producing less than 2000-3000 tonnes) could merge their sales channels which would improve their market strength.

Better use of marketing and promotion

This would regulate demand. In the past, marketing of Mediterranean aquaculture products has only used one tool at most, said Mr Thomaz. New measures are needed, he said, to add value to products for consumers.

He suggested that small producers could pool resources to prevent high marketing costs affecting them.

Concluding, Mr Thomaz said that it is inevitable that production will boom in a couple of years, especially if the production of fry increases as it is now.

Sustainability requires intervention through a fry Council, and the industry must find a way to become sustainable, he said.

October 2011

the Fish Site Editor

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