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Groundfish - February 2012

Sustainability Economics +3 more

Price stability and good supply made whitefish a good alternative in the market, according to Globefish.

Lucy Towers thumbnail

In the second quarter of 2011 price stability made whitefish a good alternative for value-added processing as well as for customer purchases.

While some groundfish stocks are recovering now because of good management of these fisheries, others are still suffering from the effects of overfishing. Several Atlantic and North Sea groundfish stocks had quota increases - certain cod stocks were increased by 141 per cent, as well as haddock (25 per cent), hake (15 per cent), sole (9 per cent) and megrim (8 per cent). However, the Commission also proposed a ban for 2012 for cod in the west of Scotland, the Irish Sea and the Kattegat, where stocks have collapsed because of overfishing.

The European commission said that overall 88 per cent of European stocks are overexploited and 30 per cent in danger of collapse.

Last year in July the European Commission published its Communication on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. This proposal includes a phased introduction of transferable fishing concessions for vessels above 12 metres, giving guarantees of quota shares for a minimum of 15 years. Discards will be phased out as beats are expected to land all the fish caught. From 2012 the rules would apply to groundfish stocks as cod, hake and sole.


NOAA released last year the results of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Survey that was carried out prior to setting the allowable catch quotas for various groundfish species. There were slight decreases in biomass of Alaska pollock and rock sole compared with the same figures of 2010.

In 2011 the US Alaska pollock B season harvest was somewhat unusual. Of a total quota of 739,558 tonnes, only 70 per cent had been caught by the beginning of September compared with almost 90 per cent in 2010.

Iceland: cod stocks reaching higher levels of biomass

In May the Marine Research Institute (Hafro) in Iceland reported that cod stocks were getting stronger and this was confirmed in July when a quota of 177,000 tonnes was announced for 2011-2012 an increase of about 10 per cent. This should bring more cod to the market. The haddock quota has been reduced by 5,000 tonnes to 40,000 tonnes, slightly less than predicted. Icelands pollock quota was set at 52,000 tonnes, which is slightly higher than the 2010-2011 quota.

Norway had record high exports in first half of 2011

The NSEC stated that value of exports during the first half-year of 2011 totalled EUR 3.3 billion, scoring the highest export value ever registered for a semester. Exports of salted cod increased in value by EUR 18.95 million to a total of EUR 91.8. Exports of clipfish totalled EUR 206.3 million. Exports of fresh cod products went up by 16 per cent in value, reaching a total of EUR 102.2 million. Saithe quotas are lower than in 2010 and catches fell. Low landings together with a strong demand for salted fish caused prices to increase, a trend that is expected to continue for the time being.

In Russia, lower white fish volumes were expected in the market except for pollock.

By the end of the first semester of 2011, Russia had fished almost 84 per cent of the total TAC in the western North Pacific, with a final volume of about 710,000 tonnes of pollock.

South America

Landings of hubbsi hake in Argentina from January to September 2011 were lower than the same period in 2010. 2011 landings for the mentioned period were 194,082 tonnes, while in 2010 were 204,907 tonnes, thus showing a decline in landings of 5.28 per cent mainly by lower catches this September, with a decline of 54 per cent compared with September 2010. With regard to exports, from January to June 54 458 tonnes were exported reaching a value of USD 152.7 million. This was a decline in volume of 20.10 per cent, and value by 0.7 per cent. Southern hake showed an improvement in landings in 2011 5.9 per cent (2 126 tonnes) in the January-September period.

Hoki landings showed a significant decrease from January to September 2011 when compared with the same period in 2010. Landings amounted to 52,778 tonnes, a decline of 14 per cent. However, exports over the same period increased compared with the previous year. Export volume reached 10,332 tonnes by 1 July, an increase of 8.3 per cent. Export reached a value of USD 23.5 million, an increase of 22.3 per cent.

Chilean landings of Pacific hake up to July 2011 were higher than the previous year, with an increase of 4.4 per cent compared with the same period of 2010. Southern hake landings declined by 17 per cent.

In Uruguay, the export value of hake products in period January-June 2011 reached USD 43 million, which represents a 25.6 per cent increase compared with same period in 2101.

Southern Africa

The South African fishing company Oceanfresh will supply hake fillets from sustainably managed stocks to 500 Walmart stores in the USA. This will enable Oceanfresh to expand production and create more much needed jobs in the sector.


Iceland confirmed that its stocks are increasing and together with higher stocks in other Nordic countries this makes cod fishing almost exclusively concentrated in the North Atlantic. Higher levels of groundfish stocks will bring more fish to the market, forcing companies to adopt strategies not only to compete with other species, but also to reach new markets and consumers.

April 2012