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Fish auction. (Photo Credit: Arnejohs)

Fish prices reach historic high

WORLDWIDE
Friday, June 21, 2013, 23:30 (GMT + 9)

Global fish prices are higher than ever driven by several key traded species such as salmon and shrimp as a result of lower catches and higher feed costs. Meanwhile, expanding aquaculture is helping make up for lower wild catches.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) global fish price index, which tracks the cost of wild and farmed seafood, hit a record high in May, up 15 per cent from May 2012 and above the record reached in mid-2011.

In China, changes in diet are boosting demand for seafood, where the total value of fish trade is expected to reach USD 130 billion this year.

“In the coming months, supply constraints for several important species are likely to keep world fish prices on the rise,” the FAO has anticipated.

While China is the world’s largest producer of farmed tilapia, it is increasing its imports of other species like salmon and shellfish. Further, oyster and mussel consumption is jumping at 20 per cent a year, according to the FAO, which makes China a key market for more expensive shellfish.

Oyster prices have already more than doubled since 2010 and are expected to rise even more in 2013 as a result of a worldwide shortage and higher demand from Hong Kong and China.

Higher fish consumption in emerging markets is also a result of urbanisation and the advent of supermarkets.

“The product development, including ready meals and clean fillets really facilitates fish consumption,” Audun Lem, a fish expert at the FAO, said, Financial Times reports.

The cost of tuna has risen 12 per cent in the past year and hit a record high, due to strong demand from the sashimi and sushi sector and the canned tuna industry, plus smaller catches.

Shrimp has gone up in price by 22 per cent over the same period due to a shortage caused by disease in southeast Asia and a fall in wild harvests.

Salmon prices have surged 27 per cent but still remain well below their record highs.

Aquaculture costs remain high thanks to record feed costs and fishmeal prices remain near a record high because of a much lower supplies of anchovies.

Meanwhile, the ongoing economic crisis in northern Europe and North America has led to generally sluggish growth in seafood imports, although with some exceptions for salmon and tuna. Supplies have been fickle due to fluctuating wild catch landings, mid-season quota adjustments and major outbreaks disease in aquaculture -- all leaving the direction of international prices and import volumes of fish and fishery products in 2013 unclear. 

By Natalia Real
[email protected]
www.fis.com


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