Argentine shrimp tail 400 g (Photo: grandkrust.com)
Drop in international shrimp prices creates uncertainty in Chubut
Tuesday, January 28, 2020, 06:40 (GMT + 9)
Trade changes in China, with the massive importation of vannamei shrimp from Ecuador, have caused a collapse of the international shrimp prices. There is uncertainty in the Chubut seafood plants.
The 2019 data show that there was a decrease in the Chubut fish landings, which fell by more than 20 000 tonnes compared to the previous season. However, the major concern in these months for the sector has been the collapse of the international price of the shrimp that the province places in the markets.
In the last year alone, the shrimp value exported from Chubut was reduced by 25%. It is not yet known how this trend will evolve during 2020, which generates significant uncertainty.
Shrimp is the quintessential star product for the seaffod plants based in Chubut. And in 2019 changes in the fish market linked to Chinese purchases made reconfiguring the entire price scheme that prevailed until then.
The Chinese significantly increased imports of a species of large shrimp (vanammei) from countries such as Ecuador. The low prices of the species led to a collapse of those of other species.
To give an idea of the impact, Ecuador increased its sales of vannamei shrimp to Asia from 67,000 tons in 2018 to 280,000 tons, through an intensive process. In comparison, 5,000 tons less were sent from the province compared to 2018, and at a value 25% lower. This generated an alarm signal within the business.
In dialogue with the Económico, the head of the fishing firm Conarpesa, Fernando Álvarez Castellano, explained that “the great impact that has been in this 2019 is due to the fall in prices. As China raised imports of vannamei three times, this meant an automatic price decrease for all other countries.”
“Low prices cause great concern. We have to use money, willingness and imagination for an advertising campaign to sell more, because as long as there is vanammei, these prices will go down more and more and ours will fall. And we have no other alternative markets to reconquer with some strategy to China and which they pay more again. ”
According to the data of the Undersecretary of Fisheries of the Nation, landings of sea catches of all species in Chubut in 2019 amounted to 234 000 tons. A decrease of 21 000 tons in relation to the 255 000 tons landed in 2018 in that the province. At national level, the fall was around 16 000 tons.
According to the companies, landings have gone down due to several factors that were added, but that were circumstantial. Firstle they mention a big strike at the end of last year, when Rawson's branch of SOMU forced the fleet to stop for a long time.
Shrimp trawler fishing (Photo: stockfile)
Secondly, they say that the fishing season at the national level closed earlier. In addition, different policies were carried out within the Federal Fisheries Council by the provinces with the aim of preserving the resource, such as the restrictions that Chubut has been pushing for a long time.
Four years ago, landings and activity for fishing plants were growing. 2019 came to interrupt this trend. And although it generated an economic impact, it did not alter the plans of local fishing companies and much less had an impact on local labor.
From the Chubut Fisheries Department they emphasized the steps that were made before the Federal Council to take care of the resource and in that sense the limitations that were imposed on Mar del Plata's red fleet for fishing in waters bordering Chubut.
“In Chubut it did not impact, because from all that the fleet from Mar del Plata comes to fish here, making large numbers, 60% of what they caught is bought by the province and the Chubut seafood plants. The other 40% - which may be less - is supplied to plants from Rio Negro, Santa Cruz, and mainly factories from Mar del Plata. It does not help us to take the resource here for other provinces. With what was caught, it was enough to supply all the plants in Chubut. There is no negative economic impact for the province.”
In fact, they said that the province requested that a catch limit be placed on species such as shrimp. They gave as an example what happened with the hake.
“Chubut points to a sustained catch level of 200 000 tons and not that one year we reach 500 000 and then for two or three years we can't fish anything as it has already happened. As it happened with hake - we used to fish 300 000 tons and in one year by wrong decisions 900 000 tons were caught and we had six or seven years without fishing hake due to terrible bans, with major fishing crises. And something that had its effect 20 years ago, in 1999, it is recovering just today.”
Source: Diario Jornada