Business News of 2014-02-22

World fish trade to set new records

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says booming world fish trade is generating more wealth than ever before, but countries must help small-scale fishers and fish farmers to also benefit.

Global fishery production from wild capture fisheries and aquaculture is expected to set a new record in 2013 at 160 million tonnes, up from 157 million tonnes the previous year, while exports will reach 6 billion, according to preliminary data published ahead of the FAO Sub-Committee on Fish Trade meeting in Bergen, Norway, next week.

“The record trade figures reflect the strong growth in aquaculture output, and high prices for a number of species, such as salmon and shrimp,” said Audun Lem, Chief of FAO’s Products, Trade and Marketing Branch. “This is underpinned by firm underlying demand for fish products from world markets.”

A statement issued by the FAO and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Friday, observed that aquaculture production is expected to hit about 67 million tonnes in 2012 and projections for 2013 point towards fish farmers producing 70 million tonnes – 44 per cent of total fishery output and 50 per cent of fish for direct human consumption.

“The proportion of fish production being traded internationally is significant, at around 37 per cent in 2013,” said Lem. “This makes the fisheries sector one of the most globalized and dynamic industries in world food production.”

The statement said developing countries continue to play a major role in supplying world markets, accounting for 61 per cent of all fish exports by quantity, and 54 per cent by value in 2012.

“Their net export revenues (exports minus imports) reached .3 billion, higher than those for other agricultural products combined, including rice, meat, milk, sugar and bananas.

“But benefits from international trade are not always trickling down to small-scale fishing communities, even though small-scale fishers and fish farmers constitute about 90 per cent of the sector’s global work force,” the FAO statement said.

It said the Organization is urging countries to assist small-scale fishers and fish workers – around half of whom are women – to overcome a number of barriers, such as lack of bargaining power and access to credit, difficulty in meeting market access regulations, and poor trade-related infrastructure, so that they can access local, global and especially regional markets.

Countries need to provide small-scale fishers with access to finance, insurance and market information, invest in infrastructure, strengthen small-scale producer and trader organizations, and ensure that national policies do not overlook or weaken the small-scale sector, according to the FAO.

It said greater quantities of fish are processed for export, more by-products such as heads, viscera and backbones can potentially be turned into valuable products also for human consumption.

The statement said greater potential also exists to use by-products to make the fishmeal and fish oil used as feed in aquaculture and for livestock, indirectly contributing to food security, adding that this would allow some of the whole fish utilized today for meal and oil production to be used for direct human consumption.