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International Fisheries News

Friday, February 14th 2003 - 20:00 UTC
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Headlines: Australian armed patrols to combat toothfish poaching; December 2002 inventory figures released; Marine fish farming offers huge economic opportunity; Private sector funds shrimp research; Brazil after Spanish know-how; EUR 40.8 million for Spanish fisheries.

Spain targets Polish market

With Poland offering new market potential when it joins the European Union next year, the Spanish government is launching an initiative to integrate the domestic seafood processing and marketing sector with their Polish counterparts. Poland's 40 million inhabitants offer substantial market potential for fisheries products and could open doors for Spanish exports to Eastern European countries, and others such as Germany, Scandinavia and ex-USSR nations. The initiative has the support of the National Association of Canned Fish and Shellfish Manufacturers (Anfaco) and the National Fish Canning Centre (Cecopesca) whose representatives will be holding discussions with their Polish counterparts 12 - 16 February. The Spanish processing industry's objective is to maintain the relationships forged in 2002 and to gain first hand knowledge of the situation at an official as well as business level, according to Anfaco. From previous discussions, it is clear that Polish companies are keen on trading with Spain and will provide a commercial network in its own country and in other Eastern European countries. Anfaco is confident that agreements and contracts will be signed to create mergers or partnerships or collaborative ventures. They also foresee opportunities for introducing new products onto the Polish market and for products to be exported to other countries via Poland, as well as bringing Polish products onto the Spanish market. "Bear in mind that when the country joins the EU, Polish companies will have important structural funds available for modernising and renovating their facilities, and they already have a specialised workforce and low costs," say Anfaco officials. During the current round of talks, Spanish executives will attend a seminar on Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) structural funds, which Poland will soon have access to and which could be used within its processing industry. They will also meet processing industry representatives and visit companies in Kolobrezg, northern Poland, and exchange ideas with executives from SEKO and PRORYB, among others. There are also plans for a collaboration agreement to be signed between Anfaco, the Polish Fish Processing Industry Association, Research and Development Centres, Cecopesca and the Polish Marine Research Institute. (FIS/MP).-

Australian armed patrols to combat toothfish poaching

The Federal Government has issued a stern warning to illegal fishermen and the nations who support them with the Australian Cabinet endorsing a plan to step up the attack on criminal activities in the Southern Ocean, including the introduction of armed fisheries patrols. "Illegal fishers be warned ? Australia is determined to protect its sovereignty, and I have the full backing of Federal Cabinet to do everything possible to stop you ravaging our sovereign waters," Federal Fisheries Minister Senator Ian Macdonald said. Meanwhile the Australian Government continues its battle against illegal shark fishing off the country's northern coastline with an announcement last week that two more Indonesian vessels with shark fins allegedly on board had been seized in less than 12 hours. It was the fifth vessel apprehended this year already, while last year 111 similar vessels were apprehended. These vessels are towed to the northern city of Darwin and are subject to immediate forfeiture while the crews face questioning and prosecution under Australian law. But the new get-tough announcement made on 10 Febuary 10 relates specifically to the Southern Ocean and the large, organised illegal fishing operations the Australian Government is claiming are targeting deep-sea species such as Patagonian toothfish. Senator Macdonald said Cabinet had agreed to an on-going, intensive campaign to protect Australia's southern fisheries around Heard Island and McDonald Island, which would include the use of armed enforcement patrols, and an increase in frequency of patrols in the area. The islands, 4,000 kilometres to the southwest of Australia, are the home of the valuable Patagonian toothfish, and the on-going survival and sustainability of the fishery was essential at both a commercial and environmental level, he said. "The Howard Government will do all in its power to stop illegal fishing in Australian waters," Senator Macdonald said. "Illegal fishers have no concern for the on-going sustainability of the fishery, for preserving environmental values in the region, or for the protection of populations of endangered species of seabirds in the region. "Cabinet's decision should be seen as a stern warning to illegal operators that we are serious about getting them out of the fishery. "Australian fisheries management laws restrict fishing to 2,879 tonnes a year, and the allocation supports a valuable Australian industry, which creates wealth for Australia and jobs for Australians. "If left unchecked, illegal operators, within a very short time, could decimate a valuable industry and destroy a unique species. "I am delighted that Cabinet has again treated this issue with the seriousness that it requires and has approved an on-going attack on criminal activities in the Southern Ocean. "In recent times, we have increased our international and diplomatic efforts to combat illegal fishing in the Southern Ocean, and together with other countries with sovereign interests there, like France and South Africa, we are seeking to establish a cooperative surveillance and enforcement framework. "We have also been lobbying to gain bi- and multi-lateral support to strengthen the ability of international law to deal with the problem of illegal fishing, including strengthening the apprehension, enforcement and prosecution capability of coastal states." (FIS/MP)

December 2002 inventory figures released

Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries says frozen fish inventory at the end of December 2002 stood at 1,364,821 tonnes, up one per cent from December 2001 and down two per cent from November 2002. Of all tuna inventories, albacore inventory rose to 26,111 tonnes, up 59 per cent from December 2001, but down nine per cent from November 2002. Inventory of big-eye tuna fell to 11,764 tonnes, down 19 per cent from December 2001 and down 24 per cent from last month. Yellow-fin tuna inventory also fell to 12,617 tonnes, down 25 per cent from December 2001 and up five per cent from November 2002. Skipjack tuna inventory reached 40,269 tonnes, up 29 per cent from December 2001 and up 23 per cent from November 2002. Salmon inventory remained at 97,753 tonnes, which was roughly the same as December 2001 and down one per cent from November 2002. Trout inventory rose to 20,387 tonnes, up 17 per cent from December 2002 and up eight per cent from November 2002. Inventory of salted salmon species fell to 10,894 tonnes, down one per cent from December 2001 and down 38 per cent from November 2002. Sardine inventory rose to 35,420 tonnes, up 19 per cent from December 2001 and up four per cent from November 2002. Inventory of mackerel species stood at 105,028 tonnes, up one per cent from December 2001 and up 17 per cent from November 2002. Saury pike inventory dropped to 49,747 tonnes, down 15 per cent from December 2001 and down two per cent from November 2002. Inventory of flounder species fell to 23,511 tonnes, down 14 per cent from December 2001 and down five per cent from November 2002. Cod inventory fell to 10,418 tonnes, down 29 per cent from December 2001 and down six per cent from November 2002. Inventory of shrimp rose to 78,015 tonnes, up two per cent from December 2001 but down six per cent from November 2002. Inventory of Japanese common squid remained at 72,755 tonnes, down 11 per cent from December 2001 and up five per cent from November 2002. Octopus inventory fell to 21,738 tonnes, down five per cent from December and down 13 per cent from November 2002. Alaska pollock surimi inventory stood at 52,604 tonnes, which was almost the same as December 2001 and down 11 per cent from November 2002. Other species' surimi inventories rose to 31,651 tonnes, up five per cent from December 2001 and down six per cent from November 2002. (FIS/MP)

Andalusia plans stock recovery, promotes purse seine products

Spain's Andalusia Region Fisheries Council is working on a plan to recover sardine and anchovy stocks, to avoid catching juveniles in the Mediterranean purse seine fishery, and to launch an intensive campaign to promote sales. The Purse Seine Fishery Plan is being implemented for 2003 at the sector's request, following its success in previous years, say the authorities. It will involve the Mediterranean fishing grounds of Almería, Granada, Málaga and Cádiz and will affect licensed purse seiners that are based in the ports of these provinces. In an official statement, the regional authorities said fishing companies would have to play their part in the recovery and conservation of marine resources. The plan calls for a reduction in fishing effort by allowing a maximum of 180 fishing days per year, excluding Saturdays and Sundays. The timetable for vessels on Andalusia's Mediterranean coasts starts at 17:00 in winter and at 19:00 during the summer. In the province of Almería the fishing ban started on 1 February and will end on 31 March. In Granada, Málaga and the Mediterranean coast of the province of Cádiz, it will be in force from 1 March to 30 April. Catches will be limited to a maximum of 5,000 kilograms per day for sardine. Limits for European anchovy will be applied locally but they can not exceed 4,000 kilograms per day. Vessel numbers will also be cut with compensation paid for permanent decommissioning, but owners will be able to change their bases to Andalusian Mediterranean ports and the authorities will support vessel owners who wish to change from purse seine fishing to any other, more artisanal methods. In the meantime, fisheries organisations belonging to the Fishermen's and Fisheries Association Federations will be in charge of promoting product identification and providing consumers with information on product origin. They will also organise occupational training, the handling of products at ports, promotion campaigns and standardisation of packaging so consumers can identify purse seine products more easily. A commission, comprising representatives from the regional administration, trade unions, business interests and the sector itself, will monitor the plan's progress and assess its effectiveness. (FIS/MP).

Marine fish farming offers huge economic opportunity

The development of successful and sustainable marine fish farming for cod, haddock and halibut is more crucial than ever given the poor condition of wild stocks, and offers a valuable lifeline to the United Kingdom fish processing industry, it has been claimed. British Marine Finfish Association chairman Alastair Barge said that Scotland has a tremendous opportunity to "become a market leader in cultivated whitefish," the sustainable development of which would also "provide significant economic opportunities for remote coastal communities and other areas dependent on seafood production." Mr Barge added: "The stark choice is that we can either continue to import the shortfall in domestic supplies of whitefish, or we can help bridge the gap by developing a successful and vibrant indigenous industry farming staple species such as cod and haddock. "The knock-on benefits for the whole UK seafood industry are potentially considerable, given that many fish processors in areas such as north-east Scotland and Humberside are finding it increasingly difficult to source high quality fresh fish. In addition, the development of marine species aquaculture will provide many high quality jobs in economically fragile areas such as the Highlands & Islands." The first sale value of marine fish - cod, haddock and halibut - farmed in 2002 was about GBP 4 million. Projections predict that in seven to 10 years time market demand could sustain a combined production of 30,000 tonnes of farmed cod and haddock - for the whole of Scotland - with an additional 10,000 tonnes of high value halibut. This would equate to a first sale production value of GBP 100 million for farmed marine fish by the end of the period, employing 600 people in high quality, full time jobs. The BMFA believes this will stimulate upstream and downstream employment of a further 1,800 jobs in Scotland. Mr Barge added: "The West coast of Scotland offers some of the best environmental conditions in the Northern Hemisphere for the efficient culture of cod, haddock and halibut. This optimum temperature profile - caused by mild winters and summers - offers an unparalleled economic opportunity, which must be grasped." The BMFA has 24 members who are engaged in the development of aquaculture for Atlantic halibut, cod, haddock and turbot. The potential of other species, such as lemon sole, is also being investigated. UK landings by the commercial fishing fleet of the six key species - monkfish, herring, mackerel, plaice, haddock and cod - are down by almost 50 per cent since the 1970s, but consumer demand is increasing - second only to poultry in terms of protein eaten at home. (FIS/MP).-

Zero US tariff for 90% of Chilean salmon

The Chilean Salmon Industry Association A.G. (Salmon Chile) announced that 90% of Chilean fresh Atlantic salmon exports to the US will no longer pay any tariffs on entering that market. According to a recent press release issued by the local Salmon Industry Association this is encompasses the commercial activity of 17 Chilean companies that will now be able to export salmon to the US market at no tariffs. United States Department of Commerce, DOC, concluded this month the third dumping revision process of Chilean salmon producers for the July 2002/June 2001 period earlier this month. The review exempted four Chilean companies from further investigations: AquaChile S.A., Marine Harvest Chile S.A, Cultivos Marinos Chiloé Ltda., Salmones Mainstream S.A., and Pesquera Camanchaca, which had already been exempted from the initial investigation. The DOC ruling states that these companies will not be subject to new revisions. US authorities initiated the dumping investigation after Maine producers accused their Chilean peers of "selling at low cost and receiving subsidies". The DOC investigation began in July 1997 and determined that "there were no subsidies", and applied a dumping surcharge of 4.57% to the Chilean salmon industry, subject to a further five more revisions. Last February 4 the third revision was concluded, and these four companies, which were found to have complied with US antidumping requirements, were exempted from tariffs. The US antidumping rules state that after three consecutive periods without a specific tariff, the measure should be revoked. José Gago, director of Salmon Chile, was very pleased with the decision and said "it was very good news" for the salmon industry, which has invested 22 million US dollars over the past five years in legal defence fees against dumpling claims. He added that the US authorities now acknowledged what the union had claimed all along, namely that Chile's salmon industry was not involved in dumping. Gago considered that so far "the industry competes in accordance with international trade principles." "We have not done dumping in the US or Europe, as this ruling and the December preliminary resolution of the European market ratify," he emphasized. The director of Aqua Chile, Humberto Fischer, shared Gago's views, and added that this accusation was "a true nightmare" for the company. "After five and a half years of investigation, finally we came clean - there was no dumping," he said. So far, the Chilean companies that have been exempted by DOC from tariffs on fresh salmon exports are Salmón Andes, Cultivos Marinos Chiloé, Ericosal, Friosur, Invertec, Salmones Linao, Pesquera Los Fiordos, Mainstream, Marine Harvest, Multiexport, Ocean Horizon, Pacífico Sur, Patagonia, Pesca Chile, Robinson Crusoe and Tecmar. (FIS/MP).-

Private sector funds shrimp research

Argentine shrimp companies in Patagonia are funding research and development of new technology for the sector, including biological studies on Patagonian fishing grounds and the development of a device that will allow fish dispersion during shrimp fishing. Since budget constraints have prevented the Mar del Plata National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development (Inidep) from carrying out research for the last twelve months, the shrimp industry is financing a scientific cruise on one of Abrumasa's vessels that will specifically look into the development of Pleoticus muelleri, commonly known as shrimp. The Patagonian Chamber of Fishery Industries (Capip) and the Patagonian Shrimp Chamber (Calapa) are financing the study. The cruise will target the Mazarredo area, one of the most important fishing grounds for the species in Santa Cruz province. The industry and authorities agree that the results of the study that will be provided by biologists Daniel Bertuche - director of the Shrimp Project - and Juan de la Garza are vital for determining when the fishery can re-open. Currently there's a total ban on local outriggers at present. Arbumasa XIV departed on 29 January from Puerto Deseado in Santa Cruz and will spend just over ten days researching, according to Patagoniafishing. Calapa manager Enrique Mizrahi said both Calapa and Capip had offered a commercial freezer outrigger to conduct the study, given the problems that Inidep encountered with using their own vessel, the Oca Balda. Moreover, both chambers had offered Inidep funding to cover some of the costs involved in tasks scheduled for the rest of the year. Calapa also signed an agreement with Inidep to conduct a feasibility study on the use of an acoustic device to disperse fish, which could be applied to the shrimp fishery. The two-year agreement aims to promote collaboration between institutions, and provide support for scientific and technological research activities to help interested parties to achieve their goals. (FIS/MP)-

Brazil after Spanish know-how

Having grouped all departments, resources, and research related to fisheries within the new Aquaculture and Fisheries Ministry to provide a more efficient approach to fisheries management, the government is casting the a wider net to boost the industry development and training for fishermen. Fisheries Secretary José Fritsch says he is seeking help from Spain to survey the Brazilian coast and advise local government on how to reduce the environmental impact of fisheries. Galician companies have already developed some fisheries in Brazilian waters and are keen to unveil new fishing grounds to help compensate for the deterioration of European fisheries, where so many vessels will have to cease operations. However the project and technology will be focused as part of an "experimental campaign" given the costs involved. Ribeira longliners previously fished under this scheme for six months, but although catches were satisfactory, selling the fish was difficult because it was too expensive to send to Spain, writes La Voz de Galicia. Galician fishermen also state that before any new technologies are transferred Brazilian fishermen need better training. With this in mind Brazil is setting up the country's first fisheries and fish industry school, indicated Juan Carlos Meirelles, Secretary of State for Science, Technology, Economic Development and Tourism. Besides offering basic training for artisanal fishermen and higher level training for those interested in pursing a career in the industry, the school will provide practical training on board "Orion". The vessel belonging to the Brazilian Government was completely renovated and equipped with support from the fishermen unions. The government's objective is to provide a variety of training options at all levels. "We want to train our people so they can operate modern systems to identify schools, including the industrial processing of fish" said Meirelles (FIS/MP).

Shellfish harvesting resumes successfully

The 1,688 Spanish shellfish gatherers in Galicia who returned to work in Rías Baixas on Monday 3 February following a two-month ban, harvested a total of 10,677 kilograms, which fetched higher prices than during the same period last year. In Campelo, for example, cockles on Poio fish market reached EUR 6.35. Grooved carpet shell, a higher value species, fetched between EUR 15.05 and EUR 30.20, and a kilogram of blennies went for EUR 17.95. In Vilanova the record went to grooved carpet shell, which soared to EUR 42 per kilogram. Cockles reached EUR 8.40, and blennies were valued at EUR 18.9. Having seen the success of this first day, O Grove and Baiona shellfish gatherers decided to resume harvesting, contrary to the previous, unanimous, decision not to go back to work yet. To encourage a return to normal harvesting, the government has promised to continue supporting shellfish gatherers with monthly payments of EUR 600, half the amount they were paid while out of work - until their income has stabilised. The authorities expect harvesting to resume throughout Rías Baixas, from Muros to A Guardia, except on the Atlantic Islands, which are still affected by the black tide. Only razor clams will remain banned for the time being. The authorities are optimistic that most workers will return by 15 February despite the opposition of some unions. Fisheries Council leader Enrique López Veiga told RNE that he understood union concerns about a possible drop in prices but said the workers just wanted to get back to normal. "No one likes to live on benefits, they are professionals and they are eager to go back to work, but they have some misgivings. That is why we have guaranteed financial support for 15 days while harvesting is underway, to compensate for any market downturn," he said. Nevertheless, the business sector remains cautious about the first shellfish gathering day after the Prestige disaster. "We will have to wait a week to see consumers' reactions to shellfish sales," said Vigo Brokers and Dealers Association, adding that products are undergoing "very strict" controls and "they are in perfect condition when they reach the market." Until Galician shellfish actually reaches the market, "we won't know how things will turn out," association president Fernando Fernández Ibáñez told Europa Press. But Mr. Fernández expects a positive reaction from consumers, who will realise that "the shellfish is on the market because it is in good condition". For the time being "sales are fine, as people are aware that the fish sold goes through strict controls and there are no problems," he said. He explained that the fish already on sale comes from the high seas, while products from coastal areas that were affected by the fishing ban are not on sale to the public yet. (FIS/MP).-

EUR 40.8 million for Spanish fisheries

After analysing the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) reform process, and the European Union Fisheries Council resolutions of December 2002, Spanish authorities have approved a total of EUR 40.8 million to finance different aspects of the fisheries sector throughout the country. Fisheries Minister Miguel Arias Cañete chaired the recent sector conference, which debated fisheries management, conservation and the sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources. Delegates stressed that fisheries management must be based on sound scientific recommendations, as well as precautionary measures, to ensure sustainable exploitation of living marine resources within the CFP framework. Minister Arias Cañete delivered a presentation on fisheries policy describing several grounds exploited by the domestic fleet and defined domestic and EU fisheries management competencies. He also presented the government's policy for sustainable aquaculture, which focussed on the conservation of the marine environment and resources through reserves and artificial reefs. The government has prioritised the distribution of funding as follows: ? EUR 15.2 million ? 37% of the total - will go to match Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) funding for fleet renovation modernisation. Galicia will receive the largest amount to match FIFG funding, with over EUR 5 million; ? EUR 20 million is going to the ex-Moroccan fleets of Andalusia, Canary Islands, Galicia, Valencia and Euzkadi, which have pending commitments for this year; ? EUR 4.2 million will be used to promote aquaculture; and ? EUR 1.4 million will be used to develop national marine farming plans. (FIS/MP).

Jigger registration period extended to 31 March

In response to requests from many companies complaining about January 31 deadline, Argentine authorities are extending registration for jiggers until 31 March. In December 2002, the Argentine Federal Fishery Council (CFP) approved a total of 19 applications for inclusion in the national registry beginning February 2003. But almost all the companies involved said the time frame for applying to join the fleet was too short. To obtain a national licence to capture squid (Illex argentinus), companies must pay a registration fee of ARS 100,000 per vessel "within five working days after the resolution is published in the Official Gazette". If this requirement is not fulfilled, the application will be immediately turned down. Companies must also prove that the vessel was bought before 1 February 2003. The Argentine Government eliminated charters in 2002, which led to a rapid recovery of the local fleet. During 2002, a total of 67 vessels -52 under the national registry and 15 bare boat charters - operated in the Argentine sea. The latter are part of a special registry that allows foreign vessels to work in Argentina for three years as long as they carry Argentine crews on board. Taking into account that 250,000 tonnes of squid are caught every year - 3,000 tonnes per vessel - in the Argentine Sea, CFP decided to admit 19 additional vessels for the 2003 season. When the charter system was cancelled, many Asian companies that could no longer catch squid had to purchase it from Argentine companies. This helped Argentina's exports to diversify and increase in volume. Besides, the growth of the local fleet has also contributed to the recovery of jobs within the sector. According to the Merchant Navy Captains Union for every foreign vessel that was allowed to operate in Argentine waters under the charter scheme, 30 Argentine fishermen lost their jobs. (FIS/MP).-

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