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Fisheries News.

Tuesday, January 6th 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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Chile set to become world's main salmon exporter; Seals consume more fish than humans; Tuna sold for JPY 3.9 million in the first auction of the year; Video instructions to save seabirds; EC Agreement on migratory fish stocks ratified.

Chile set to become world's main salmon exporter

If the current trend in growth continues, Chile could become the world's main salmon exporter which in turn would have a direct impact on the industry's suppliers, indicates a report from the Department of Agrarian Studies and Policies (Odepa). During the last decade food production for the salmon industry jumped from 50,000 tons in 1990 to 700,000 tons in 2003. With the industry growing at an annual rate of 5 to 7% food demand could be reaching between 1.1 and 1.4 million tonnes. In 2002, Chile produced more than 503,000 tonnes of farmed salmon, making up 35% of the world's total production, just behind Norway. According to ODEPA, salmon exports increased dramatically throughout the past 10 years making it the fastest growing sector of the Chilean fishing industry. Official statistics reveal that 331,400 tonnes of salmonids were exported during 2002 with an estimated value of 973 million US dollars. The report also highlights that the salmon industry has reached these levels of growth thanks to a dramatic increase in productivity and a reduction in costs, mainly in the farmed fish food sector, which accounts for 50% of total production costs. ODEPA also emphasises the strong link between salmon farming and fluctuations in the fishmeal and fish oil markets which are essential ingredients for feeding salmon. "Actually when fish-meal and fish oil prices are high in foreign markets, Chilean exports increase dramatically thus reducing their availability for the salmon industry," claims the report. According to the document, the search for new feed alternatives for farmed salmon has become one of the most important challenges for Chilean agriculture which could help to ease the peaks of the fish oil and fish meal world markets. However in spite of the encouraging prospects, the latest report from the Fisheries Undersecretary regarding salmon production indicates that during the first ten months of 2003, total production reached 404,800 tonnes, a 3.7% decrease compares to the same period of 2002. (FIS/MP).

Seals consume more fish than humans

Marine scientists are growing concerned over increasing numbers of seals, after it was discovered that a recent explosion in the seal population has resulted in higher fish consumption by seals than humans. A report, Modelling Australian Fisheries to 2050, illustrates the effect of seals as part of a broader study which recommended curtailing the total Australian commercial catch to reach long-term sustainable yields. This followed a recent assessment by the Bureau of Rural Sciences, which showed that 16 of 74 Australian fish stocks were over-fished and nearly all of 20 federally managed fisheries had reached the limit of their expansion. Despite the new report, scientists say that seals cannot be blamed for the current depression of the local fishing industry, and a seal cull has been opposed by the Australian Seafood Industry Council. However, the impact of the seals on local fisheries is to be investigated by the council, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. It is estimated that there are around 130,000 fur seals in southern and eastern Australian seas, which consume about 300,000 tonnes of fish a year. Commercial fisheries harvest about 200,000 tonnes, according to figures from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. The situation could, however, deteriorate considerably, with projection models showing a rapid increase in the seal population in the next few years. It is predicted that by 2035 the total feed requirement for seals will top one million tonnes, an amount which is a staggering six times more than the projected commercial catch. This feeding level will obviously have a significant impact on commercial fishing, according to Bob Kearney of the University of Canberra, who led an investigation into the feeding habits of the seals last year. Stocks of the fish species preferred by seals, which includes red bait, whiting, flathead, mackerel and squid, will drop dramatically in just two years, projections show. Scientists have pointed out, however, that the feeding habits of other predators, such as whales, dolphins and seabirds, remain largely unknown. Seals also have a wide range of dietary likes and dislikes and tend to shift between species. They therefore cannot be blamed for every problem currently being experienced by the local fishing industry, say scientists. A zoologist from Melbourne University, John Arnould, said that there is no cause for alarm at this point, and that the new study is just a first attempt at evaluating the actual impact of the seals. The seals are vital to the environment, he pointed out. (FIS/MP).-

Tuna sold for JPY 3.9 million in the first auction of the year

During the first auction of the year in the Tsukiji whole fish market, a 151 kg tuna was sold for 3.9 million (USD 36,000), which means that prices are around JPY 26,000/kg (USD 240). The specimen, which had been caught in Aomori, to the north of the archipelago, was the largest of the 3,600 imported and domestic specimens auctioned on Monday 5 January in Japan. Although Aomori tuna fetched almost six times the price of Spanish specimens, which used to command the highest prices in the markets, the price of this species was still almost JPY 2,000 lower than last year's highest price, reported Kyodo News. The first auction of the year was held at 05:00 local time (20.00 GMT Sunday 4 January), after a small ceremony attended by a hundred fish wholesalers from all over the country. A report issued by Spanish sources shows that 102 out of the 3,600 tuna were from Spain and reached an average price of JPY 4,500 (USD 42). It has been estimated that Japan consumes 600,000 tonnes annually of tuna, 50% of which is caught by Japan, and the rest is imported. (FIS/MP).-

Video instructions to save seabirds

A conservation group has announced that it will hand out videos to fishermen in the Southern Hemisphere explaining how to catch fish without accidentally killing any seabirds in the process. The Southern Seabird Solutions Trust is an alliance of fishing companies, environmental groups, government departments, seabird researchers and eco-tourism operators, with the aim of working cooperatively in an effort to reduce the number of fishing-related seabird deaths in the southern hemisphere. The 20-minute video 'Fishing the Seabird Smart Way' will be handed out to fishermen in New Zealand and South America, according to a press release. The Convenor of Southern Seabird Solutions, Janice Molloy, who also coordinates the Department of Conservation's seabird conservation programme, says the video is being distributed to fishing boats throughout New Zealand and is being translated into Spanish for distribution to fishing fleets in Chile and Peru. New Zealand, Chile and Peru have a number of seabirds in common, such as Chatham Island albatrosses and black petrels. These birds breed on the offshore islands and waters around New Zealand but spend much of their adult lives in countries such as Chile, according to the organisation. "We know that fishers don't like hooking seabirds, they'd rather be catching fish - and our video describes a range of techniques to reduce the chances of seabirds being accidentally caught," Ms Molloy said. "The good news is that solutions do exist, it's just a case of fishers adapting these to suit the circumstances of their own particular vessels. We're hoping that the video will encourage experimentation and spark exchanges of information, technology and experience throughout the southern hemisphere." The video was made as a result of funding primarily from the Department of Conservation and the Seafood Industry Training Organisation. (FIS/MP).-

EC Agreement on migratory fish stocks ratified

A further commitment to international cooperation in high seas fisheries has been made by the European Community with the recent ratification of a 1995 United Nations Agreement over European migratory fish stocks. The Agreement aims to ensure the sustainable use and development of the seas and their resources of the European Community, and was signed in New York in 1995 to promote the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks of the region. The EC and the fifteen Member States were able to simultaneously ratify the agreement following the completion of national adoption processes in every Member State. The application of this Agreement is recognised as an important step in strengthening the international legal framework as it provides for multilateral co-operation, implementation of the precautionary approach, implementation and enforcement of conservation and management measures through monitoring, control and surveillance and the obligation to settle disputes by peaceful means. The Agreement, which came into force at the end of 2001, is in application of the provisions under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to manage marine resources that move both within and beyond exclusive economic zones (EEZ), as well as highly migratory fish such as tuna. "I very much welcome the ratification of this agreement. It could not have happened one day too soon. It demonstrates the EU's commitment to achieving sustainable fisheries through multilateral co-operation", said Franz Fischler, Commissioner responsible for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries. The Agreement delineates the rights and obligations of coastal states and of states whose vessels fish on the high seas to ensure the conservation and management of fish stocks through international co-operation. It also encourages co-operation among Regional Fisheries Organisations (RFOs) and underlines the fundamental role that they have to play in this area in terms of observation, control and inspection of fisheries activities. It also contributes to combat illegal fishing and flags of convenience vessels by introducing in the international legal framework procedures for the control of fishing activities on the high seas. The EU has put the issue of illegal fishing as a top priority, and has already taken concrete action in this regard, although there are outstanding tasks such as closing up legal loopholes, strengthening international co-operation and implementation and improving the sustainability of fish stocks. (FIS/MP).-

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