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Argentina heading for record fisheries export year, but?

Tuesday, November 28th 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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Argentine fisheries exports are forecasted to reach over a billion US dollars this year according to Fisheries and Aquaculture Under Secretary Gerardo Nieto.

"We hope to be above the one billion US dollars milestone in exports this year and next year, thanks to improved resources processing", said Gerardo Nieto in an interview published in the Buenos Aires press.

In the first nine months of 2006, overseas sales of mollusks and fresh and processed fish have reached 977 million US dollars with a volume of 497.251 tons, which is above the whole of 2005 exports (443.363 tons), according to statistics from Senasa, Argentina's Agriculture Health and Quality National Service.

The 2001/02 Argentine default and devaluation of the peso have since helped boost exports mainly shell fish, hake and squid, which make up 90% of all exports. The three items already total 886.646 tons in the first nine months of this year.

Spain, Italy, United States, France, Brazil, Japan, China, Germany and Russia are Argentina's fisheries main trade partners.

"Exports are riding on the back of excellent catches of shrimp and squid with hake keeping to its level", said Enrique Dias, president of one of the main chambers of the sector.

However in spite of the encouraging scenario, some analysts have doubts and would describe it as a temporary phenomenon.

Exports' growth depends on "the exchange rate, which is currently favorable, but the advantages are now being diluted by rising costs" warns Dario Socrate, Manager of a high seas fishing vessels chamber.

Socrate also points out to the fact that prices are playing a significant role, more than volumes exported.

Besides the percentage of processed fish or with added value is still considered insufficient mainly because many overseas markets still prefer to do their own processing.

As to fisheries, some species such as hake are still recovering from over extraction during the nineties which forced Argentina from 1999 onwards to virtually ban or severely limit catches.

Otto Wohler, director of Argentina's National Fisheries Research and Development Institute points out that it will take hake at least ten years to recover its critical biomass to ensure long term high volume extractions.

But as fisheries recover and in spite of government strict restrictions, interests have been moving back again.

"There are more vessels and companies than what there's to be fished" warns Mamerto Veron member of the Fisheries Industry Workers Union from Mar del Plata, one of Argentina's main fishing ports.

Categories: Mercosur.

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