From the ar­chives

Fish Farmer - - Contents - Cod farm­ing

ABOUT 300 li­cences for marine cod farm­ing have been is­sued so far in Nor­way, but only ap­prox­i­mately 50 of these have ac­tu­ally started to cul­ti­vate cod. Nev­er­the­less, some im­por­tant ob­sta­cles in the in­dus­try have been over­come dur­ing the last years. For ex­am­ple, ju­ve­nile sup­ply is not the bot­tle­neck it was con­sid­ered to be only one or two years ago. This is both a re­sult of higher con­trol over the bi­ol­ogy, but also as a re­sult of a slightly more re­luc­tant de­mand from the on­grow­ing side. This has, and will con­tinue to lead to a de­cline in the ju­ve­nile price, in ad­di­tion to an in­crease in the pro­duc­tion of cod.

Due to the elim­i­na­tion of the ju­ve­nile bot­tle­neck, and due to the fi­nan­cial sta­tus of the in­dus­try, there were too many ju­ve­niles in the mar­ket in the be­gin­ning of 2003. Fol­low­ing poor prof­itabil­ity in the salmon sec­tor, fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions in Nor­way are in gen­eral more re­luc­tant to fi­nance the fish farm­ing in­dus­try – and most farm­ers can­not put fish into the sea with­out fi­nan­cial backup.

Farmed ver­sus wild caught cod There are now be­tween 15 and 20 com­pa­nies which pro­duce cod ju­ve­niles in Nor­way. Of these, fewer than 10 pro­duc­ers have a li­cence to pro­duce a mil­lion ju­ve­niles or more.

Farmed cod is pre­dicted to find its main role in the fresh mar­ket, due to its per­ceived com­par­a­tive ad­van­tages com­pared to wild caught cod. It can be supplied fresh through­out the year on a more re­li­able ba­sis than wild caught cod, and usu­ally has a shorter jour­ney from the pro­duc­tion plants to the mar­ket. Pro­duc­tion meth­ods for farmed cod can also be cus­tomised to meet spe­cific stan­dards or re­quire­ments such as qual­ity or trace­abil­ity.

Europe will prob­a­bly be the main mar­ket for Nor­we­gian farmed fresh cod be­cause of its prox­im­ity to the pro­duc­tion sites, and be­cause of the sta­tus that it al­ready has in this mar­ket. This is also the mar­ket for nearly all cur­rent Nor­we­gian ex­ports of fresh cod.

The prod­uct ‘fresh farmed cod’ is still a niche prod­uct, which can achieve higher prices than wild caught cod.

Once larger mar­kets for farmed cod have been es­tab­lished, they will still face in­flu­ences from wild caught cod, es­pe­cially so in ‘good’ years in the cod fish­eries. The main fac­tors which af­fect the price of both wild caught and farmed cod are cod quo­tas and catches, but prices of other pro­tein sources will also af­fect the cod price.

As long as cod sup­plies from fish­eries con­sti­tute a large share of the to­tal sup­ply, and sup­plies of farmed cod ex­ceed the vol­umes go­ing to ‘pure’ niche seg­ments, pur­chase prices of fresh wild caught cod will act as a guide­line also for farmed cod prices.

Weekly av­er­age first hand prices in Nor­way for fresh wild caught cod

over 2.5kg (gut­ted, head off) have fluc­tu­ated be­tween NOK 14.90 and NOK 23.80 per kg dur­ing re­cent years.

Sup­ply and out­look - Euro­pean wild caught cod In the Bar­ents Sea the quota (TAC) for 2003 di­vided be­tween Nor­way and Rus­sia is 395,500 tonnes, the same as in year 2001 and 2002. After trans­fers to third coun­tries, the two coun­tries will have 195,500 tonnes and 183,500 tonnes re­spec­tively in year 2003. ICES rec­om­mended a catch of only 305,000 tonnes in 2003, while the cor­re­spond­ing rec­om­men­da­tion for 2004 is 398,000 tonnes.

In Ice­land, the quo­tas fol­low the fish­ing year, start­ing a new sea­son every September. The quota has steadily de­creased in re­cent years. In the 99/00 sea­son the TAC was set at 247,000 tonnes, fol­lowed by 203,000 tonnes for 00/01, 190,000 tonnes for 01/02 and 179,000 tonnes for the cur­rent sea­son.

How­ever, the Marine Re­search In­sti­tute of Ice­land has re­cently rec­om­mended an in­creased TAC for three quar­ters of the sea­son of 209,000 tonnes.

In the Euro­pean Com­mu­nity there have also been re­duc­tions dur­ing the last years. In 1999 the to­tal EU quota for cod was 275,000 tonnes. This has steadily de­creased from 246,000 tonnes in 2000, to 149,000 tonnes in 2002. For 2003 the agreed to­tal EU quota is 122,000 tonnes. Cur­rent rec­om­men­da­tions from sci­en­tists for 2004 are for fur­ther de­creases.

The out­look in EU wa­ters is not promis­ing, and a com­plete ban has even been dis­cussed for the Nor­we­gian/EU man­aged re­sources in the North Sea area. How­ever, these catches are of mi­nor im­por­tance in terms of vol­ume.

Though a slight re­cov­ery seems to be ap­par­ent in some zones, the sup­ply of wild caught cod is de­creas­ing. A fact that can be con­sid­ered good news for cod farm­ers.

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