We have previously mentioned that there were issues over access to the Norway sector for cod, haddock, hake, pollock and coley due to our exit from the EU. This contributed to availability issues and, therefore, pricing pressure in 2021.
We have seen some positive progress since then. On the 21st of December 2021, the UK reached an agreement with Norway on fisheries access and quotas for 2022. This marked the start of a new arrangement between the UK and Norway, in which both parties permit some access to each other’s waters and exchange several fish quotas in the North Sea and the Arctic. The agreement allows respective fleets more flexibility to target the stocks in the best condition throughout the fishing year which will support a more sustainable and economically viable fishing industry. The UK fishing industry will, as a result of this, gain access to 30,000 tonnes of whitefish stocks, such as cod, haddock and hake, in the North Sea, providing a welcome boost for 2022 and some reductions in costs going forward.
We are now in a time of year when salmon prices have always typically escalated, and 2022 is no different. There are several factors at play with this species currently. The high prices are a direct consequence of the significant volumes that were harvested last autumn. The biomass is now negative compared to last year and we expect high prices until May as farmers are keeping the fish in the sea instead of harvesting.
An additional reason why farmers are in no rush to harvest their fish is the fact that the growth rate is minimal at this time of year. This is because of the cold water temperatures which cause the fish to be less active and require less feed. A further issue is that we are approaching the Easter period which sees demand increase, pushing up prices.
There is also an issue with higher volumes of winter sores on fish. The sores impact the fish quality, which in severe cases can result in the fish being downgraded to what’s known as a “production fish.” Production fish must first be offered to the domestic market before exporting overseas. This means there is less quality fish for our purposes available.
Lastly, there are issues with Chilean farmed salmon. Algae blooms in the region have wiped out hundreds of thousands of fish. Whilst the UK does not draw supplies from Chile, the blooms are likely to cause issues in the supply to the USA which has historically led to a greater demand for the UK and Norwegian farmed fish from this part of the world. All in all, be prepared for some extreme increases over this period. Talk to your account manager about your options.