Norwegian fresh mackerel exports has been better than expected in spite of the COVID-19 crisis
The COVID-19 situation created some concern for Norwegian fish exports but in spite of a collapse in the markets in Europe and in east Asia, the reality has been anything but negative.
Fish from Western Norway and the Rogaland Fjords are mainly exported to the EU markets and the fishing in these areas has been good when the weather has allowed it with boats fishing herring in the Bømlo area experiencing some good fishing in the early part of the season.
One of species that performed above expectation for the Norwegian seafood industry was the catching and exports of fresh mackerel.
“It has been good for fish, it is probably many years since we have seen such deposits of mackerel in the fjords so early in the season, in addition it is good with other species in the sea and, which helps,” says boat owner Morten Alfredsen.
The first catch to the fresh market came around mid-April and by mid-May there was decent activity in the fishery. The corona situation, on the other hand, created a number of uncertainties regarding exports, which led to some initial difficulties, but when the demand in the market came around, the mackerel sold out.
“The statistics so far this year show that exports to the EU have exceeded expectations, both price level and volume are at about the same level as last year. In June last year, 383 tonnes was fished, while this year 390 tonnes were fished,” says acting sales manager Åge Røttingen.
Positively surprised by Italy
Torbjørn Waage at Brandasund Fiskemottak is, among other things, positively surprised that the Italian market is as good as it is.
“There were some uncertainties around the beginning of the season, so it is therefore very positive that the Italians want mackerel, we are probably around the same exports as last year,” says Waage.
After the EU’s duty-free quota was considered exhausted at the beginning of last week, there was a jump in sales and the statistics for July are slightly ahead of last year.
“As it is now, it looks positive for the export of fresh mackerel further,” says Røttingen.
The quality and size of the mackerel has also been good and suitable for the markets.
“The British often want slightly larger fish, but the Italians prefer sizes of around 300-450 grams,” says Waage.
Brandasund hopes to have fish for another two to three weeks if the market takes off.
“We will probably hold on for another two to three weeks and we are also betting that we will get a good size of mackerel in late summer/autumn as well. Waage can tell that there is usually some mixing of pier later in the season, but last year they packed mackerel until the end of November.”
And not a little mackerel is hand-packed at the reception at Brandasund. The record is 34 tonnes of mackerel, ie 4000-5000 boxes.
“Turnover of fresh ground fish is a small proportion of the total sales with us, but still very important for those who fish thwem, so we bet that the good trend continues and that it will also be good for the trout season that begins at the end of August,” says Røttingen .
Jan Henrik Nøstbakken, who is owner of the boats, Kvoten and Solfisk, says he is also very happy with the season so far and also highlights the importance of fishing.
”It has fortunately gone that way this year and, we are grateful to have a local buyer we can deliver the fish to. We hope that the fishing can continue and that the regulations in the future will be adapted to small and large, both boats and facilities. After all, there is a difference between packing 600 tonnes during a season and taking such a volume away in a few hours. This is a fishery that is important for us who do it,” Nøstbakken concludes.
Source: Norges Sildesalgslag