Spain may exhaust remaining Indian Ocean tuna quota by October

The Spanish fleet is to reach a definitive agreement on how to split its remaining 2017 yellowfin tuna quota among vessels this week.

Spanish fishing industry associations Asociacion Nacional de Armadores de Buques Atuneros Congeladores (ANABAC) and Organizacion de Productores de Atun Congelado (OPAGAC) have “reached a gentlemen agreement in absence of the general secretary of fisheries for the distribution [of the quota] between vessels, with amounts ranging between 600-1,200 metric tons per vessel,” one source from a large firm told Undercurrent News.

The definitive agreement between ANABAC and OPAGAC will be reached on Wednesday or Thursday, and will probably be made public on Friday, another Spanish source told Undercurrent.

Meanwhile, the Seychelles has assigned its remaining quota last Friday, sources said.


Spain, France and Seychelles

The Spanish fleet has caught 73.95% of its quota in the Indian Ocean, industry sources told Undercurrent on July 3.

The amount remaining to complete the 45,682t allocated to the Spanish fleet is therefore less than 12,000t for the rest of the year.

The French fleet is in a similar situation. However, the French fleet could fish until December, thanks to “steps that have been taken”, according to a third French source.

The Seychelles has awarded 994t of yellowfin tuna quota for each vessel, to be counted from May 20, the first source said. The quota was divided among 13 vessels with a Seychelles flag, the second source noted.

With these quotas, it is estimated that the Seychelles’ fleet will have to stop fishing at the end of September, while the French and Spanish fleet will have to stop fishing in October at the latest, sources pointed out.

This means that, for three or four months, there will be no supply of fishing for purse-seine fleet in the Indian Ocean. As a result, for three-four months about 120,000-160,000t in the Indian Ocean might not be fished, according to one source.

“This will significantly strain prices throughout the region and possibly also in other markets. In addition, given the scarcity of yellowfin catching globally, the lack of supply of yellowfin may push prices up to €3,000/t in markets such as Italy or Spain, where sales are already €2,800/t and even more,” one of the sources said.


Global price rise Trend

In Bangkok, Thailand skipjack prices have reached $1,900/t at the end of June and are moving towards $1,950-1,970 per metric ton in July, while they have jumped to $2,000/t in Ecuador. Meanwhile, sustainability measures introduced in the Indian Ocean are expected to cause prices to increase in the second half of the year, as the EU fleet is closing in on the yellowfin quota introduced this year for the first time.

“There is already talk of [skipjack tuna prices] overcoming the $2,000/t barrier in Thailand, in the Indian and Atlantic levels €1,550-1,600/t FOB [free onboard] and in Spain we have already reached €1,800/t,” one source said, pointing to the ongoing price rise trend.

“[At present] there is much more demand than supply. The fishing in the Atlantic is bad, in the Indian Ocean [vessels are] finishing the quotas, in the Pacific [catches] are very loose, in the Western Pacific [catches] are improving a bit but they have loose all year,” the second source noted, stressing that this situation was “starting to impact prices”.

“This year catches are going to fall a lot at the end of the year. There have never been quotas in the Indian, in the Pacific, [such a] reduction of catches in general”.

Next year, because of the new measures in the Indian Ocean, there will be even less fish, he added.