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[ TRADE AND MARKETS ] International Cold Water Prawn Forum, November 2019, Newfoundland and Labrador

China, a huge and growing market for prawns The International Cold Water Prawn Forum brings together companies, institutions, researchers, and others, with an interest in cold water prawns. Every two years the forum holds a cold water prawn conference to discuss the state of stocks, harvesting, processing, and markets.


hrimp can be either wildcaught or farmed and according to the FAO, while production from the wild has shown a faintly growing trend, since about 2003 volumes have been more or less stable, while farmed shrimp production over the same period has increased exponentially and is likely to continue increasing.

Developing countries increase their shrimp consumption Aquaculture offers several advantages, Felix Dent, FAO, told delegates. It is easier to control production levels, and there is greater potential for vertical integration. It is also easier to monitor size, colour, nutrition, and exposure to health hazards resulting in a highly uniform product. Most farmed shrimp production is in the developing world where it can contribute to food security through direct consumption and income generation. Globalisation and trade liberalisation has driven rapid growth in exports from developing countries to markets in the developed world but is now slowing due to a backlash against globalisation and more protectionist trade policies. Developing countries are increasingly finding national and regional markets for their products: developing countries’ share of shrimp imports, though still significantly lower than developed countries’, has been growing rapidly since 2008.

Several factors can explain the growth in markets in developing countries including the emergence of a rapidly expanding middle class, particularly in China, increased urbanisation, greater prosperity, a lack of time to spend in the kitchen, growing awareness of health and lifestyle issues. These factors in turn have had an impact on distribution (more retail chain sales), product innovation (emphasis on processed foods, ready to cook, and ready to eat meals), and consumption (more out-of-home meals). Health awareness has also lead to greater consumer interest in species such as salmon and tuna which are perceived to have health benefits, and has contributed to the proliferation of standards and labels that certify all kinds of attributes that consumers claim to be concerned about. For example, between 2003 and 2018 the number of EU ecolabel licences went from 149 to 2,167, though they fell to 1,575 in 2019. Overall, data from the FAO show that per capita consumption of animal protein is increasing with seafood, pork, and poultry leading the way. Within the seafood category salmonids have a growing share of global import value while that of shrimp has fallen, but at 15 (2016) is still significantly higher than tuna (10), whitefish (10), or bivalves (3).

Climate change is likely to have unexpected impacts on resources Per capita fish consumption is projected to rise in all parts of the

Resources, markets, and the impact of climate change on cold water prawns were analysed at the recently concluded International Cold Water Prawn Forum conference held once every two years.

world according to the OECDFAO Agricultural Outlook 20192028 with China showing by far the most impressive growth. In Europe consumption is estimated to rise by between one and two kilos by 2028, while in China it is predicted to increase by five kg. Catering to this expected increase in demand for fish and seafood calls for strengthening governance, combating IUU fishing, and putting in place robust traceability and catch documentation systems, and encouraging the sustainable growth of the aquaculture industry. All the stakeholders from producers, to governments, consumers, regional fisheries management organisations and international organisations have a role to play. However, another factor, climate change, could complicate efforts to increase seafood 

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production. Carbon dioxide emissions are heating and acidifying the oceans and even if emissions were to fall the heat and acidification will take a long time to reduce, said Eric Bjorkstedt, NOAA Fisheries. He pointed to changes in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans such as an intensification of coastal upwelling in the Pacific northeast and a warming and deoxygenation of water along the continental shelf and slope in the northwest Atlantic due to the weakening of the Labrador current. Warming, retreating sea ice, and altered currents can also be seen in the northeast Atlantic, while the north Pacific shows warmer conditions and reduced upwelling. These changes are likely to give rise to rapid shifts and unanticipated climate events such as marine heat waves, which will have an impact on marine life.


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