Mackerel - September 2015

Mackerel quotas for the main producing countries have been reduced by about 15% this year, and this may cause prices to rise.


Greenland announced in April that they are cutting their mackerel quota for 2015 by 15%, to 85 000 tonnes. Of this, 30 000 tonnes is allocated to Greenland registered vessels. The EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands have also lowered their mackerel quotas for 2015. The TAC for northeast Atlantic mackerel was agreed at 1 054 million tonnes in total. This is a reduction of 186 000 tonnes compared with last year (-15).

The cold ocean temperatures around Iceland have led to a very poor start for the mackerel season there. According to the Icelandic Marine Research Institute, sea temperatures have not been lower for 18 years, and this has caused krill to stay away. Consequently, krill-eating mackerel are also absent.


During the first quarter of 2015, Norway registered a decline in exports of small pelagics. The value of both exports fell by 31% for herring and 17% for mackerel. During this period, Norway exported 47 543 tonnes of herring at an fob value of NOK 498 million, and 50 094 tonnes of mackerel at an fob value of NOK 544 million. The average export price per kg for mackerel fell by 12%, while the average export price per kg for herring increased by almost 20%. Ukraine was the largest market for Norwegian herring during the first quarter, while Turkey was the largest market for Norwegian mackerel. China and the Republic of Korea remained important markets for Norwegian mackerel, while Nigeria dropped from the second top market in the first quarter of 2014 to only the fifth in 2015. Indeed, Norwegian mackerel exports to Nigeria dropped from 7 500 tonnes in the first quarter of 2014 to just half of that, only 3 600 tonnes, in the same period in 2015.

Demand for horse mackerel products from Europe is very good in Japan at the moment, though supplies are tight. Japanese imports of horse mackerel from European sources (mainly the Netherlands and Norway) are expected to decline by 20% compared with last year due to the tight supply situation. Consequently, prices for these products on the Japanese market are strong.

German imports of frozen mackerel during the first quarter of 2015 fell by a massive 30%, to just 5 200 tonnes. The main supplier, the UK, saw a drastic reduction in their shipments from 3 800 tonnes in 2014 to just 1 900 tonnes in 2015. Ireland also suffered a heavy reduction.

Nigerian imports of pelagics have been relatively unstable over the past few years. This is due to the fact that the government changes the import quotas dramatically from time to time. For instance, in 2013, Nigerian authorities reduced the quota and pelagic imports fell to 497 000 tonnes. Then, in late 2014, the import quota was suddenly increased to 750 000 tonnes, but importers did not manage to fill the quota. The demand appears to be huge, though this is less of a factor as imports are so strongly dependent on the quotas.


Mackerel prices took a dive in February, but came back up again in March, April and May. However, the long-term trend seems to be a price decline. Prices for smaller sizes have been relatively stable, while there have been significant price variations for the larger sizes. 


Tighter supplies of mackerel are predicted. This will likely affect prices so that mackerel prices will firm up. Supplies for human consumption may remain relatively stable.

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