‘Triple Nine is one of the biggest players and they have had to let people go. Sprat is down, but mostly this is because it has been a bad year for sandeel,’ she said.
‘There is a reduced supply around the North Sea and North Atlantic – and capelin was zero this year. Blue whiting has been steady, but the outlook is for poor recruitment, so we are quite anxious about next year.’
The Danish industry is faced by the short time-frame around sandeel, and will only know next spring what next year’s fishing opportunities will be – although the pre-Christmas survey generally provides some kind of indication around the end of the year.
‘But we prepare for the worst. For the Danish industry, sandeel is the big issue,’ she said, adding that sprat is also a concern – particularly this year as in spite of strong fishing, there has been a reduction in the quota.
‘North Sea sprat is in good condition, but because there is a new stock modelling process, so we still had a reduction – even though there’s agreement that fishing has been good and the stock is in a healthy state.’
The industry’s growing concern is that of a precautionary bias that appears to be making its way into stock assessment and advice.
‘This over-precautionary bias now appears to be built in as an element of the stock assessment, when it is the politicians who should be taking these decisions on the basis of impartial advice,’ Anne Mette Bæk said.
‘This is the message we are trying to get across – along with the argument that an ecosystem assessment is needed instead of assessing each stock as a single entity. We have to take into account that different species prey on each other and without studying that interaction between species, you don’t get the correct assessment for each stock. We need to see a full ecosystem picture.’
This year EUfishmeal and the Nordic Marine Think Tank (NMTT) are holding a conference in Copenhagen to examine precisely this issue.
The Conference on Improved Fisheries Management Models, dealing with the findings of the recently finalised Fmsy project, takes place in Copenhagen on 8th October 2019. Details here.
A further workshop, dedicated to examining the sustainability and responsible sourcing of fishmeal and fish oil, takes place on 25th October, also in Copenhagen. Details here.