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European whitefish market to remain well supplied in 2015 1 minute

  Mar 27, 2015

Even though the quota for Barents Sea Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) has been reduced for the second year running and the haddock quota has been kept at the same level as 2014, there will be no shortage of whitefish in the European market this year.

The joint Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission set the Barents Sea cod quota for 2015 at 894,000 metric tons, in accordance with advice given by the International Council for Exploration of the Seas (ICES). This total allowable catch (TAC) is down 10% from 993,000 metric tons last year and the record one million metric tons in 2013.

Norway is Europe’s main supplier from the northeast Arctic cod stock and currently exports 99% of its fresh cod and 47% of its frozen cod to the EU. The Scandinavian country’s share of the current Barents Sea TAC is 401,240 metric tons, down from 443,735 metric tons last year. Around 75% of its cod is traditionally landed by 1 May.

Europe will also continue to be well supplied by Icelandic cod this year. For the quota year 2014/2015, Iceland set a cod TAC according to the country’s new harvest-control rule (HCR) of 218,000 metric tons. This represents a slight increase on its 215,000 metric ton TAC for the quota year 2013/2014. Icelandic fishing authorities expect catches will remain at this level for the next few years.

Pittman Seafoods sources both single- and double-frozen Atlantic cod from Iceland, Norway and Russia and offers fish that has been certified according the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sustainable fisheries standard as well as un-certified products.


Meanwhile, the Norwegian-Russian Fisheries Commission set the 2015 Barents Sea haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus) TAC at 178,500 metric tons for the second consecutive year. While this is 10% greater than ICES’ recommendation, it is still 21,500 metric tons lower than in 2013 and a massive 139,500 metric tons less than in 2012.

Iceland’s haddock TAC for the quota year 2014/2015 was set at 30,400 metric tons, which continues the recent course of declining supply. Iceland’s haddock TAC for the quota year 2013/2014 was 38,000 metric tons, down from 44,000 metric tons and 46,000 metric tons in the previous two quota years.

Authorities expect Iceland’s haddock TAC to decrease further in the next few years.


From a global perspective, the total supply of Atlantic cod will fall from 1,334,000 metric tons last year to 1,233,000 metric tons in 2015, according to panel estimates from the 23rd Annual Groundfish Forum. At the same time, the haddock supply will slip to 278,000 metric tons from 286,000 metric tons last year.

However, another species that continues to fast gain popularity in the European market is Alaska pollock (Theragra chalcogramma). The Alaska pollock fishery is in a very healthy state, which is expected to result in a global catch in excess of 3.3 billion metric tons in 2015.

Most of Pittman’s pollock is caught in the northeast and northwest Pacific.

Overall, the wild-caught whitefish harvest is expected to reach 7,078 million metric tons in 2015, down slightly from 2014’s estimated catch figure of 7,092 million metric tons.