Danish fishmeal outlook gloomy

New herring by-catch limits add to a difficult season for fishmeal supplier TripleNine
February 8, 2004


The new year has not brought comfort to Danish fishmeal firm TripleNine. Chairman of the Board, Erik Bonde Pedersen sees little good news ahead for the rest of the winter.

"We must admit that the sprat fishery has not been very successful", Pedersen said. " At the beginning of January, 60 vessels had been at sea and returned home empty.  It is a very unfortunate start to the year, especially after the meagre sand eel season and the poor results for the fishermen in 2003".

The poor sand-eel season has resulted in a decision to close the Esbjerg’s Department I ioutside of the sand eel season . " Based on the landings for 2003, we estimate that in future, we will only receive about 600,000 - 700,000 tons raw materials per year and only 40,000 - 50,000 tons per month outside the sand eel season," TripleNine's Production Director, Christian Bisgaard says."This means that we can reduce accumulated production capacity from our two factories outside the sand eel season. Last autumn, we closed one of the production lines, thereby reducing production capacity from 2,000 tons per day to 1,000 tons per day. So now we have decided to close down the second production line in Department I – but only for the period outside the sand eel season.
During the period 1st April to 1st September, the two factories in Thyborøn and Esbjerg will continue to run at full capacity.

TripleNine's Managing Director, Nils Christian Jensen reports a 30% reduction in both landed volume and turnover. "We only received 620,000 tons of fish, compared to 860,000 tons for the previous year and turnover fell from DKK 1,250 million to DKK 880 million".

New regulations have reduced permissible herring by-catch for the North Sea by 29.6%. The North Sea is apparently brimming with herring and therefore avoidance of by-catch is difficult and inevitable, Jensen said. "The rule stating that a by-catch of more than 20% herring in a catch of sprat is still in force and has more or less put a stop to sprat fishery for 2004, as it has not been possible to find homogenous streams of sprat", "We can however rejoice that some vessels have caught anchovy instead".

"We can only hope that sprat will show up quite suddenly somewhere. They seem to like playing hide and seek with the fishermen" , added the chairman, "otherwise we will just have to trust that we can find a little Norwegian pout or blue whiting, perhaps on the Norwegian Shelf".

The imposed stop to fishing in the northern waters of Peru until March/April and the temporary stop on Icelandic capelin has led to a limited supply of fish meal and fish oil in the immediate future, though the market is still in anticipation. Business is still from hand to mouth.

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