Spain still world’s No. 3 seafood importer


Chris Dove, contributing editor, reporting from Malaga, Spain

Published on
February 3, 2011

Spain continues to be a major player on the global seafood scene, both in terms of consumption and production, as illustrated by the Food and Agriculture Organization report “State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2010,” released earlier this week.

Spain is the world’s third-largest seafood importer, bringing in EUR 5.2 billion (USD 7.1 billion) worth of fish in 2008. Japan still ranks No. 1, with EUR 11 billion (USD 15 billion) worth of fish imported in 2008.

While shrimp continues to be the largest single commodity in terms of value, accounting for 15 percent of the total international seafood trade, Spain was the only major European country to watch its shrimp imports drop in 2008.

Squid, cuttlefish and octopus represented 4 percent of the total international seafood trade, with Spain, Italy and Japan as the largest importers of the three products.
Spain is the world’s ninth largest seafood exporter, shipping out EUR 2.5 billion (USD 3.5 billion) worth of fish in 2008. China is by far the biggest, topping the list at EUR 7.4 billion (USD 10.1 billion).

However, while aquaculture production will continue to increase worldwide and represent a greater percentage of global seafood consumption, farmed seafood output in Spain — like France and Japan — didn’t grow last decade as rapidly as it did in previous decades. This decade, the majority of aquaculture production is expected to come from Asia.

The FAO report also revealed that Spain had 11,143 powered fishing vessels in 2009, of which 64.7 percent were less than 50 horsepower, 87.5 percent had a gross tonnage of less than 50 tons and 93.1 percent had a gross tonnage of less than 100 tons. Within the EU, this compares to Greece and Italy, which have 17,225 and 13,625 powered fishing vessels, respectively.

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