THE Falkland Islands Seafood industry continues to face an environment of great uncertainty, Falkland Islands Fishing Companies Association (FIFCA) Executive Secretary James Bates told Penguin News this week.

He explained: “Covid-19 is of course a major challenge but in addition the consequences of Brexit are still unknown but potentially damaging, also recent increases in costs, and the political rhetoric from Argentina and their efforts to obstruct our development have become increasingly menacing.”

Mr Bates said market demand patterns for Falklands fishery products were changing: “There are some sales into traditional major markets in Spain, Italy and Portugal but volumes are significantly reduced, due to a fall off in demand generally due to lockdown measures across those countries and also because catches for the first season 2020 were about 50% of last year.”
He added: “The wholesale market in Europe and Asia basically remains shut down. Current sales are to retail channels or to wholesalers who are processing for retail outlets.”

Mr Bates said the demand situation does vary between the key markets in different countries. July is expected to see a growth in demand with hotels and restaurants reopening.

He said current prices were stable, “with some reduction on previous prices in some ranges. There is an expectation that prices may decline further, between 15% and 25% as more product enters the market.”
Many buyers in the market are facing cash flow issues and a possible rise in bad debts is a concern.

“Our marketing teams are working hard to keep close contact with existing and new customers. This close contact with our global customer base is a key strength in meeting the challenges we face,” said Mr Bates.

He added: “Operations departments moved quickly to put in place all the required changes to keep our people safe, supported by HR and other teams to deal with the discharge at the end of last season, the work required in port and all the many tasks required readying our vessels for the second half of 2020.”

Picture: Jiggers fishing for squid – Alan Henry