The Spanish ports of Ribeira and A Pobra have reported massive drops of whole round frozen tuna being unloaded.  The discharges fell by more than 12,000 tons last year, a stark contrast from data in 2017. 

According to the report, Ribeira, where the Frinsa plant is located, increased by 3,570 tons but A Pobra lost 15,746 tons in volume, totaling to an overall 12,000 tons of lost discharges. 90 percent of the carriers that arrive with frozen tuna in Ribeira and A Pobra come from the Atlantic, while only 10 percent is caught in the Indian Ocean.

A representative from one of the two major Spanish  purse seiner fleet organizations, ANABAC, said that this is mainly due to the Spanish canneries opting to import pre-cooked loins from countries like China, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia which sells the product for cheaper price. “Processors want to gain access to cheaper raw materials,” he told Atuna today.

ATQ’s Expansion Bites EU Fleet Owners

The increase in the Automatic Tariff Quota, which allows import of frozen pre-cooked tuna loins at a zero-duty quota for up to 30,000 M/T, has also added pressure on EU producers’ prices. However, despite the quota being exhausted in early January, ANABAC’s representative said that the pressure to keep prices competitive remains a challenge.

“It is curious because it seems contradictory that the ATQ for these countries  has been increased, when they also criticize China, Vietnam or Thailand for their lack of traceability and unsustainable practices. This include problems in IUU fishing, working conditions, or onboard slavery,” the representative said.

“The European fleet maintains high standard of fishing. We maintain that the European fleet can entirely fulfil the European canning industry’s demands for supply.”

Spanish fleet representative organization ANABAC, has long been campaigning against the ATQ expansion, which damages the business for Spanish-caught and produced loins. 

Employment in the EU is also being affected due to deals being made with non-EU producers, according to ANABAC representative. “The vast majority of labor in the canning industry is concentrated in cleaning tuna. With frozen tuna loins being imported from other countries, jobs are lost in the EU,” he said.