04 October 2023





The 2023 edition of the annual AIPCE CEP Finfish study has now been published[1]. As expected, the study shows the socio-economic context in 2022 remained difficult. The consequences of COVID-19 pandemic continue to impact on markets. The UK’s post Brexit border regime is not yet fully operational. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine continues to disrupt supply chains. The efforts to renew the EEA agreement with Norway and Iceland have not yet concluded.

In addition, increased input costs combined with general inflation are pushing consumers towards cheaper sources of protein and companies engaged in the processing and marketing of fish and fishery products continue to suffer competitive disadvantage under ‎limited maximum cumulative amounts for State Aid imposed by the Commission in the “Ukraine Temporary  Framework”.‎

The study highlights the difficulties which the Commission’s proposal for the 2024-2025 ATQ cycle will cause in respect of EU seafood processors’ need to obtain access to competitively priced raw materials in order to maintain economically sustainable production in a challenging economic context and to the benefit of EU consumers.

Statistics show that the EU catching and aquaculture sectors alone cannot meet the demand of the processing industry and hence EU consumers. Many of the species we consume are overwhelmingly, if not entirely, dependent on external sources. Continued access to ‎global fisheries without unnecessary barriers is therefore essential if the processing industry is to remain viable. Similarly, the viability of the catching, aquaculture and processing sectors is inextricably linked and their collective growth  is essential for the EU economy as well as crucial for EU food security.

The Autonomous Tariff Quota (ATQ) regime continues to be the primary trade instrument for securing the necessary supply for EU companies and will, if stable, generate further added value, provide jobs, ‎often in economically fragile areas, and ensure that the needs of EU consumers are met.

The Commission’s proposal for the new cycle is currently under discussion in the Council. The proposal narrows the scope of species and products that qualify for the end use requirement and ignores motivated requests from the industry to stimulate growth and innovation. Products and sourcing countries are excluded from the proposal without any compensating measures.

Based on well documented evidence of the dependency of the Union on external sources[2], it is unclear which direction the Commission wishes the EU industry to take and what future it proposes for the sector. AIPCE believes the EU trade instruments should be used in accordance with their definitions, i.e. to support growth.

It is crucial that we make sure the EU companies maintain production in the EU. This is a matter of EU food security, among other.

The key takeaways from the year 2022 are that:

  • 12,092 thousand ‎tonnes was the total market supply (EU production + imports)
  • of which 3,236 thousand tonnes came from EU domestic supply
  • ‎with 8,856 thousand tonnes of 3rd country imports‎
  • 2,241 thousand tonnes‎ were exported to 3rd countries
  • leaving 9,851 thousand tonnes as total EU consumption (EU domestic supply + Imports – Exports)
  • amounting to 22.1 kg per capita consumption
  • with the result that around 67% of total supply‎ reflected EU dependence on imported product

The Finfish Study has been prepared by and for the EU seafood processing and trade industry for over 30 years and has been a useful tool in explaining the activities of the sector. Download the last edition of the Finfish study from the AIPCE CEP website and contact the Secretariat for more details at aipce@kellencompany.com


[1] The Finfish study looks at the trade data from year 2022 as well as the trends in the first half of year 2023 and can be downloaded from our website.

[2] The study shows that the most important external sourcing countries in 2022 are Norway (1,851 thousand tonnes; -5%), China (810 ‎thousand tonnes; +2%), Vietnam (514 thousand tonnes; +20%), USA (512 thousand tonnes; -17%) and Ecuador ‎‎(489 thousand tonnes; +4%)‎.