UK - If new species are to be added to the global aquaculture market, they have to be products with a low production cost and a good market price, writes Editor in Chief Chris Harris.
Speaking at the UK Aquaculture 2012 conference in Aviemore, Scotland, Neil Duncan from the Spanish institute IRTA warned that several new species that had been tried in fish farms around the world had struggled after a short time either because of biological and technical problems or because the price could not eventually meet the cost of production.
Mr Duncan said that in the 20 years from 1988 to 2008 the global and European aquaculture sector had shown itself to be diverse and rich in species and products.
The dynamics of the global market had changed over the years from predominantly a carp based aquaculture sector to one dominated by Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, but the sector had also seen the introduction of new species in recent years, such a sea bass.
Although the introduction of new species had been relatively small, the value of these new species had been high, achieving a little over 11 per cent of the value of the market.
While this value might have been high to the industry, the sector has not seen a great diversification.
Much of this is largely down to economics, Mr Duncan said.
Initially the price for the new products was good compared to the cost of production, but as the supply grew and gradually outstripped demand, the price fell and fell below cost of production.
This change had seen the number of companies producing these new species diminish, but still production rose, as had been seen in the farming of salmon and sea bream.
"New species have a pricing problem shortly after they enter the market," Mr Duncan said.
The picture has been similar for a variety of new species. Halibut has a high production cost, but there is a small market. Meagre, which is largely produced in Spain, Portugal, Italy and France has a fast growth rate and should be an economic fish to supply to the market.
However, it has the production costs of sea bream and production has started to decrease, because the fish is little known outside of the areas where it is produced.
Mr Duncan concluded that for new species to be successful in the sector, they have to be selected with a high economic performance potential.
TheFishSite News Desk