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Fish prices hang in the balance following recommended quota cut



Fish and chip shops could see higher fish prices if 
advice given this week to reduce the 2019 quota for Barents Sea cod and haddock is heeded to.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has recommended a 13% drop in the total allowable catch for cod and a 25% cut in haddock.

The measures aim to reduce by-catch levels and prevent catching of undersized fish.

The cuts at this stage are still only recommended and need to be finalised between the EU and the fishing companies.

Bobby Joyce, national sales manager at Hull-based fish merchant F. Smales & Son, says until that point there will be uncertainty on how the UK fish and chip market will be affected. He says: “Until the quotas are set it is very difficult to give an accurate forecast of the impact on prices.

“Also at the moment, prices for headless & gutted cod and haddock (which is used for further processing) are at a peak level, meaning there is less fillet production as the trawlers will understandably favour the production that is giving the better value return for them. If this changes for any reason we could end up with more fillet production than we've seen this year and therefore the impact may not be as bad as it could be.

“Brexit and the instability in exchange rates are also causing problems - again it is very difficult to predict how this will continue to impact the situation.

“There are lots of 'ifs', 'buts' and 'unknowns' but, ultimately, less supply to meet the demand always creates a higher value for the commodity, and that is what we are faced with. Initially though, my prediction is that the industry should be braced for sustained higher import prices for cod and haddock for the next 18 months."

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