A Study That Affects Your Sushi Source

AIPCE-CEP logo Your sushi is still in danger due to overfishing. A Finfish study, published by the EU Fish Processors and Traders Association in December of 2013 has the goal of providing the information needed to allow for a sustainable and consistent fishing industry for EU member states. It is a study published annually for over 20 years, and is a tool for creating legislation and regulations in the EU fishing industry. The study is a whopping 71 pages, chock full of scientific language which makes it lengthy to read through – so we’ve done the work for you, and here are the key points and conclusions of the study that may affect your sushi enjoyment.

The key findings of 2013 are generally negative. The total market supply has dropped by 13.7 million tons, quota utilization has deteriorated, and the EU is facing increased international competition which makes environmental regulations increasingly unpopular. This is the first time since the EU27 (which saw the addition of Bulgaria and Romania and spanned 2007-2013) that the available supply of fish has declined. However, the study is not overtly negative, and remains confident that the EU fish and seafood market can continue to support itself without recession.

The Government Fishing Regulators Concerns For Fish

The EU has found out just how complex the fishing industry is. This study follows a trend in having trouble with the sheer scope and complexity of the industry, with large variations in prices both international and nationally as well as the convoluted path that seafood takes from the sea to your dinner plate. Gone are the days, unless you are lucky enough to live in a fishing community, of fresh fish being brought in for dinner.

Nowadays, fish passes through a complex web of suppliers, pounds (especially for shellfish) and international distributors before it reaches the consumer. This makes it difficult to regulate and trace whether or not seafood is sourced sustainably. One of the positives that this study sees is the effectiveness of EU-IUU regulations which were made to deal with this very problem.

EU-IUU regulations were created to ensure that fish being imported into the EU (and caught by EU member states) are sourced in a way that is environmentally sustainable as well as legal. IUU fishing, or illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, is the biggest threat to fish stocks globally. Started in 2008, this regulation has now become “a firmly established feature of the international trading environment,” and has served to label countries not willing to cooperate as “non-cooperating third world countries in fighting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing”.

The EU, a multinational body which serves the interests of all member states does not suffer from the same limitations of a one-state approach to regulations. When you are talking about a global commodity which requires everyone in the world to fish sustainably, the EU is a key part of the sustainability effort, and its decisions will have a direct effect on the availability of particular fish that is commonly eaten as sushi.

If you would like to read more about the study, you can see it straight from the source. The study findings are published for free at The European Fish Processors Association.

A 2023 Study Update On Seafood Stocks

A 2023 edition of the annual AIPCE CEP Finfish study has now been published and things do not look promising. With more world-impacting issues such as multiple wars, continued illegal fishing, ongoing efforts to work on tighter fishing regulations, and the continued repercussions of the Covid epidemic affecting the markets, prices and products continue to be an issue.

The primary insights from the report looking at data from 2022 (and trends from the first part of 2023) concerning fishing and fish stocks include:

  1. The cumulative market availability (encompassing EU production and imports) stood at 12,092 thousand tonnes.
  2. From this, EU’s own production accounted for 3,236 thousand tonnes.
  3. Imports from non-EU countries contributed around 8,856 thousand tonnes.
  4. Exports of finfish to non-EU countries were about 2,241 thousand tonnes.
  5. This culminated in a net EU consumption of approximately 9,851 thousand tonnes (calculated as EU domestic production + Imports – Exports).
  6. This translates to a consumption rate of 22.1 kg per person.
  7. A pivotal observation is that nearly 67% of the entire supply underscores the EU’s reliance on imported goods.

While the study focused on affects for the European Union, it’s not hard to extrapolate that global markets are also incredibly skewed, availability is limited, and we can expect our sushi to become more and more expensive as time goes on. And this isn’t just a sad state of affairs for sushi-lovers, but also the fish species themselves.

The full version of the 2023 study can be downloaded from or read on the AIPCE CEP website with this link to the 2023 study.

Warren Ransom

I have always been fascinated by the creation and culture of different foods, particularly sushi and sashimi in the modern era of Japanese cuisine. I am a classically trained chef and sushi connoisseur, also having operated a food service company and enjoy investigating and experimenting with food around the world.

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