Nigeria has imported a total of N34.7 billion ($69.39 million) Mackerel fish from Japan between 2019 and June 2021 despite tight import restriction by the Federal Government. Frozen Mackerel exports were fairly steady in the first half of the year as Nigerian importers abandoned Norway and shifted to Japan’s Mackerel species, which is far cheaper.
The H1’21 export value of JPY 1.5 billion ($13 million, €11 million) was 13 per cent higher than the corresponding period in 2020 and up just one per cent from that of 2019. Data obtained from International Trade Statistics (ITS) indicated that Japan had overtaken Norway by 73.87 per cent since 2018 on fish export to Nigeria.
The data revealed that Japan’s fish exports to Nigeria rose from $1.04 million or 2.14 per cent in 2016 to $48.62 million (97.8 per cent) in 2018. Its export to Nigeria in 2017 was $28.57 million. It was gathered that Pacific Mackerel from Japan, which was $850 per tonne, is 43 per cent cheaper than the prices of Norwegian Mackerel specie sold at $1,500 per tonne.
The main markets for Mackerel have traditionally been China, South Korea and Thailand, but Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana have taken large volumes of Mackerel since 2018. In August, statistics by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s shipping position revealed that five vessels berthed at Lagos Port’s terminals C and D with 56,178.6 tonnes of the fish. At the terminal, Gogland Reefer berthed with 4,242.16 tonnes, Cool Girl, 4,686.5 tonnes; Sierra Laurel, 42,000 tonnes; Sierra Queen, 4,200 tonnes and Crown Sapphire, 5,250 tonnes.
In the past, Nigeria was Norway’s largest market for fish because of high taste for Mackerel, but Japan has surpassed its competitor in Mackerel and other pelagic species’ supplies to Nigeria. It would be recalled that Nigeria Fisheries and Aquaculture Department’s Director, Ime Umoh, had identified the high cost of inputs, use of unimproved breeds in aquaculture and need for improved access to finance as the main obstacles hampering expansion of the country’s aquaculture sub-sector.
Umoh, who said this at the international dialogue on the Transformation and Future of Aquatic Food Systems in Nigeria on behalf of Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Muhammad Sabo Nanono, said due to constraints hampering the growth of the aquaculture sub-sector, Nigeria had been left with a deficit of 2.5 million metric tonnes of fish.
He estimated the current total fish demand in Nigeria at 3.6 million metric tonnes annually, saying that the country produced an estimated 1.1 million tonnes from the 10 million people actively involved in primary and secondary fisheries operations.
He noted that the 2.5 million tonnes deficit was being addressed through imports. Umoh explained that the Federal Government was committed towards improving the aquaculture sub-sector and increase domestic production of fish to reduce importation of frozen fish into the country. However, he did not outline how government proposes to engage with other fish stakeholders in expanding the aquaculture sector.