Average prices for skipjack and yellowfin caught and landed in West Africa gained support in January, as the seasonal ban on fish aggregating devices (FADs) for commercial fishing vessels came into effect on 1st January 2023. At €1.46/kg and €2.68/kg respectively, the prices for whole round skipjack, and whole round yellowfin, landed in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, both rose by €0.03/kg (+2.1% and +1.1%) month-on-month (m-o-m) in January. The FAD ban, enforced by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) is being implemented for the fourth consecutive year, and is in place until 13th March 2023. The temporary suspension of FAD usage restricts catch volumes, as skipjack and juvenile yellowfin are less inclined to congregate in static locations, thus limiting catches by large purse seine vessels.
Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are key hubs for tuna canning in West Africa, most of which is destined for EU markets. The President of the Ghanaian Tuna Association said that the first month of the ban severely dented supply of raw material to the local canneries, which need to run close to full capacity to remain financially stable. In some cases, factories will process other species, such as sardines or mackerel, in order to remain productive when tuna availability is restricted. In other cases, tuna is transported from the Indian Ocean to West Africa, which significantly increases logistics costs.
The shortage of tuna raw material is anticipated until early in Q2 2023, fueling bullish market expectations for Q1 2023. Skipjack tuna delivered cost, insurance and freight (CIF) to Abidjan remains close to five-year high levels, while the yellowfin price delivered to the same destination is climbing back towards the all-time high of €2.90/kg recorded in October 2022. The combination of cost inflation, particularly fuel and labour, amid firm demand underpin these historically high prices.