The ongoing economic and financial crisis in Europe is affecting the global seafood demand with exporters turning to new markets in Asia.
"The economic crisis in Europe has certainly affected to some extent. The export to Europe which was our number one destination has now slipped and come as the second destination for India. South East Asia has taken the position of Europe," chairperson of India's Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA), Leena Nair, told Kuwait news agency, KUNA.
"There has been a drop in quantity as well as in dollar value," said Nair who is in Brussels to take part in the European Seafood Exposition.
Mohammad Abdulwasea Al-Eryani, executive manager of Yemeni Seafood Exporters Association, YSEA, shares this view.
"The crisis has affected the seafood industry. The prices go down and then consumption goes also down," Al-Eryani told KUNA.
He noted that 80 percent of Yemeni seafood exports goes to Asia and only 20 percent to different countries in Europe like France, Spain and Italy.
YSEA which represnts about 40 Yemeni enterprises aims to increase the global market share from the present level of USD 250 million per year to USD 750 million by 2015.
Saudi Arabia is the main buyer of Yemeni fresh fish exports, he noted.
The 20th European Seafood Exposition which started on Tuesday and ends today, Thursday, is said to be the world's largest seafood fair. Over 1,600 companies from more than 70 exhibiting countries are taking part.
On his part, A.N.Kumar, commercial manager, Oman fisheries company, said the Far East, the Gulf and the Middle East are the biggest market for Omani sea food exports. He told KUNA that Oman exports USD 40 million of seafood every year.
Oman Fisheries company is the biggest in the country. It has seven factories within Oman, one factory in Yemen, one in Bahrain and one in Saudi Arabia.
Oman fisheries company is said to be one of the oldest seafood and exporting companies in the Gulf region and the Middle East.
"Seafood industry is prospering in the country. Every year we are increasing our volume. More and more quantities are being exported," said Kumar.
The European economic crisis, he said has affected "but not much" the company's exports to Europe which is estimated to be around USD 1.5 million yearly.
Morocco and Tunisia were among the Arab countries that participated in the fair with large national pavilions. Morocco which participated with 22 companies is the biggest producer of the European sardine.
Tunisia took part with 14 companies. Sea food accounts for 8 percent of the agricultural product value and generates 50,000 jobs and provides exports of USD 220 million every year for Tunisia.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), seafood consumption average reached 17 kilograms in 2008, an all-time high. In addition, global consumption of fish and seafood has doubled since 1973 and is expected to increase another 25 percent by 2015.
Worldwide consumption of seafood reached 115 million tons in 2008, and global seafood production, including fish used for industrial purposes, totaled 142 million tons in 2008.
The value of aquaculture production in the world was estimated at USD 105.3 billion in 2009.