The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) has revealed that Nigeria is the second largest importer of seafood from Norway after the People’s Republic of China.
The council’s Director for Central and West Africa, Mr. Trond Kostveit disclosed this at a seminar held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island recently.
At the seminar, Kostveit said Nigeria “is our second largest country after China for the export of Norwegian seafood, hence the need to address safety and create awareness among Nigerians dealers and chefs on how to preserve seafood from Norway.”
Kostveit, however, frowned at the poor storage facilities for imported seafood in Nigeria, especially the move by some traders to preserve seafood with insecticides that are harmful to human beings.
He said the best way to preserve seafood from exported from Norway “is through the natural preservation process practised by Norwegian Seafood Council, which takes a minimum of three months to naturally dry and preserve seafood in the open air.”
In the past months, Kostveit explained that there “has been focus on illegal uses of dangerous chemicals on broken pieces of dried fish in some Nigerian markets.
“To this end, the Norwegian Seafood Council wishes to organize a seminar on seafood safety showcasing the correct handling of seafood.
“The seminar will also create awareness and assurance on various ways to prevent insects and other unwanted pests on perching on seafood products.
“As part of the knowledge expansion on Norwegian products, we have invited chefs at some key hotels and restaurants in Nigeria to a separate chef seminar where we will focus on the preparation of stockfish mackerel and salmon.”
The director noted that in 2018 Norway exported 20,500 tons of seafood to Nigeria, valued at $40.5 million.
In 2019, the council said over 21,500 tons of seafood was imported to Nigeria from Norway, valued at $35 million, which is an increase of 48 per cent in volume and 25 per cent in value, compared with last year’s import.
Kostveit explained that Nigeria “is by far the largest market for dried seafood products like stockfish, stockfish heads, and other dried seafood products in terms of volumes. In 2017, Norway exported 9,000 tons of Norwegian stockfish, stockfish heads and other dried products to Nigeria, valued at $25 million.
“Besides dried products, frozen saith exports have also grown considerably from a total of 1,400 tons in 2018, to 4,100 tons so far in 2019 from January to September, which is a growth of 193 per cent against the same time last year.
“The recent increase of saith reflects a price sensitivity in the Nigerian market, in that higher prices for cod are consequently replaced with increased imports of saith,” Kostveit said.
Speaking on market overview, Kostveit said Nigeria introduced import quotas on fish and fishery products in 2013 and import quotas vary from year to year. There are no fixed quotas for stockfish but a license is needed for imports.
“The current tariff rates on dry fish from Norway to Nigeria is at 20 per cent. In August 2019, tariff rates on dried fish heads was reduced from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, while frozen whole mackerel and herring were set at 10 per cent”, Kostveit added, explaining that Norway does not have a free trade agreement with Nigeria.
The Norwegian seafood in Nigeria can be traced back to the 19th century and has become an important market for Norwegian exporters, particularly for dried fish. In terms of volumes, Nigeria is currently the largest market for dried stockfish products from Norway.
Due to the economic downturn and currency challenges in Nigeria there has been a dip in sales from 2014 but recent trends show a gradual stabilisation of trade, along with a broader demand in various products of fish.