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Photo: Spanish retail pack octopus for U.S. market

Octopus and squid: Korea and Spain lead world trade, according to study

Thursday, January 13, 2022, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

Spain is in the leading group in the supply of cephalopods (octopus and squid) per capita / day in the world, surpassed only by South Korea and at the same level as Japan or Taiwan, according to a study carried out by a team of scientists led by the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies, Imedea and Cretus.

The global trade in cephalopods is a multibillion dollar industry, having grown 416% in volume of downloads since 1961, according to the study published in the journal "Scientific Reports", Imedea reported in a statement.

Species such as octopus, squid or cuttlefish are some of the most recognized of a class of marine invertebrates that represent 2.5% of the world production of food from the sea, indicates the work led by researchers Andrés Ospina-Álvarez , from Imedea (CSIC-UIB), and Sebastián Villasante, from the Interdisciplinary Center for Research in Environmental Technologies (Cretus) of the University of Santiago de Compostela.

On the global trade of cephalopods, there is no specific regulation or monitoring systems to date that allow studying their traceability, so this work contributes to improving knowledge about the general panorama of the industry.

The authors have analyzed 20 years of records compiled in the United Nations trade databases.

The results show that most of the market movements, in which some 250 countries are involved, are led by five Asian countries (China, India, the Republic of Korea, Thailand and Vietnam), two European countries (the Netherlands and Spain) and the United States.

The article highlights that Spain is in the leading group in the supply of cephalopods per capita/day, that is, the average supply available per inhabitant in this country, only surpassed by South Korea and at the same level as Japan or Taiwan.

The study also notes that many of the cephalopods potentially consumed in Spain come from Mauritania and Morocco (frozen octopus) and India (fresh squid and cuttlefish), while a large quantity of fresh Spanish octopus is exported mainly to Portugal and Italy.

Graph representing the relationships between the different countries and clusters of the world trade in cephalopods (Click to enlarge)

This situation is an example of the great complexity of the global seafood trade network, where fresh, quality product follows different routes from supplying local markets and processed product or product that has traveled long distances is the main one. offer in supermarkets and large stores.

The authors of the study affirm that highlighting this information is of vital importance in the current context of global change, since the ecological impact of a food of marine origin is not only due to the energy used for its capture and production, but also from distance traveled to get to the table and even to the vehicle used for its transport.

The research identifies the countries or territories that play the role of main exporters and/or importers, modulators, intermediaries or accumulators, the main flow routes and weak points of the global cephalopod trade network.

Researchers Andrés Ospina-Alvarez and Sebastián Villasante consider that the study will make it easier to find out how to improve supply chains by making them more sustainable and resilient to climate change and determine which countries should lead the traceability and product verification systems, as well as which are the routes that must be monitored to ensure food safety in this industry.

They add that the research "provides essential information to advance towards a transparent and sustainable world trade in cephalopods, in which traceability, correct labeling and food safety represent essential elements of management, but also of a fishing industry with truly global effects. ”.

They warn that this may require an international commitment to coordinated policies, adequate financial and market mechanisms, and constantly evolving scientific and technological advances, "but the ecological, economic and social benefits will far outweigh them."

"Adapting the fishing industry and mitigating the effects of global change for all who depend on it is one of humanity's challenges to achieve a globally sustainable food future," they warn.

To facilitate the exploration and visualization of the global trade networks of cephalopods by any user, the authors of the article have launched a web application accessible here

[email protected]


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