The price of cleaner fish has risen by a quarter in 12 months. Photo: IMR, Bergen.

Cleaner fish prices rocket

The price of cleaner fish has leaped by almost 25 per cent in a year, according to new industry figures from Norway.

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The average price of cleaner fish increased from NK14 (£1.30) each in 2015 to over NK17.50 (£1.62) apiece in 2016. That's an increase of 24.9 per cent.

Norway's Directorate of Fisheries (Fiskeridirektoratet) report contains preliminary 2016 statistics for the country’s aquaculture sector.

The number of companies that report having used cleaner fish was unchanged from 2015 to 2016. In all, 93 companies report putting out cleaner fish in 2015 and 2016.

The figures also show that the number of cleaner fish stocked in cages increased from 26,409,000 in 2015 to 36,143,000 in 2016.

Almost half bred

The collection of data from hatcheries shows that 46.5 per cent of the cleaner fish were farmed lumpfish and ballan wrasse, while the remaining 53.5 per cent were various species of wild wrasse.

“The distribution of the cleaner fish species shows that 15,784,000 lumpfish, 2,130,000 ballan, 5,898,000 goldsinny (wrasse) and 4,812,000 grøngylt (corkwing wrasse) were set out,” says the report.

In addition 7,520,000 unspecified wrasse species were set out, thought to be mainly grøngylte and goldsinny.

The production of lumpfish increased from near 13.4 million fish in 2015 to about 15.1 million in 2016.

“On the other hand there was a reduction in the production of wrasse,” says the report. “The production of wrasse declined from just over 1.3 million fish in 2015 to 423,000 fish in 2016.”

Average price increase, according to the statistics, was 27 per cent for wrasse and 2.3 per cent for lumpfish.

Average price per item for ballan wrasse was roughly NK28.50 and for lumpfish about NK18 in 2016.