Alaska/Pacific Coast

Sockeye prices dropping with processors ‘running scared’
Undercurrent News by Jeanine Stewart February 16, 2015
Alaska sockeye processors have reached the breaking point on how long they can comfortably hold inventory.

“I’m getting a lot of frozen offers,” a source at a US-based distributor told Undercurrent News last week, referring to sockeye. “So everyone is full now, it seems…When they start calling me is when the market is itching.”

Sources at major Alaska sockeye processors told Undercurrent processors are in a push to clear excess inventory.

“The packers are pretty desperate to sell fish,” one such processor, source A, told Undercurrent. “There are two things that have had a lot of effect on the market. First, we had a lot of sockeye last year. Second, the exchange rate has been tough.”

The Japanese yen is traded at JPY0.0084 against the dollar as of Saturday, down from JPY0.0098 the same day last year. The current value is 35% drop from the JPY0.0131 seen in early 2012. Meanwhile, the euro has plummeted 18% since just last April, from€1.39 then to€1.14 as of Saturday.

Source A said the sockeye push started in early December, at which point the wholesale price on 4-6 pound frozen sockeye was $3.60/lb., and that has since dropped to $2.65/lb. to $2.80/lb.

“They’re running scared — we have big projections for this year coming in Alaska with Bristol Bay,” source A said.

That they do. The sockeye harvest projection from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game this year for Bristol Bay — which made up 65% of Alaska’s total sockeye catch last year — is 53.98 million fish. That is the largest since 1995 and 40% greater than the ten-year mean of total runs and 51% greater than the long-term mean of 32.43m.

The big supply influx approaches as processors deal with leftover supply from last year’s 43.5m sockeye harvest, which weighed in at 245.4m pounds — a whopping 38% increase in total weight from the 177.7m pounds harvested in 2013. That doesn’t even include the influx of fish that came out of the Fraser River last year, which stood at 8.5m fish as of Sept. 12, as the season wound down.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is attempting to help the tough market situation with a $1 million marketing campaign to push sockeye. The campaign is still in its early stages, with the focus primarily on Lenten sales of cans and fillets in the US and internationally, ASMI’s Tyson Fick told Undercurrent.

Meanwhile, exchange rates with Japan and Europe — two major sockeye markets — have been very poor on the foreign side, making sales of any export product difficult. While sockeye is just one of these, it definitely is one of many products US fish exporters are seeing hurdles for as a result of the exchange rates.

The Alaska Fisheries Report – February 12, 2015
Coming up this week the North Pacific Council looks ready to get get tough on Bering Sea halibut bycatch, locals along the Kusko want more of a say in their fisheries, and a fisheries observer meets a tragic fate – on shore. All that and more, coming up, on the Alaska fisheries Report. We had help from KUCB’s Lauren Rosenthal and Annie Ropeike in Unalaska, KYUK’s Ben Matheson in Bethel and APRN’s Liz Ruskin in DC.

East Coast Fishery

Storms Keep Cod Landing Pace Lower in Norway, but Sellers See Good Demand, US East Coast also Strong
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton – February 13, 2015

Cod prices, though ticking down, have not fallen sharply, and slower fishing plus good demand suggests that the market will make only modest corrections.

In Norway, landings so far this year have been considerably less than the past two years, due to stormy weather that has limited fishing days.  As a result, plants in Norway are running well below capacity on fresh cod.

Prices for frozen H&G cod have come down less than 5% since their November high point of $3600, while Alaskan H&G cod prices have barely come down at all, from around $3900 to $3850 per ton.

The Norwgians are optimistic about stronger demand for salt fish this year, espcecially in markets like Spain.  Also Klippfish (dried cod) markets are strong, with January exports the best ever.

In Alaska, freezer longliners are facing headwinds from the strong dollar, which has pushed up the price that Japanese customers are paying for cod.  So far, most of the big trading houses have absorbed the cost increase, and not passed it on to consumers.  But they are reducing volumes.

On the other hand, East Coast US demand for pacific cod is strong and continues to be healthy.

In Russia, there is a move afoot by the government to subsidize some Murmansk companies to keep a higher proportion of their cod production in the domestic market.

All of these trends together – good demand, lower fresh fish landings, strong salt cod and klippfish markets, and continued preference for Pacific cod in some East coast Markets, all suggest that any price corrections on cod are going to be modest.


Salmon market seen not greatly impacted by Russian ban on Chilean plants
Undercurrents News by Matt Whittaker – February 13, 2015
Russian restrictions on 13 seafood plants in Chile are not anticipated to have big effects on the salmon market.

Russia’s veterinary authority, Rosselkhoznadzor, this year has placed the facilities — including plants owned by salmon producers Aquachile, Blumar Seafoods, Cermaq and Camanchaca — on temporary restriction, meaning they aren’t permitted to sell fish to Russia.

While there could be some upward pressure on prices to Russia, a Chilean exporting source told Undercurrent News the industry there doesn’t expect any major effects on prices because there is processing capacity available in other plants that are still approved by Russia now that the coho season is winding down.

Any increase in price into Russia would be momentary because the market would shift to send those fish originally destined for Russia into Brazil and China, said Eduardo Goycoolea, who is director of sales and marketing at Blumar until the end of March and after which will be the executive director of the New World Currents alliance of salmon farmers.

“This is not a major issue,” he told Undercurrent.

The bigger companies aren’t experiencing major setbacks because of the temporary bans because they have other plants that are not on the banned list, Goycoolea said.

Additionally, a lot of the banned plants have already fixed the issues Russia is concerned about or at least are working on it, a source at a US importer told Undercurrent.

Chilean fish destined for Russia since before the plant ban has been sitting in Russian and Chilean ports after Chilean sellers got over-ambitious because of Russia’s ban on salmon from Norway, said the first US importing source as well as a second.

In response to sanctions against Russia over alleged links to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine, in August president Vladimir Putin introduced a ban on food imports from the European Union, the US, Norway, Canada and Australia.

After Russia’s seafood import ban, Chilean sellers got overly optimistic, increasing prices and taking more orders from Russia, the second US importing source said. But there have been canceled orders and payment disagreements, he said.

That means the recent plant ban isn’t affecting the market because there is already a lot of frozen salmon, instead of the fresh fish that tends to drive market prices, priced into the market, this source said.

A third US importing source agreed that prices for Chilean frozen salmon going into Russia were priced into the market months ago.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Vessels Using Pot Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/17/2015
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2015 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to vessels using pot gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.

Fisheries Off West Coast States; Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery; Trawl Rationalization Program; Midwater Trawl Fishery Season Date Change
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/17/2015
This action would implement revisions to the Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program affecting the limited entry midwater trawl fisheries managed under the Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This action would revise the Shorebased Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program regulations to change the primary season opening date for the shorebased whiting fishery and the shorebased non-whiting midwater trawl fishery to May 15 north of 40°30′ N. lat. to the U.S./Canada border. This moves the season a month earlier off Washington and Oregon, and a month and half later off northern California (north of 40°30′ N. lat.), increasing consistency in the season start date along the coast and between the shorebased and at-sea midwater trawl fleets.


Public meeting scheduled for input on Magnuson-Stevens fishery guidelines
Examiner by Charles Pekow – February 13, 2015
Everyone’s got a chance to weigh in on possible revision of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation & Management Act Guidelines. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has scheduled a public meeting and comment period to hear from the public. NMFS announced in the Federal Register of Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015 that it will accept comments until June 30 and conduct a meeting on Wednesday, March 25, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time.


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Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 16, 2015