Alaska/Pacific Coast

Feds approve fish pots to outsmart opportunistic whales
Seattle Times by Hal Bernton – April 14, 2015
Gulf of Alaska whales that dine on hooked black cod are likely to find slimmer pickings in the years ahead.

West Coast sardine fishery closed due to collapse
FIS.COM – April 15, 2015
The West Coast sardine fishing season that was going to start in July has been cancelled, which has raised controversy as to the reasons for the dwindling numbers of specimens of this pelagic resource.

Chinook salmon conservation on agenda in Whitehorse talks
Yukon River Panel meets to plan this year’s strategy to increase dwindling stocks
CBC News – April 13, 2015
Delegates from Yukon and Alaska are in Whitehorse this week to come up with a conservation strategy for the declining Chinook salmon stocks in the Yukon River for the coming season.



Board of Fish Passes House Hearing, now being Questioned in Senate
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [Juneau Resources Weekly] by David Theriault – April 15, 2015
The Ruffner Appointment has upset the Status Quo at the Board of Fisheries.

Gov. Walker’s appointments to Board of Fisheries continue to buck tradition. His first choice, Roland Maw, faced questions on his ability to serve impartially before he withdrew his nomination amidst controversy on hunting violations in Montana. Now lawmakers are concerned that Walker’s replacement, Robert Ruffner, can not be easily labelled.

Over the years, seats on the seven member Board of Fisheries have been held by three commercial fishing representatives, three sport fishing representatives, and a lone subsistence member. No law requires that seats are held by representatives from specific user groups but Governors in recent memory have maintained that balance.

Gov. Walker broke from that tradition when he appointed Maw, giving the commercial fishing industry four representatives on the board. Walker ignored custom again with Ruffner’s appointment.

Ruffner is not easily categorized as he has never held a commercial fishing permit nor earned his living in the sport fishing industry. A long-term resident of the Kenai Peninsula, he also has little personal experience with the rural subsistence fisheries.

One lawmaker at confirmation hearing tried to characterize Ruffner as a commercial fishing representative despite his lack of involvement in that sector.

“I’ve heard there’s a shake up with the folks making appointments…to make a majority of membership from commercial fish,” said Sen. Bill Stoltze. “I see the exact same people supporting you with the same fervor. The exact same commercial interests.”

Public support for Ruffner’s appointment in legislative filings came from more than the commercial sector as Stoltze suggested and included sport fishing groups and dipnetting organizations. Most of the public comments highlighted Ruffner’s track record of habitat protection and restoration through his work as Executive Director at the Kenai Watershed Forum.

Ruffner is also uncomfortable with the status quo of rationing Board of Fisheries seats among stakeholder groups.

“To say that we should have a Board member that comes on that readily identifies themselves in one camp or another, I’m at a lost to say that’s how we should proceed,” Ruffner responded to questioning at a confirmation hearing this week.

All of Gov. Walker’s appointees are awaiting a confirmation vote scheduled for late next week. Ruffner needs a majority of legislators to support his appointment at that time.

Labeling and Marketing

Better Shrimp, Salmon and Tilapia Margins Help Push Lenten Retail Seafood Promos Up 24% in 2015
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh – April 13, 2015
Better margins on shrimp, salmon and tilapia sales helped retailers promote a lot more seafood during Lent this year compared to the 2014 period.

The 2015 Lenten season began February 18 and April 2, a bit earlier compared to 2014 when the Holy Period started March and lasted through April 17. The season is traditionally a high point for seafood sales across industry regardless of when Lent falls on the calendar.

According to Urner Barry’s retail database, overall seafood promotions in store circulars were up 24 percent during the 2015 Lenten compared 2014. The data analyzed compared 2015 Lenten season ad across the 12 major metropolitan areas to the weeks of the 2014 season. Shrimp features were up 56 percent while Atlantic salmon promotions were up 24 percent.

Now, Lent is traditionally a high point for seafood sales in general. Quick service chains often add seafood items to their menus in those weeks or offer seafood deals and discounts to customers. Retailer also crank up seafood promotions in their weekly ad circulars.

However, unlike in past seasons, wholesale shrimp, salmon and tilapia market prices fell for much of 2014. Since retailers often place program orders far in advance it takes time for lower wholesale prices to be reflected at the consumer level. For example, Lenten season program orders are usually set in the third and fourth quarter of the prior year.

Take shrimp, where the following Urner Barry chart shows how the percent change in the average wholesale margin for 31-40 count white shrimp was up anywhere between 8 and 16 percent throughout Lent this year.

A similar situation happened for Atlantic salmon. On average, Urner Barry’s farmed salmon index is down nearly 27 percent since January 2014. However, the median price for Atlantic salmon fillets held at $7.99 per pound between Lent 2014 and Lent 2015.

The same was seen for frozen tilapia features. Again median prices between Lent 2014 and 2015 went unchanged at $4.99 per pound while Urner Barry’s wholesale price for 3-5 ounce frozen fillets fell over 14 percent between January 2014 and April of this year.

At the start of the Lenten season John Sackton reported how intial retail feature data showed this year could be an improvement over last season. At the Sackton reported how higher sales with little price reduction is an indication of improving seafood demand.   Retailers clearly increased their sales volume – as more promotions translate directly to higher volumes.

However, a harder look at the data shows better shrimp, salmon and tilapia margins may have also prompted retailers increase their seafood promotions during Lent this year.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail:; Website:
Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

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April 15, 2015