Alaska/Pacific Coast

North Pacific council cuts Bering Sea salmon bycatch caps
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – April 16, 2015
The most iconic Alaska fish is in puzzling decline, and the mission for both state and federal fisheries managers is to spread the pain as evenly as possible.

Alaska salmon processors considering rejoining MSC certification
FIS.COM – April 17, 2015
Three years after leaving the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification programme, some Alaska salmon processors are planning to once more join it in an effort to face the current tough market.

The Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT.ORG – April 16, 2015
Coming up this week, the big salmon packers announce they want to rejoin the Marine Stewardship Council’s sustainability certification program, the North Pacific Council hands down some steep cuts on Chinook bycatch and sablefishermen in the Gulf will have a smaller catch this season. All that and more, coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KDLG’s Dave Bendinger in Dillingham, KUCB’s Lauren Rosenthal reporting from Anchorage, and KCHU’s Marcia Lynn in Valdez.


US Fishery Management Under MSA Improves Again with Overfished, Overfishing Numbers at All-Time Low
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh – April 16, 2015

 US fishery management under Magnuson continues to work according to NOAA’s latest annual status report released this week. Last year US fisheries recorded 7 percent reductions in both the number of fisheries currently experiencing overfishing and the amount of fisheries whose stocks are overfished.

In NOAA’s 2014 Status of US Fisheries report the number of domestic fish stocks listed as overfished or subject to overfishing has dropped to an all-time low since 1997, when NOAA began tracking stock status. By the end of last year 26 stocks were on the overfishing list and 37 stocks were on the overfished list. Each of these numbers were all-time lows for US fisheries. In total NOAA tracks 469 managed stocks and stock complexes in 46 fishery management plans.

A stock that is experience overfishing means the annual catch rate is too high to support the maximum sustainable yield (MSY), a figure scientifically required to support a long-term average catch. An overfished stock means the current population of the fishery may not support the MSY. This can be the result of overfishing or environmental issues such as disease.

Albacore tuna in the North Atlantic and gag grouper in the Gulf of Mexico were removed from the overfished list, while none were added.

Meanwhile, six stocks were removed the overfishing list: snowy grouper on the southern Atlantic coast; North Atlantic albacore; haddock in the Gulf of Maine; gag grouper in the South Atlantic; the Jacks complex in the Gulf of Mexico; and, Bluefin tuna in the western Atlantic–were removed from the overfishing list.

“This report illustrates that the science-based management process under the Magnuson-Stevens Act is working to end overfishing and rebuild stocks,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “While we have made tremendous progress, we know there’s more work to be done — especially as we continue to document changes to our world’s oceans and ecosystems. We will continue to strive toward sustainable management of our nation’s fisheries in order to preserve our oceans for future generations.”

The report also found that three more fish stocks: Gulf of Maine/Cape Hatteras butterfish; Gulf of Mexico gag grouper; and, Mid-Atlantic Coast golden tilefish were rebuilt to target levels in 2014, bringing the total number of rebuilt U.S. marine fish stocks to 37 since 2000.

“Our agency wants to let consumers know that the United States’ global leadership in responsible fisheries and sustainable seafood is paying off,” Sobeck said. “We are moving forward more than ever with efforts to replicate and export stewardship practices internationally. As a result of the combined efforts of NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils, and all of our partners, the number of stocks listed as subject to overfishing or overfished continues to decline and is at an all-time low.”

Labeling and Marketing

Standards for organic seafood coming this year, USDA says
Associated Press  By MARY CLARE JALONICK – April 16, 2015
WASHINGTON (AP) – After more than a decade of delays, the government is moving toward allowing the sale of U.S.-raised organic fish and shellfish. But don’t expect it in the grocery store anytime soon.


Multiple Signs Point to Tough Summer Season for Farmed Salmon Market
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh – April 16, 2015
There is growing concern among traders that the US farmed salmon market this summer could see pricing levels not seen for several years. The worry stems from the convergence of current market weakness, higher imports, expectations of more wild Alaskan salmon and the strong US dollar all coming to a head in the upcoming summer months.  In most years, according to Urner Barry’s Farmed Salmon Index,  there is a seasonal drop in farmed salmon prices over the summer.

Farmed salmon market prices spent much of 2014 in retreat. Urner Barry’s salmon index fell about 25 percent last year to the lowest average monthly price since early 2013. Record Chilean production and imports, plus additional supply from Norway helped drive the market down for most of the year.

This year salmon prices have continued to come down, just not at the same rate as the 2014 decline. So far UB’s Farmed Salmon Index shows a small 1.6 percent fall in the market since January.

A look at Urner Barry’s Farmed Salmon Index shows the market has been in an extended decline since 2014. Prices continue to trend lower ahead of the summer months. Over the last few years farmed prices have dipped during the second and the third quarters of the year.
Source: Urner Barry

However, traders have noted some concern about price trends for the remainder of the year, particularly the summer season. History shows that farmed salmon prices trend down during the summer months. To begin with, farmed salmon is not as popular grilling season item among consumers at the retail level. However, wild Alaskan salmon, especially sockeye, is wildly popular for grilling.  So sockeye cuts into retail farmed salmons sales.

This year, the competion from sockeye will be even stronger, given projected runs.

First, Alaska’s total salmon run has been forecast at about 220 million fish this season. Expectations are that this year’s pink and sockeye runs will be among the highest in 50 years. Bristol Bay’s sockeye harvest is expected to be slightly less than 37 million fish, up about 25%.  Sockeye runs are also forecast to be higher in other parts of the state.

Second, farmed production and imports to the US continue to increase driven by Chile and now Norway. Total fresh Atlantic salmon fillet imports are up 5 percent this year through February. Shipments from traditional supplier Chile are up 9.5 percent so far in 2015. Meanwhile, Norway has cranked up its shipments by 14 percent to the US market. The Norwegians have taken advantage of a strong US dollar to send more salmon to the market, particularly after losing access to their traditional export markets in Russian and China last year.

With expectations for much more wild Alaskan salmon and no indications that imported volumes will slow this year, US salmon inventories are poised to be well-supplied heading into the summer.

This could be problematic for traders if the historical trend of a seasonal lull in sales and prices persists into the second and third quarters. Similar conditions observed over the last few summer seasons shows how prices can decline dramatically. Take just last year where the Farmed Index plunged 15 percent between May and September.

Urner Barry’s farmed salmon Index is already averaging at around $3.70 per pound. At these levels, any notable seasonal decline in prices this summer has the potential of sending the market to ranges not seen since 2012 and 2013; its operating at those levels that has traders nervous as the industry looks past Memorial Day.


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 17, 2015