Alaska/Pacific Coast

Copper River to Increase Capacity by 5 Million lbs of Sockeye with Purchase in Bristol Bay
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [SeafoodNews] – April 22, 2015
Copper River Seafoods’ announced the acquisition of a new salmon processing facility and associated assets in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The deal has officially been signed. The facility, previously known as Extreme Salmon, is located in Naknek, Alaska.

“The timing couldn’t be better, we’re increasing processing capacity and supporting fishermen of the region during a projected banner year,” said Scott Blake, President and CEO of Copper River Seafoods.  This is the first time Copper River has operated directly on the Bay.

Access to the sockeye salmon resources of Bristol Bay is the next logical step in Copper River Seafoods’ ongoing statewide expansion. The Naknek operations will create approximately 70 new seasonal jobs in the region.  The company employs about 600 people during peak season at its other locations around Alaska,  in Anchorage, Cordova, Kenai, Togiak, and Kotzebue.

“Our plan is for the Naknek operations to produce a mix of frozen headed and gutted sockeye salmon and fresh sockeye fillets, increasing our total production by 4-5 million pounds,” said Blake. The new acquisition strengthens Copper River Seafoods’ position as one of the major wild sockeye producers in the United States.

Salmon from the Naknek, Alaska plant will be both MSC and RFM certified, United States Department of Commerce (USDC) HACCP QMP certified, and the plant will operate under Global Food Safety Initiative Standards.

“We are working swiftly to ensure the plant is fully operational in time for the start of the 2015 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon season and plan to invest several million dollars in the Naknek plant over the next three years,” said Rodger May, a partner in the new operation.

“We are operating in Alaska, using Alaskan resources, and creating Alaskan jobs. For me, that’s what it’s all about,” said Blake.


MSC certified fisheries on track to catch 12 pc of global wild-capture
FIS.COM – April 22, 2015
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) today celebrated 15 years of MSC certified seafood and recognised the ‘leaders for living oceans’ that are driving growth and success in the sustainable seafood market.

Online B2B wholesale sales platform to go up against Urner Barry as spot price authority
Under Current News by Jeanine Stewart – March 24, 2015
What if seafood wholesalers could collect bids for large-volume buys in a transparent online marketplace?

This was Nova Scotia, Canada-based startup Ocean Executive’s pitch to investors last week at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, when the company debuted the first open-market seafood trading platform.

The web-based platform became available to users last week, having been developed using $100,000 in seed money from Innovacorp, an early-stage venture capitalist firm that invests in “Nova Scotia start-ups that strive to change the world”.

Founder Mike Budreski and sales and marketing executive Brian Fong describe it as one part LinkedIn, one part Urner Barry and one part Ebay. Ultimately, their vision is to establish price indexes and futures trading of specific seafood commodities within a targeted two to three years.

“It’s a tool for seafood professionals to find out the fair market value for that product,” said Budreski, who started in the seafood business before going on to become a trader of commodities.

So how does the platform work? First, users sign up and connect with their existing professional contacts. Like LinkedIn, it allows users to see how many contacts one has but not who they are, Budreski said.

Users can initiate public or private auctions, either on the buy or sell side, like on Ebay. The sales platform offers trading in any of the 1,800 species the US Food and Drug Administration has defined as legally sellable in the US. Within each species, they have built granularity into the system; and users can see the full scope of specifications, from chemical additions to sizing.

The live nature of the sales process in the public auctions “gets a lot of excitement into the market place because you’re a trader now”, Burdreski said.

It also pumps some much needed transparency into the seafood market through the public auctions, which will be online, in open marketplace, where the range of spot price offers can be seen in real time. Unlike commodities such as sugar, pork bellies, wheat and corn — all of which have established price indexes and futures trading along with them — no such transparent marketplace exists today for seafood.

Other companies, such as Iceland’s Marko Partners with its “Marko Fish” platform and Shrimp Trader, a US-based startup looking to allow buyers to go direct to the source, are also examples of new entrants to this sector.

The go-to source for spot price data in the US today — Urner Barry — bases its prices on data it gathers confidentially, the same as Undercurrent News on its prices portal.

Ocean Executive provides transparency on timing, as users are also asked to say whether the product is in transit and the date it can be delivered.

“That’s one way of starting into the futures market,” Budreski said.

The company aims to establish futures trading within two to three years. Currently, the only widely known seafood futures price index is the Fish Pool Index, which only applies to Norwegian salmon. Chilean salmon price tracker Salmonex has said it too is working on creating a futures market for Chilean salmon, but this is not launched yet.

Like in other well-established futures markets, Ocean Executive plans to establish a clearing house to screen users, and it is currently in talks with FC Stone to do so. Currently, it is using Seafax and other credit reporting agencies to check into users.

Andrew Ray, investment associate of seed money contributor InnovaCorp, says Budreski and Fong have already managed to fulfill their promise of getting the beta site launched, and they did so under budget, while offering users a price that is competitive with today’s brokers.

“Usually these things take a lot more money than what they [entrepreneurs/startup founders] project, but they’ve really delivered,” Ray told Undercurrent, also adding that Mike has the perfect background to get the project off the ground due to his background. Budreski has more than 15 years of experience in the seafood industry and five years working as an energy commodity broker on the New York Stock Exchange.

Launch of private and public auctions

The open market place is not the only offer Ocean Executive has for users. Since so many sales in seafood are relationship-based, Ocean Executive provides a platform for private auctions in tandem with —  or instead of — open auctions.

Private auctions, Budreski said, provide a more streamlined way to sell to customers they already know.

Either way, the site’s function takes that of a broker, but it keeps other middlemen – the wholesaler, for instance – firmly in the mix while helping them streamline their processes as well.

Fong and Budreski said they knew they had to include the option for private auctions after talking with potential users, who underlined the importance of prioritizing certain potential customers due to the unusually high importance of relationships in the seafood industry.

Out of this need grew the option of private auctions, which allow companies to only invite certain parties to their buy or sell process.

Users can hold private auctions alongside public ones, while prioritizing loyal customers. For example, a seller could stipulate that it will go with offers from the public auction only if they are a certain percentage higher than those in the private auction.

First, Budreski and Fong are starting with processors, who are signing up to the site now and expected to invite buyers, such as major retailers, into the process.


Attention Copper River gillnet fisherman!
A study by the University of Washington aims to assess the unique health risks faced by commercial fishermen

Cordova Times by Jennifer Gibbins – April 22, 2015
A pilot program aims to assess the overall fitness and unique health risks faced by the Copper River gillnet fleet. The study is being conducted by a team from the University of Washington (UW), including Dr. Debra Cherry, who directs the university’s occupational medicine training program.

MSC Global Meeting Hears Progress; Debate on Social Issues and Whether MSC Should Advocate
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – April 22, 2015
Brussels – A well organized and well attended MSC Global Commercial Meeting at the Brussels Seafood Expo this morning showed the full range of successes and challenges currently facing the MSC.

First, Nicolas Guichoux, Global Commercial Director, Highlighted the continued growth of the volume of fisheries in the MSC.  He said currently about 12% of the global catch is certified by the organization, and about another 3% is either in assessment or on the road to assessment.  However, the bulk of this volume still represents the major large volume fisheries, such as cod, pollock, other whitefish and salmon.

There were several comments from the industry panelists and the audience that even at 15%of global catch, the volume of certified fish still would not meet requirements from buyers that all their fish be certified.

Peter Hajipieris, Director of Sustainability & External Affairs at Birds Eye Iglo, said that one reason Iglo could make a committment to 90% of its seafood in Europe being MSC is that they sell a limited range of fish.

Constant Mulder, Founder and Non-executive Director, Anova Seafood, suggested that there was a lot of work to be done with smaller scale tropical fisheries, and that many tools were needed.  However, he said that his committment to sustiainability as a core value of his company, begining in 2002, allowed him to be proud to be in the fish business.  He no longer had to hide what he did at social events in the Netherlands.

Guichoux reported that according to their surveys, there is a 14% increase in buyers seeking sustainable seafood.

The meat of the discussion was sparked by a question on how MSC could deal with labor issues such as possible slavery on tuna vessels.

Rupert Howes said that at the very beginning of the MSC, there was consideration of a 4th principle that would deal with social responsibility.  However, this was dropped because the stakeholders made a decision to focus on environmental standards, and because it was hard to measure or come up with agreed standards on labor issues.

Despite some in the MSC supporting a social component, Howes said that such a certification was beyond the capability of the MSC, and that the MSC could not be all things to all people.  He recommended that companies needed a social certification look into a separate audit mechanism.

Krishan Kent, Purchasing Director, Orkla Foods, suggested that knowing in detail your suppliers, being familiar with their fishery, and avoiding places and fisheries that are at high risk of problems was another key to avoiding the reputational risk of selling tainted seafood.

He said that when WWF first made charges of IUU fishing on cod, purchasing of cod dropped 40% in Sweden.  His customers are extremely sensitive to these issues.

A second question that came up was whether the MSC should more forcefully lobby governments on fishery management issues.  Should they become an advocacy organization?

In the coffee break before the meeting, Brian Perkins, the new America’s commercial director, said that the organization was a measurment organization, not a management organization.

In the role of measurement, the MSC does not lobby governments.  Hajipieris cautioned that fisheries were national soverign resources..they did not belong to Iglo or the buyers, and that it was a government decision how to manage its fisheries.  He said he would be uncomfortable coming in to a region and telling a government how to manage its fisheries.

The consensus seemed to be that major issues that will help such as Port State ratification and rules about labor and vessel flagging will have to come from advocy outside of the MSC.

The meeting was well run, well organized, and showcased the maturity of the MSC as an organization, acting in a multi-polar world with a range of fisheries, social, and environmental issues, to which it may not have all the answers.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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April 22, 2015