Alaska/Pacific Coast

News from Alaska Sea Grant: Fishlines
August 2016
Discovery of New Beaked Whale, New Book Helps Seafood Suppliers Target Hong Kong, 31st Wakefield Fisheries Symposium, Harmful Algal Bloom Workshop, Alaska Ocean Acidification Network

Mothership and Shoreside Whiting Sectors Struggling This Year as Catches Fall Behind
SEAFOOD.COM NEWS by Susan Chambers – August 24, 2016
The 3-sector Pacific whiting fishery so far this year seems to be a mixed bag of slow production, concerns about rockfish bycatch and a little bit of worry about small fish.

So far, the catcher-processor sector is the only one of the three that has exceeded its 2015 whiting catch, harvesting 47,416.77 mt of whiting this year compared with 27,660.38 last year. Still, that’s only 46 percent of its 72,415 mt allocation.

The mothership co-operatives and the shoreside sector are still behind, both relative to last year’s landings and their percentage of annual allocation.

“The only constant about any given whiting season is that we know it will be different than the last one and there will be some new challenge to face and this year is no exception,” United Catcher Boats Executive Director Brent Paine said in an email.

The mothership sector, which has caught 51 percent of its 102,589 mt allocation, suspended most fishing while its vessels participate in the Alaska pollock B season, Paine said in early August. Part of that decision had to do with bycatch. The mothership co-ops operate using five seasonal pools, with rollovers of unused fish allowed if bycatch protocols have not been violated.

The first pool’s allocation of almost 22,000 mt was completely harvested, but not without major rockfish bycatch difficulties, primarily Pacific Ocean perch (POP), Paine said. The whole MS sector is allocated 7.2 mt of POP bycatch but has already used 5.16 mt of POP to catch less than half of its annual whiting allocation. Paine said the movement rules of the co-op require the fleet to move when it meets or exceeds a certain rockfish bycatch threshold rate. “This year, the [catcher vessels], along with its motherships, have made countless moves up and down the coast, due to the movement rules, and to try to avoid high amounts of mostly POP (and widow) [rockfish],” he said.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council has been working with the at-sea sectors to deal with rockfish bycatch. As some stocks rebuild, the whiting fleets are more likely to encounter them and exceed their bycatch limits. POP is especially frustrating since the West Coast population is at the southern extreme of its range that extends from the West Coast through the waters of British Columbia and into the Gulf of Alaska. Hard allocations to the at-sea fleet could mean a complete cessation of fishing if those allocations are exceeded.

For 2016, the PFMC agreed to approve the transfer of any POP left over from the set-asides for research to the at-sea sector. Paine said that transfer could happen later this month and could amount to a couple more metric tons of bycatch.

The shoreside fleet has harvested only 49,342.32 mt of its whiting, or 39 percent of its allocation so far. In 2015, the total whiting landed shoreside was about 58,000 mt, less than half of its allocation. Shoreside processors said whiting catches in Canada have been slow in August, although the fish size has been relatively OK, probably 4- to 6-year-old fish.

Joint meetings between the U. S. and Canada early in the year acknowledged the concern about small fish being caught, despite the high TAC. Both countries’ industries are making efforts to stay away from undersized fish.

“Smaller fish don’t make fillets that are acceptable, ” said Mike Okoniewski, with Pacific Seafood Group.

Still, some small fish has been caught, even as both shoreside and at-sea vessels have had to travel to find schools of hake. That’s prompted processors and distributors to find alternative product forms, rather than simply sending the fish to meal.

Very little surimi production is taking place compared with prior years and filet production is down simply because there are smaller quantities of the larger whiting. Processors said some new markets for whole round hake have opened up, allowing some of the smaller fish to be utilized.

The Pacific whiting season will likely continue into the late fall.

The U. S. worked with Canadian managers and industry to agree to minimize the catch of small whiting, or those under 200 grams. U.S. industry officials have been self-reporting the landings of small fish and so far, all sectors said they have kept the landings of small whiting to less than 20 percent. Paine said the MS fleets have had to move to avoid the small fish.


Google and Oceana Partner to Track Fishing Vessels
Reuters – August 17, 2016
Anyone with internet access and a passion for seafood will soon be able to track commercial fishing trawlers all over the world, with a new tool that its developers hope will help end the overfishing that has decimated the world’s fish stocks.

High Price of Salmon Continues in Japan Amid Dwindling Imports of Coho from Chile

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Japan Reports] – August 24, 2016
Tokyo-  High prices of salmon show no signs of halt in Japan.
Salted coho slices (fillets) from Chile are now traded at Y920 per kilo at Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market, which is 20-30% higher than a year ago.

The average monthly wholesale price of salted coho (imported and domestic products included) at Tsukiji had exceeded the year-before level for five consecutive months until June this year.

In Chile there occurred massive plankton blooms in 2016, causing extensive mortality of larvae.

Japan’s imports of frozen Chilean coho in June plunged 35% from the same month of the previous year to 5,292 tons.

Chilean coho is an important food sales commodity at supermarkets throughout Japan.

A spokesman of Maruetsu, a major supermarket chain operating mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area says that the company is trying hard to slash profit in order to reduce impact of higher wholesale prices on retail prices.

A Chilean coho slice (weighing about 100-120 grams) has been sold for around Y100 in special sales at supermarkets in Tokyo, but some stores are now beginning to sell it for over Y150.

The high price of coho seems to be spreading to the prices of other species of salmon.

Trade statistics show that the import price of Atlantic salmon (served as smoked and other products) in June stood at Y1,063 per kilo, a level 15% higher than a year earlier.

In the months ahead, fishing of wild fall chum will go into full swing in Japan’s northern regions, including Hokkaido and Sanriku.

In Sanriku, the catch has been constantly on a decline since the great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011 that devasted wide areas in northern Japan.

The fisheries technology center in Kamaishi, Iwate–one of Sanriku prefectures–forecasts that fall chum swimming to the Iwate coasts from September 2016 through February 2017 would probably be at a level half that of pre-earthquake years.

Market participants observe that, in case harvests of fall chum in Hokkaido ended in lackluster result this season, it is highly probable that salmon prices in general would be further pushed up.

Brexit Damage to Fish Industry puts Thousands of Jobs at Risk, warns Scottish National Party
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Times] by Hamish Macdonell August 22, 2016
Scotland’s seafood industry could be hugely damaged by Brexit with the loss of millions of pounds in trade and thousands of jobs put at risk, the SNP has claimed.

Nationalist politicians also warned that they might force UK ministers to reveal confidential details of negotiations as they increased pressure on the UK government to explain exactly what form it expected the exit to take.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she will examine all the options to protect Scotland’s interests after Brexit, including a second independence referendum. She has also demanded that Scottish officials and politicians are included in the teams negotiating Britain’s withdrawal.

The SNP turned the focus on to Scotland’s seafood industry with a clear warning that this thriving part of the food and drink sector would suffer hugely unless key concessions on trade and subsidies were secured.

It published figures showing that the industry accounted for more than 60 per cent of Scotland’s food exports to the EU. It exported £438 million of fish and seafood to EU countries last year, while £77 million of EU cash had come to Scotland since 2007, helping to create or safeguard 2,000 jobs.

The SNP said that Scotland would have been due to get about £93 million from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund — almost half (46 per cent) of the UK allocation — by 2023.

Emma Harper, MSP, said: “Without tariff-free access to trade with the EU, rural Scotland would risk losing vital trade that sustains thousands of jobs as well as the EU investment that supports our seafood and agricultural industries. Nearly two months on from the referendum the Tories are no closer to answering any of the central questions about what Brexit will look like, which is why it is absolutely right that the Scottish government remains determined to stop Scotland being dragged out of Europe against our will.”

Stephen Gethins, the SNP’s Europe spokesman at Westminster, sought to increase the pressure on the UK government over Brexit. He said that unless ministers revealed details of the deal it was seeking, the SNP would demand an urgent Commons statement. That would force David Davis, the minister for Brexit, to reveal details of the UK’s negotiating approach to MPs.

The SNP demands came as former senior civil servants forecasted that Brexit would take far longer than expected. Lord Kerslake, former head of the civil service, said he would be “amazed” if withdrawal was completed in 2019, in line with Westminster’s timetable.

Sir John Elvidge, the former top civil servant in the Scottish government, said it was “probably a couple of years further out than 2019”.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Exiting the European Union said: “We will ensure that Scottish interests are fully represented. Ministers have been up in Scotland listening to views there from interested parties and we will give the Scottish government every opportunity to have their say and make suggestions.”


Plankton Population And The Power Of Pink Salmon
KUCB by Zoe Sobel – August 23, 2016
After combing through data from the Aleutian Islands, a scientist has discovered an unexpected relationship between plankton and pink salmon. Although plankton might seem like an ecological afterthought, biological oceanographer Sonia Batten disagrees. She calls them the most important organisms in the ocean.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Economic Exclusive Zone Off Alaska; Deep-Water Species Fishery by Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 08/24/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for species that comprise the deep-water species fishery by vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary because the third seasonal apportionment of the Pacific halibut bycatch allowance specified for the trawl deep-water species fishery in the GOA has been reached.

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Ocean Perch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 08/24/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific ocean perch in the Central Aleutian district (CAI) of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) by vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery. This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2016 total allowable catch (TAC) of Pacific ocean perch in the CAI allocated to vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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Phone: 206.281.1667
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August 24, 2016