Alaska/Pacific Coast

Bristol Bay Salmon Prices Trending Up
Fishermen’s News – November 30, 2016
A new market report on the Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery says wholesale prices for sockeye products are trending up, and that product appears to be moving faster this year.

New Assessment Shows Abundant Pollock
Fishermen’s News – November 30, 2016
A new assessment produced by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center shows that the abundance of Alaska Pollock stocks – Alaska’s largest fishery by volume – in the Eastern Bering Sea is quite robust.

Ecosystem Reports at Council Point to Possible Future Declines in Pollock, Cod after some Good Years
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – November 30, 2016
One of the changes made by NOAA scientists monitoring the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska in recent years has been the inclusion of ecosystem monitoring in their stock status reports.  There are now ecosystem chapters in the S.A.F.E (stock assessment and fishery evaluation) reports, required by Magnuson.

This is a significant and beneficial change so that no longer are the reports exclusively focused on single stocks, but now they include measures of general productivity and timing of plankton blooms that can be useful in understanding future recruitment success.

For the Bering Sea, the council report says that anomalous warm conditions continued for the third straight year.  Despite the weakening of the El Nino, water temperatures are not cooling.  “Both surface and bottom temperature means for the 2016 eastern Bering Sea shelf were the highest on record in the 35-year bottom trawl survey time series. The 2016 mean surface temperature was 9.5 C, which was 2.3 C higher than 2015 and 3.1 C above the time-series mean (6.4 C). The mean bottom temperature was 4.5 C, which was 1.2 C higher than 2015 and 2.2 C above the time-series mean (2.4 C).”

As a result, many indicators showed a decline in productivity.  Larval pollock distributions exhibited a spatial mismatch.  Nevertheless, actual fish health was good on both pollock and cod with average weight at length above the long term mean.  The current pollock biomass is dominated by a few strong year classes.

For the Gulf of Alaska, the ecosystem report was done for the first time, following the model done for the Bering Sea. The report looks at ten factors for both the Western and Central Gulf and the Eastern Gulf.

For the Western areas, no significant changes were recorded except for continued warm conditions, and a decline in capelin since 2013.  The long-term decline in fish apex predator biomass has leveled off, with slight increases in both arrowtooth flounder and halibut in 2015.

For the Eastern Gulf, warm conditions were also noted, along with low zooplankton density.  Herring has also been decreasing since 2011, although it is still above the long-term median biomass.  Data from bird observations were that chicks were not getting enough food, suggesting some difficulty in finding prey.

The one item of note was the growth of salp – a marine invertebrate which can consume large volumes of plankton and are often seen as an indicator of low productivity.

The report on Pacific cod in the Gulf suggests a decline in biomass and the allowable catch.  Last year the TAC was set at 71,925 tons, but only 39,544 tons was caught.  This year the TAC may be lower, but better bycatch management might allow for a higher overall landing total.

For the Bering Sea, the P Cod ABC will take a slight dip in 2017, and rebound to 255,000 tons in 2018.  The 2016 TAC was 238,680 tons, with a catch so far of 210,110 tons.  A slight decrease in 2017 is likely.


Alaska Continues to Lead All States in Volume of Seafood Landings
Fishermen’s News – December 1, 2016
A new federal report on the nation’s fisheries confirms that Alaska, with six billion pounds, led all states in volume of seafood landings in 2015, and that seafood consumption by the average American rose by nearly a pound.


Canada’s largest herring fishery achieves MSC certification
Saving Seafood – November 29, 2016
The following was released by the Marine Stewardship Council:
TORONTO — The Canada 4VWX purse seine herring fishery in the Bay of Fundy area is the third and largest Canadian herring fishery to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification as sustainable and well managed.  Herring products from the purse seine vessels and processing companies based in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick can now carry the blue MSC label to inform customers the fishery meets a global standard for sustainability.

Russian Salmon Catches Exceed 420,000 tons this year, 4th Largest Volume since 2000
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – December 1, 2016
Russia’s Pacific salmon catch has exceeded 420,000 tons this season.  That total represents the 4th largest catch in the past 16 years, so this year was in the top quartile for Russia.

According to the  North Pacific Development Association based in Sapporo, the Russian ministry announced that they had exceeded last season’s catch by 14%.

By species, pink salmon topped with around 210,000 tons, accounting for 61% of the total catch.

It was followed by chum with 25%  (107,000 tons), sockeye with 12% (51,000 tons) , coho with 1.6%, chinook with 0.2% and other salmon with 0.2%.

The large volume of pinks in Russia has helped offset some of the lack of pink salmon in Alaska.

Alaska’s pink salmon season in 2016 was one of  “the worst harvests we’ve had in the last 35 years”, said Forest Bowers of ADF&G.  The statewide total was 39 million fish.  With an average weight of around 5 pounds, this translates to 88,400 tons, or 40% of the Russian harvest.

ADF&G is predicting an improvement in 2017.

Labeling and Marketing

Millennials thinking differently about seafood, marketers say
Seafood Source by Cliff White – November 22, 2016
A panel of millennial fishermen and seafood professionals offered tips and secrets of marketing their products to their generation during a forum at the 2016 Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, Washington, on Saturday, 19 November.


Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Chooses Tyson Fick As New Director
KUCB by Laura Kraegel  – November 30, 2016
Tyson Fick has been named executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers (ABSC) — an industry group that represents most of the crab fishermen working in federal waters off Alaska.

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December 1, 2016