Alaska/Pacific Coast

Southeast Dungeness crab harvest below average
KFSK by Angela Denning – December 17, 2015
Most areas in Southeast closed to commercial fall fishing for Dungeness crab on November 30. The State has crunched the numbers and the season was below average in both harvest and participation.

ADF&G Releases Yukon Salmon Season Report
KYUK by Charles Enoch –  December 18, 2015
There were a total of 44 commercial fishing openers for coho and chum in the Yukon River, most of which were held in the lower river districts. Commercial fisherman harvested approximately 190,00 chum and a record breaking almost 130,000 coho salmon, raking in a total of almost $1.5 million.


President Signs Omnibus Spending Bill Officially Changing Legal Market Name for Pollock
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – December 21, 2015
Members of the U.S. pollock industry are lauding the efforts of the Washington and Alaska Congressional delegations for finally correcting a name change that levels the market playing field and underscores truth in labeling.

The federal omnibus spending bill that Congress passed and the President signed on Friday included a key section that changes the market name of the nation’s largest fishery from “Alaska pollock” to “pollock,” and restricts the geographic descriptor “Alaska” from being used except on pollock harvested from that state.

The new law corrects decades of consumer and market confusion over the use of the market name “Alaska pollock” on the species Gadus chalcogrammus, regardless of where it was harvested. Before the law was enacted, pollock from both Russia and Alaska were sold as “Alaska pollock,” making it impossible for consumers to determine product origin and to make a choice between the two sources.

“Seafood consumers across the nation gained more certainty about the source of the seafood they buy,” said Pat Shanahan, Program Director for the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, the industry trade association that initiated the name change.

“In 2013, 152 million pounds of Russian pollock, which is less sustainable and lower quality than pollock from Alaska fisheries, was sold to U.S. consumers as “Alaska pollock,” said Shanahan. “Our research showed that the vast majority of consumers thought products labeled “Alaska pollock” came from Alaska, and they felt the name was very misleading when applied to Russian pollock.”

Russian pollock now makes up over 40 percent of the pollock available to U.S. consumers, so the change will provide a boost to Alaska’s pollock producers, who have been struggling in a tough domestic market. From 2007 to 2014, the consumption of Alaska pollock in the United States declined by more than 40 percent.

“Because we haven’t been able to distinguish our products from lower priced pollock from Russia, the price of Alaska pollock has been kept artificially low,” said Shanahan. Over the past eight years, the price premium that once-frozen Alaska pollock has held over twice-frozen, Russian-caught product that has been processed in China has declined. In 2007, it was 35 percent.  In 2015, it is only 18 percent. “With this new law, we will be able to associate the better quality and world class sustainability of Alaska pollock with a name that is truthful and easily recognizable for consumers. Hopefully, that will result in better seafood for consumers and better market conditions for our producers,” she added.

“Alaska pollock producers will be moving next to seek changes in EU labeling requirements so that superior quality, sustainably managed Alaska pollock is transparently identified in one our largest export markets,” noted Shanahan. “Congress’ action helps immeasurably in promoting truth in labeling domestically, now we need to explore our options for overseas consumers who also deserve to know the provenance of their seafood,” concluded Shanahan.

The provision in the omnibus spending package was pushed by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (D-WA) and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who introduced stand-alone bills to change the law, bills co-sponsored by all members of the Washington and Alaska Congressional delegations.  U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Lisa Murkowski, who serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee, played key roles in securing inclusion of the pollock nomenclature provision in the end of year catch-all spending bill.

FDA must develop plan to label genetically engineered salmon, Congress says
Washington Post by Brady Dennis – December 17, 2015
The sprawling federal spending bill unveiled this week on Capitol Hill included a small passage with potentially big implications in the food world.

Photos: Historic Alaska salmon labels
Alaska Dispatch News by Maria Dudzak – December 20, 2015
KETCHIKAN — University of Washington doctoral candidate Ross Coen was in Ketchikan recently to research a subject he’s passionate about: salmon can labels.

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Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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December 21, 2015