Alaska/Pacific Coast

No herring fishery in Seymour Canal this year, good run predicted in future years
KFSK by Angela Denning – January 28, 2016
There will be no gill net herring fishery in Seymour Canal in Southeast Alaska again this year. Most of the herring will be too small to harvest the roe. KFSK’s Angela Denning reports:
http://www.kfsk.org/2016/01/28/no-herring-fishery-in-seymour-canal-this-year-good-run-predicted-in-future-years/

Halibut commission boosts coast-wide catch limit
KFSK by Joe Viechnicki – January 29, 2016
The International Pacific Halibut Commission Friday approved an increase in halibut catch limits for most of the coast.
The joint U.S. and Canadian body oversees management of the prized bottom fish from California to Alaska. The commission held its annual meeting in Juneau last week.
http://www.alaskapublic.org/2016/01/29/halibut-commission-boosts-coast-wide-catch-limit/

National

FDA Bans GM Salmon Shipments to US Market Pending Final Labeling Guidelines
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh – February 1, 2016
The FDA has banned genetically engineered salmon from entering the US market until final labeling guidelines for the product are published.

Last week the FDA issued Import 99-40 that says: “the FDA shall not allow the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food that contains genetically engineered salmon, until FDA publishes final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of such content.”

In November the FDA approved the sale of genetically modified salmon from AquaBounty Technologies. The AquAdvantage salmon is produced from a transgenic Atlantic salmon egg that combines the genes of an ocean pout and a Chinook salmon. The end result is a modified salmon with a quicker grow out time versus the traditional farmed process. AquaBounty’s salmon is raised using a land-based, closed containment facility.

The approval ended a 20-year hold up by the FDA in permitting the sale of the product in the US market.

However, Alaskan Senator Lisa Murkowski is a staunch opponent of the FDA’s decision. The Senator has been specifically vocal about the lack of mandatory labeling required for the GMO salmon. In January, Murkowski helped block the final Senate approval of FDA Commissioner nominee Dr. Robert Califf.

“This is a huge step in our fight against ‘Frankenfish,’ I adamantly oppose the FDA’s misguided decision to allow GE salmon to be placed in our kitchens and on our tables, and I firmly believe that mandatory labeling guidelines must be put in place as soon as possible so consumers know what it is they are purchasing,” Murkowski said in a press release. “It seems that the FDA has begun to listen, and I hope this is a sign that the agency plans to develop these necessary guidelines.”

So far there is no specific date for when the FDA will publish labeling guidelines for genetically modified salmon.

AquaBounty Technologies’ AquAdvantage salmon is the only GM salmon or fish currently approved for sale in the US market. The fish is produced in farms in Panama and Canada.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1007580/FDA-Bans-GM-Salmon-Shipments-to-US-Market-Pending-Final-Labeling-Guidelines

The Entire US Fisheries Management System Can be Certified as Meeting FAO Ecolabel Guidelines
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton – February 1, 2016

US fisheries are generally acknowledged to be among the best managed in the world, meaning that systems are in place to prevent overfishing, and when overfishing is identified due to changes in stock status or environmental conditions, rules are in place to eliminate it

At the height of the controversy a few years ago as to whether Walmart, Sodexo, and other major seafood users could accept Alaska’s fisheries as certified by the RFM program as sustainable if they were not part of the MSC, some stakeholders asked why not certify all the US fisheries as sustainable.

The Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee (MAFAC), an official advisory committee to NOAA, took up this idea, and recommended that NOAA establish a Seafood Certification Framework and Program.

The public comments on this approach questioned whether users of certification schemes would  accept a NOAA standard, even if it was peer reviewed or audited by an independent 3rd party.

Most certification schemes are based on individual fisheries, which have to prove they have an acceptable level of management and oversight.   At a conference two years ago in New Orleans, sponsored by Ocean Trust, the idea was put forward to certify the management process itself, rather than the individual fisheries.

Scientists have demonstrated repeatedly that over time, when sustainable management is in place, fish stocks recover and overfishing is ended.  This has been the trajectory of the US over the past twenty years.

On Friday, NOAA released a new, peer reviewed comparison of the US fishery management system with the FAO guidelines for responsible fishing.

“The objective of the current assessment is to evaluate conformance of U.S. federal fishery management processes relative to the “Minimum Substantive Requirements and Criteria for Ecolabelling” section of the FAO Guidelines. The FAO Guidelines, in addition to most ecolabelling schemes, concentrate on evaluating discrete management techniques implemented on a fishery-by-fishery basis; however, the approach of this conformance assessment focuses on the management system as a whole rather than that of an individual fishery. Sustainability may be assessed better by focusing on the overarching management system. This takes the focus from a snapshot of stock status or fishing level of one fishery in isolation, to looking instead at the capacity of the system to respond to changes in stock levels or impacts via management measures in all fisheries under a given jurisdiction. “

This assessment was authored by Dr. Michelle Walsh, a former NOAA Fisheries Knauss Fellow and current member of the Marine Science Faculty at Florida Keys Community College.  “While the performance of U.S. fisheries clearly illustrates that the U.S. management system is effective, my colleagues and I wanted to evaluate the U.S. approach to fisheries management as a whole against these international guidelines for ecolabeling seafood,” said Walsh.

Walsh found that the U.S. federal fisheries management system meets all of the FAO guidelines for sustainability.

The report was then peer reviewed by NOAA’s committee of independent experts, to remove any bias in the NOAA self-assessment.

Overall, the report shows that of eight key criteria considered important by FAO, NOAA’s management is in full conformity with 7 of the items, and in partial conformity with the 8th item, which is consideration of long term changes in the ecosystem.

For three items, independent verification is not complete.

The report shows that overall, NOAA could likely take steps to comply with the GSSI requirements for government sustainability certifications if it were to make some further efforts at establishing an independent verification scheme.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1007577/The-Entire-US-Fisheries-Management-System-Can-be-Certified-as-Meeting-FAO-Ecolabel-Guidelines

 

Environment/Science

Microsoft is experimenting with underwater data centers
Is data better down where it’s wetter?
The Verge by James Vincent – February 1, 2016
When your laptop or your smartphone gets hot, you know it’s crunching a lot of data. So you can imagine the amount of heat generated by the racks upon racks of servers that store and process the world’s digital lives. Keeping these data centers cool is such a problem that tech companies like Facebook and Google prefer to move them to colder countries than pay the air conditioning bill. But for Microsoft, there’s an even better home for all that data: under the sea.
http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/1/10883866/microsoft-underwater-data-centers

Labeling and Marketing

MSC Products Losing Ground in UK Retail Market
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton – January 29, 2016 The latest MSC report on the use of MSC labeled products in the UK retail sector shows a shrinking market if measured buy volume.

This week the MSC released its latest survey of market penetration for MSC labeled wild seafood products.  The survey measured both the percentage of wild caught seafood labeled as MSC and the actual number of MSC labeled products for each of the major UK retail banners.

Overall, the numbers showed a significant decline in the total use of the MSC logo among UK retailers, although certain retailers, especially Sainsbury, Lidl, and Aldi, increased their use of MSC labeled products.

3 if the 4 largest UK retailers – Tesco, Morrison’s and Asda, reduced the number of MSC labeled products on their shelves.  Along with Marks and Spencer, which also reduced the number of MSC labeled products, this group accounts for 60% of  total UK retail grocery sales.  In total, this group reduced their MSC labeled products by 30% from 2014.

A smaller group, including Sainsbury’s with a 17% market share, plus Aldi, Lidl, Waitrose and the Co-op, increased the number of MSC labeled products.  Together this group represents 38% of the UK retail grocery market, and they added a total of 138 additional MSC labeled SKU’s.  This group increased their use of MSC labeled products by 44%.

The trend does not mean that these retailers were selling less sustainable seafood.  With the exception of Alaska Salmon, where about 80% of the 2015 production was not labeled by MSC, virtually all other major UK sources of wild fish are in the MSC program.

The trend implies that as sustainable fish is more accepted as the norm, the large retailers see less advantage in paying to use the MSC logo

Sainsbury’s remains the UK’s biggest retailer of MSC certified seafood, a position it has held for six years.  It now carries 200 MSC labelled products – more than twice the number offered by any other UK retailer. Currently, 76% of Sainsbury’s wild-caught seafood has been MSC certified as sustainable, and the supermarket has made a commitment to independently certify 100% of its seafood as sustainable by 2020.

Toby Middleton, MSC’s Programme Director for the UK & North East Atlantic, said: “Sainsbury’s and Waitrose have long been committed to sourcing seafood that has been independently certified as sustainable, and it’s great to see Lidl and Aldi following suit as they grow their market share and seek to get more customers through their doors.”

(click on chart for larger image)
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1007375/MSC-Products-Losing-Ground-in-UK-Retail-Market

3MMI – The Pollock Test Fishery Results are in – What the Numbers mean for Buyers…
TradexFood – January 25, 2016
3-Minute Market Insight:
The Prince William Sound Pollock test fishery began last week and the first harvests are in – Processors are disappointed as fishing has been EXTREMELY slow and most fish are smaller than they are used to. Processors in the Bering Sea are delighted to see larger sized cod landings as their neighbours in the Gulf of Alaska receiving extremely small fish.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH3pZuJ8W-U

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
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Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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February 1, 2016