Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Halibut’s Responsible Fisheries Management Certification is Renewed
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – February 13, 2017
The Alaska halibut fishery has been awarded continued certification to the Alaska Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) Certification Program. Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) announce the finding late last week.

This is the first reassessment of Alaska halibut under Alaska’s RFM program, after initially being certified in April 2011. The fishery is also certified by the Marine Stewardship Council’s program. The fishery client is the Fishing Vessel Owners Association, based in Seattle.

In the more than 125 management standards used in RFM sustainability certification, the Alaska halibut fishery received highest marks in all but one: observer coverage. Although National Marine Fisheries Service changed the federal observer program to include the halibut longline fleet in 2013, the new plan, which was paid for by the halibut industry, was fraught with problems. Many longline vessels cannot support an additional observer onboard without significant impact on their crew size and efficiency, so have preferred electronic monitoring (EM) as an alternative data and observation source.

The assessment report includes details for what it describes as a “minor” non-conformance.

“For 2016, 58 fixed-gear vessels 40-57.5 ft LOA will [sic] participate in the EM selection pool and will carry EM systems as described in the EM Plan. The Observer Program Annual Report (NMFS 2015a) and the Observer Program Supplement Environmental Assessment (NMFS 2015b) have highlighted the data gaps caused by not having any observer information on vessels less than 40 ft LOA. In 2014, vessels less than 40 ft took about 20% (in value) of the longline halibut catch in Alaska (Fissel et al. 2015). NMFS recommended in its 2016 Deployment Plan138 that vessels less than 40ft LOA be considered for electronic monitoring in the future, and there are plans to partially implement EM in this sector in 2017.”

Details of the assessment can be found in the Final Assessment Report.
For more information on Alaska RFM certification, visit here.

How Alaskans Forced Snow Crab Prices Above $8.00; This Price Likely to Carry Through to Boston
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – February 15, 2016
Reports from Japan say “Bering Sea Opilio Prices are escalating wildly above $8.00” due to the production cutback in Alaska.

As a result wholesale snow crab prices in Japan have smashed all records, and are up about 50% over last year.

As of this week, about 12.6 million pounds has been caught, and 9 million pounds remains to be fished, or about 41% of the total 21.6 million pounds which includes both the IFQ and CDQ fisheries.

Alaskan packers successfully pushed the Japanese into taking higher prices.  Reports are that peer lb. prices in Japan are $8.35 for 5-8 oz; $8.55 for 8 ups, and $8.45 for ocean run.

Last year prices for Alaskan crab were contracted at $5.90 for 5-8 oz sections.

Total section production from Alaska will be about 6100 tons, of which only about 1600 tons will go to Japan.  Traders report that 800 tons will come to Trident related companies in Japan; 500 tons to Maruha Nichiro, and 200-300 tons for Nippon Suisan.

The remaining 4500 tons will be sold in the US.

According to Japanese traders, the business strategy of the Alaskan companies was to lock in a US price, and then present it to Japan.

This year Red Lobster which normally takes the lead in setting contract prices for the past few years, stayed on the sidelines.  So producers went to Joe’s Crab Shack, and negotiated a price of $8.35 FOB Seattle for 5-8’s.

Because Joe’s Crab Shack is in Chapter 11 proceedings, it is not a credit risk because the payments to vendors are secured during a bankruptcy proceeding.

Packers than took this $8.35 contract to Japan.   This has meant 2200 to 2300 Yen prices, which is the highest level seen in recent years, and represents a 600 yen increase over last year.

Prices for legmeat, once the sections are processed in China, will now be in the 6600 Yen range for the highest grade L size, and 6700 yen for the 2L size.  Standard grade product will be 5350 and 5400 yen per kg.

Traders think the $8.00 prices will also be on offer at the Boston Seafood Show.  However, they hold out hope for an early opening of the Canadian Gulf season, especially if ice conditions are not severe this year.

The Canadian Gulf quota is expected to rise between 70% and 100% (or double), while Newfoundland production is expected to fall about 15%.

The net result is that the Gulf should offset the decline in both Alaska and Newfoundland.

Japanese sources say that if the supply rebounds, they would expect the market eventually to return to the 2016 early season level of around $6.00 per lb.

Another factor for Japan is the increase in Opilio quota from Russia, which is also expected this year.

However, the Japanese also are cognizant of the strong pressure from harvesters to get paid based on the current market, and the likely competition for raw material among Canadian processors.

As far as snow crab buyers go, all eyes are on the opening of the Gulf and Newfoundland seasons.

Fisheries Work Group Looks at Its Own Process
KMXT by Kayla Desroches – February 13, 2017
The Kodiak Fisheries Work Group took a look at itself in the proverbial mirror last week. For the majority of the two hour meeting, work group members thought about their purpose, their guiding principles, and their future goals.

Labeling and Marketing

Higher value for salmon, halibut, king crab in Alaska despite stronger dollar
Seafood Source by Sierra Golden – February 13, 2017
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute and the McDowell Group, a research and consulting firm in Alaska, recently released market reports suggesting a possible upturn in value for some Alaska seafood despite a strengthening American dollar.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/14/2017
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2017 total allowable catch of pollock for Statistical Area 610 in the GOA.


90 Percent Of Fish We Use For Fishmeal Could Be Used To Feed Humans Instead
NPR by Clare Leschin-Hoar – February 13, 2017
Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about what the farmed seafood we eat might itself be eating. The answer is usually an opaque diet that includes some kind of fishmeal and fish oil. Fishmeal is usually made from ground-up, bony trash fish and forage fish — like anchovy, menhaden or herring — that nobody is clamoring for, anyway.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 15, 2017