Alaska/Pacific Coast

2016 Whiting Biomass at Highest Level Since 1990
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – February 15, 2016
The West Coast whiting or Pacific hake stock is estimated to be near its highest biomass level since 1990, according to a just released preliminary draft annual stock assessment.

The Pacific Whiting Treaty Joint Technical Committee briefed the Joint Management Committee on the preliminary draft last Friday. It will be reviewed at the upcoming meeting of the Scientific Review next week. Changes could be made at that meeting.

The median estimate of 2016 female spawning biomass is 1.8 million tons, mostly from a strong showing in the 2014 year class and a slightly above average estimate of the 2012 year class.

Using the current harvest rule for Pacific hake, this translates to an estimated median catch limit for 2016 of 804,399 metric tons.

However, last year’s total allowable catch (TAC) was set at 440,000 mt and only 47 percent of that was caught in the U.S. In Canada, only 32 percent of the TAC was caught in 2015.

In the U.S., the mothership sector harvested 39 percent of their sector allocation in 2015; catcher-processors, 68 percent; and shoreside, 47 percent. In total, the Pacific whiting fleets harvested 154,099 mt in 2015.

The draft stock assessment provides managers of the stock with confidence intervals for a range of TACs. Although the median TAC may be 804,399 mt for 2016, the full 95% confidence interval ranges from 288,483 mt to 1,852,220 mt.

The U.S. – Canada TAC is set by the Joint Management Committee of the Pacific Hake/Whiting Agreement, then in April the Pacific Fishery Management Council will adjust the U.S. portion for research and bycatch, and split the quota among sectors.

The current preliminary draft assessment estimates a very strong 2010 year class. That cohort accounted for 70% of the coast-wide commercial catch in 2013, 67% of the 2014 catch, and 67% of the 2015 catch.


Agency proposes new program to trace seafood
Bristol Bay Times by Molly Dischner – February 13, 2016
The National Marine Fisheries Service is proposing a new program meant to improve record keeping about seafood imported to the United States.

FDA Earmarks Over $200 Million of its $5.1 Billion 2017 Budget Request for FSMA
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – February 16, 2016
Over $200 million of the FDA’s $5.1 billion fiscal year budget for 2017 will go towards implementing several key initiatives of the Food Safety and Modernization Act.

The FY 2017 request covers the period from Oct. 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2017. The FDA’s $5.1 billion request includes a net increase of $14.6 million in budget authority and $268.7 million in user fees for initiatives tied to several key areas, including FMSA implementation.

“The FDA continues to work to obtain the most public health value for the federal dollar as we address expanded regulatory responsibilities and scientific challenges,” said FDA Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D. “The agency remains fully committed to meeting the needs and high expectations of the American people regarding the products we regulate, as well as advancing the prevention, screening, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer.”

According to the FDA the 2017 FMSA funding will support federal and state efforts to establish enforceable safety standards for produce farms. It will also  enable the FDA to continue progress to hold importers accountable for verifying that imported food meets US safety standards, as well as conduct food safety audits of foreign food facilities.


Devices to keep fish out of N.C. shrimp nets prove surprisingly effective
The Virginian-Pilot by Jeff Hampton – February 15, 2016
WANCHESE, N.C.- Shrimpers and biologists surprised the experts last summer by using modified trawl nets that drastically reduced the amount of popular fish caught and discarded.

Study: Program To Protect Fish Is Saving Fishermen’s Lives, Too
Capital Public Radio by Clare Leschin-Hoar – February 16, 2016
A program used in many U.S. fisheries to protect the marine environment and maintain healthy fish populations may have an immensely important added benefit: preserving the lives of American fishermen.

Labeling and Marketing

3MMI – Small Fish Recurrent Theme for Alaska Pollock; Canadian Snow Crab Prices Peak
TradexFoods –  February 15, 2016
3-Minute Market Insight:
Alaska Pollock has been coming in small across all regions of the North. Historical pricing on the 2-4s show a price dip in the fall as vendors cleared out earlier season’s inventories, with prices trending upwards since December.

Lent Specialties Evolve Beyond the Fish Stick
QSR Magazine by Nicole Duncan – February 11, 2016
For a number of American consumers, fish is the word during the six-week period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Brands specializing in seafood see an uptick in sales while chains ranging from the burger and sandwich to chicken and ethnic categories add a special fish or shrimp item to the menu lineup.


2 Alaska chefs to showcase state’s seafood at prestigious NYC dinner
Alaska Dispatch News by Suzanna Caldwell – February 13, 2016
Two Alaska chefs are headed to New York City to show off their skills at one of the nation’s prestigious culinary institutions.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 16, 2016