Alaska/Pacific Coast

The Alaska Seafood Brand Takes Top Ranking Among Restaurant Menus in Nation
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – February 22, 2016
For the first time, the Alaska seafood brand takes top billing among brands featured on menus across the nation, according to new research commissioned by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI).

“We do research every couple of years to look at brands that are featured on restaurant menus,” said Claudia Hogue, foodservice director for ASMI.
“We use by Datassentials, a market research firm based in Chicago. They have one of, if not the largest data base of menus in the country.

“Datassentials looks at penetration, a number that shows the percentage of menus featuring different brands. For the first time, ‘Alaska seafood’ ranks highest among all other proteins,” Hogue said.

“Alaska seafood” appears on 3.4 percent of all menus, compared to “certified Angus” with 3.1 percent and “Norwegian” at 1.9%, ranking top not just among protein brands but many other food category brands, including Hershey’s, Kahlua, Tabasco, and Grand Marnier.

“This is really due to a number of efforts,” said Hogue. “It’s years of work by our processors who are developing more products that are value added for foodservice and ASMI’s efforts behind getting the brand on menus. And something that is really important is consumers changing behaviors and wanting to eat healthier.”

ASMI will have additional research from the menu study available in early March.

“According to the research that will be coming out in a couple weeks, we know consumers are trying to eat healthier by the choices they’re making at the restaurant,” Hogue added.


Japan offers more funds for shoreline cleanup
2016 focus will be on Central Gulf of Alaska
Cordova Times – February 19, 2016
Recent funding of $950,000 from the government of Japan will be added to federal funds to continue shoreline cleanup in the Gulf of Alaska from the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011.

A bright idea: using light to help reduce overfishing – February 22, 2016
Nick Glass meets the inventor of a system that uses light to help make trawling nets more selective.

Fisheries scientists plan for a changing Bering Sea
Bristol Bay Times by Molly Dischner – February 21, 2016
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council heard a draft plan for addressing climate change in the eastern Bering Sea earlier this month.

NOAA publishes Technical Memorandum of Bering Sea Canyons Survey Results with Hundreds of Photos
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – February 23, 2016
NOAA has published a technical memorandum (link here) with the detailed results of the 2014 underwater camera survey of the Eastern Bering Sea slope.  This was the first comprehensive survey of coral and sponge on the Bering Sea Slope conducted by NMFS.  250 transects were successfully completed during the survey, which extended from Bering Canyon to Pervenets Canyon close to the Russian boundary.

The paper includes photos and analysis of each transect, along with maps and a species inventory and abundance calculation.

Thirty-six different fish and crab species or taxonomic groupings are presented in the report. These were dominated by eelpouts (Zoarcidae) and Chionoecetes crabs. However, grenadiers (Macrouridae) and rockfishes (Sebastes sp., especially Pacific ocean perch, S. alutus) were also common. Most of the species that were found in high abundance tended to be small benthic dwelling fishes such as eelpouts, snailfishes (Liparidae), sculpins (Cottidae, Hemitripteridae, Psychrolutidae), and poachers (Agonidae).

Vertical habitat consisted of over 70,000 structure-forming invertebrates. These were comprised of about 53% Demospongiae and 38% sea whips. Only 2% (< 1,500 individuals) of the total invertebrates observed were corals.

Corals occurred on 32 of the 250 survey transects. They were identified into five taxonomic groups, including three families (Primnoidae, Plexauridae, and Isididae), and two genera (Plumarella sp and Swiftia sp.). The most common corals were Plumarella sp and Swiftia sp. The median depth at which coral occurred was 451 m (range = 201 – 770 m), much deeper than the median depth of samples (276 m). Corals occurred at 50% of the survey transects in Pribilof Canyon and about 18% of the transects in the area between Pribilof and Zhemchug Canyons. Corals were present at one transect on the Outer Shelf and one transect in Zhemchug Canyon.

Sponges were relatively more abundant. Sponges occurred on 113 of the 250 survey transects. They were identified into three classes: Hexactinellida, Demospongiae, and Calcarea. The median depth at which sponges occurred was 311 m, and they covered almost the entire depth range of sampling from 111 m to 781 m. Sponges were widely distributed and occurred in all of the sampled regions.

Sea whips (Pennatulacea) were also widely distributed both in terms of depth and region.

Evidence of fishing was identified in 32 transects. Trawl gear, longline gear, and trawl tracks were recorded.  Overall 19 sites had observable trawl tracks, and 10 sites had evidence of longline or crab gear.  No damaged corals were observed at any of these sites.

Damaged sea whips were observed at 7 sites, representing about 2% of sea whips observed at those sites, with 98% undamaged.

The survey was a remarkable undertaking which provided a clear picture of the substrates and the distribution of sponges, corals and sea whips in the Bering Sea Canyons and the adjacent shelf.  The science definitively showed that corals were quite rare in these areas, and that concentrations of coral that needed protection from potentially damaging activities did not exist.

Greenpeace has referred to the canyons which concentrate upwelling in the Bering Sea as a ‘Green Belt’ driving the productivity of one of the planet’s greatest ocean ecosystems.  They are right in this.  But that does not mean that corals in this area need protections.  It is a ‘solution’ in search of a problem, and the scientific survey definitively showed that a problem did not exist.

In this case, Greenpeace used a submersible for a small number of dives, and brought back pictures of coral.  On that basis they claimed the council should protect the Canyons from commercial fishing and mounted a major public relations campaign and aggressively signed on retailers, all to solve a non-existent problem.

In this case, there was money and political will to do the hard work of establishing the facts.  Unfortunately that is not the case with every claim, and this exercise will have long term value if the entire fisheries management and sustainability community – including the retailers and Greenpeace – agree that management problems and solutions need to be backed by science, and absent that foundation, no real solutions are possible.

Labeling and Marketing

UAF researchers aim to bring local fish into the cafeteria, classroom
News Miner by Weston Morrow – February 23, 2016
FAIRBANKS — The importance of salmon to Alaska’s communities is hard to overstate, but a group of researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks hopes to find out if the fish might have a positive impact in schools, as well.


Deckhand Seafoods’ smoked herring takes first in foodservice at Symphony of Seafood
KDLG by Hannah Colton & Molly Dischner – February 22, 2016
Bristol Bay herring won a top distinction at the Alaska Symphony of Seafood gala in Anchorage this weekend.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 23, 2016