Alaska/Pacific Coast

Russia Expects 450,000 Tons of Pacific Salmon, up 30% from 2014, in Strong Year for Pinks
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Seafoodnews] – February 24, 2015
At a speech to a fisheries conference in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia’s fishery head Ilya Shestakov said he expects total pacific salmon production to reach 430,000 tons this year.

This includes pink, chum, and sockeye salmon.

This would mean a 30% increase over 2014, which was a weak year for pink salmon.  Last year total production was 335,000 tons.

Compared to the last odd year for pink salmon, which was 2013, the prediction is for an increase of 10%.  That year saw total Russian production of 390,000 tons.

Alaska will also see strong pink salmon runs.  IN the Southeast, which is the only area for which a preseason forecast has already been issued, ADF&G expects a run of 59 million fish, with a range of 39 to 79 million.  This is in the higher end of the historic runs.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/965402/Russia-Expects-450000-Tons-of-Pacific-Salmon-up-30-percent-from-2014-in-Strong-Year-for-Pinks

VIDEO: Alaska Salmon Success is Grounded in Collaboration
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] – February 23, 2015
In the second part of a video series about Alaska’s state-run fishery management program, produced by Abundant Oceans’ Steven Minor, the history of managing salmon escapement to rebuild the run is addressed.

Alaska’s former “Fish Czar” Clem Tillion; Don Giles, Icicle’s former President and CEO; and John Garner, COO of North Pacific Seafoods talk about the first Commissioner of the state’s Fish and Game Department, Clarence “Andy” Anderson, and his charge to fix Alaska’s salmon fishery.

Anderson is credited with helping steer the fishing community to cooperate in harvesting salmon with escapement as the chief priority.
Click here to get to the Seafood.com News Youtube channel to see Part 1 of Abundant Oceans’ video series, along with more industry commentary, market and news updates.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/965260/VIDEO-Alaska-Salmon-Success-is-Grounded-in-Collaboration

West Coast Ports Face Several Months’ Backlog
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Dow Jones & Company, Inc] By Laura Stevens – February 23, 2015
West Coast ports are finally working at full speed again—for the most part— but it will likely take months for the backlog to clear, port officials and logistics experts said.

Full operations resumed at West Coast ports Saturday evening, after the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers, came to a tentative agreement on a new five-year labor contract late Friday. The contract still must be ratified by members.

Not everything went smoothly. Workers at the Port of Oakland on Sunday took their breaks together, and employers dismissed them, according to a PMA spokesman. An arbitrator ruled that the union’s action was an illegal work stoppage, and employers ordered new crews for the night shift. A union spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Sunday morning, the number of ships at anchor waiting to get into the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had increased to 31 from 27 Friday. Another couple dozen ships were either nearby or on their way to the ports.

“Just based on the mathematics, it will be about three months before we return to a sense of normalcy,” said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.
In 2002, a 10-day lockout involving the same groups cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion a day, and it took two to three months to return to normal. This time, while the labor dispute never resulted in total port shutdown like a lockout, the slowdowns were spread out over a longer period. They began roughly in November as the union stopped sending enough workers and increased in January and February as employers cut evening and weekend shifts.

Port and logistics experts estimated it could take anywhere from about two to six months to get the U.S. supply chain—which makes sure T-shirts end up on shelves and auto parts are available for manufacturing—back on track.

Port problems have been causing widespread pain for shippers, retailers, meat and poultry companies and manufacturers across the country. Farmers couldn’t get produce to Asia, leaving some fruit rotting in containers, and some auto manufacturers were forced to fly in parts to keep plants running. Small-business owners with limited inventory to cover sales faced shortages, while some apparel companies feared they wouldn’t get products in time for spring delivery.

Farmers producing crops including oranges, potatoes, Christmas trees and soybeans have all been hard hit, as cargo arrived spoiled in Asia or couldn’t get there at all, said Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition. U.S. farmers are already competing with similar crops being grown around the world as the dollar strengthens, and the slowdown has been a tough blow, he said.

Farmers may have a hard time winning back customers lost over the past couple months, he said, adding, “People who are sourcing these products can’t afford a lack of dependability.”

A number of industry groups—including the National Retail Federation, the American Apparel & Footwear Association and the Agriculture Transportation Coalition—called for a quick ratification of the agreement, while cautioning that this type of disruption can’t be allowed to happen again.

Nearly 50% of all clothing and shoes are imported to the U.S. via the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the American Apparel & Footwear Association said. “This dispute has left a damaging effect on our industry—causing extreme delays and millions in lost sales,” the association added. “If our ports aren’t open, we can’t trade. The serious and negative impacts this dispute left on the economy demonstrates why we cannot let this happen again.”

Jason Carr, the president of Softline Home Fashions, said he will still have to fly curtains and other goods in from Asia in some cases to fill time-sensitive orders. “Although there will still be a backlog of containers to clear over the next several weeks, we are pleased this issue has been resolved,” Mr. Carr said.

Chad Kushner, the co-chief executive of Linus Bike, had been diverting goods to the East Coast and then trucking them across the country at a cost that was more than double what he paid to distribute goods coming into the West Coast. Now, he says he plans to ship more goods directly to the Los Angeles port. “This will help to recoup some of the additional costs we had spent on diverting shipments to the East Coast and hopefully bring our margins closer to normal.

While details of the tentative contract weren’t released, it included a new arbitration system, as well as new pay, health-care and pension agreements. While the ILWU and PMA had reached earlier understandings on both health care and the maintenance of chassis, which are used to haul containers, negotiations in recent weeks had come to a standstill due to a disagreement regarding the system of arbitration used to settle disputes between the union and employers.

Last week, the White House sent Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to join the negotiations. He urged both parties to come to an agreement, and set a deadline of Friday evening, after which the parties would have been invited to the White House.

Even after things return to normal, it is unclear how much structural problems at the ports—which were already causing congestion—will continue to contribute.

Since 2002, the ports have essentially doubled their capacity, said Jannine Miller, a former supply-chain executive at  Home Depot  and current director of Georgia’s Center of Innovation for Logistics. “What they have working against them is just an overall, much greater flow of product than they did last time,” she said.

As of Saturday, the union allowed all crane operators to return to work at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The union had stopped sending yard crane operators without the proper certification to work in November, citing the need for training. That was addressed in the new contract, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

“Both sides have turned the fire hose on full blast,” said Jon Slangerup, chief executive of the Port of Long Beach. He said that a couple thousand union employees turned up at the union hall for assignments Saturday afternoon. If that trend continues and the employers keep ordering lots of workers, “we’re going to move quickly,” he said.

Unfortunately, that is unlikely to be fast enough for Jim Ralles, who imports grain bags and other harvest equipment for West Coast farmers. He currently has 28 containers full of supplies at sea, and they might not make it in time for the harvest.

He says this can’t be allowed to happen again in five years at the expiration of the next contract. “It should never be this way. It has to change. Otherwise, in five years they’ll be doing the same thing,” Mr. Ralles added.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/965214/West-Coast-Ports-Face-Several-Months-Backlog

Environment/Science

SE kings head north in search of cooler waters
KCAW by Robert Woolsey – February 23, 2015
Some king salmon reared in Southeast Alaska are traveling farther north as ocean temperatures rise.
http://www.kcaw.org/2015/02/23/se-kings-head-north-in-search-of-cooler-waters/

Ocean acidification threatens shellfish industry in 15 states
FIS.COM – February 24, 2015
Coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the USD1 billion shelled mollusk industry (primarily oysters and clams) are at long-term economic risk from the increasing threat of ocean acidification, a new report concludes.
http://fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&country=0&special=&monthyear=&day=&id=74818&ndb=1&df=0

Labeling and Marketing

3MMI – Sockeye Market Set to Get Even Crazier; Are you Ready for the Lenten Season?
TradexFoods – Feb 23, 2015

3-Minute Market Insight:
➥ If Sockeye inventories remain, high retailers will have to run promotions to clear out product, causing more price pressure. Clearly it’s a buyers’ market for 2015!
➥ Lent is a good opportunity for Food Service operators to offer Seafood Opportunities and new items during a period where consumers choose fish as a regular meal instead of just on special occasions.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnHbCqMyJQI&feature=youtu.be

Federal Register

North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/24/2015
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Ecosystem Committee will meet in Seattle, WA.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/02/24/2015-03716/north-pacific-fishery-management-council-public-meeting?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

FYI’s

Alaska’s Minimum Wage Rising to $8.75
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Alaska Dispatch News] By Tegan Hanlon – February 24, 2015
Alaska’s minimum wage will rise Tuesday to $8.75, a $1-per-hour increase that will affect thousands of workers’ paychecks, according to the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

In November, nearly 70 percent of Alaska voters said yes to the ballot measure that increased the minimum wage. In line with Alaska’s Constitution, the new law was set to take effect 90 days after the certification of election results, marking Tuesday as the day.

Fewer than 1 percent of Alaska’s jobs paid the $7.75-per-hour minimum wage, according to Dan Robinson, chief of research and analysis at the state’s Department of Labor. Most of the roughly 3,000 positions were in the seafood processing and restaurant industries, he said.

Under the new law, Alaska’s minimum wage will increase another dollar to $9.75 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016, and adjust with inflation in the years following. The law requires the Alaska minimum wage to remain at least $1 above federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25.

Robinson said Monday that about 16,000, or 5 percent, of Alaska’s jobs paid $8.75 per hour or less. About 28,000, or 9 percent, paid $9.75 or less.

While the change in minimum wage applies to most employees, the law establishes a list of those exempt, which includes people employed in agriculture and who provide emergency medical services on a voluntary basis, as well as people under age 18 employed for no more than 30 hours per week.

Tips still do not count toward the minimum wage. Public school bus drivers must not earn less than twice the minimum wage, according to the Department of Labor.

Alaska, along with 28 states and Washington, D.C., have minimum wage rates above the federal level, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/965373/Alaskas-Minimum-Wage-Rising-to-8-point-75

 

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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February 24, 2015