Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT – February 4, 2016
Coming up this week, the IPHC boosts coast-wide halibut catch limits, trawlers agree to a Gulf-wide stand down to address the North Pacific Council, and there’ll be no enrichment for Karluk Lake. And is the second time the charm for a Board of Fish candidate from the Kenai? All that and we say goodbye to one of the founders of Trident Seafoods, coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KFSK’s Joe Viechnicki in Petersburg and KDLG’s Molly Dischner in Dillingham.

Global Seas Refits Pelagic Vessel for Pollock with Quality Focus
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Undercurrent News] by Tom Seaman – February 5, 2016
US vessel management company Global Seas is re-fitting a former East Coast pelagic vessel for harvesting Alaska pollock, with a focus on quality and efficiency.

Seattle, Washington-based Global Seas, which operates four vessels in the inshore pollock fishery, will be able to pump fish from the net with the latest addition to its fleet, rather than hauling onboard over the stern, said Robert Desautel, co-founder and CEO.

“We are hoping that this provides the best quality fish out there and sets a new standard of product for the in-shore fleet,” he told Undercurrent News.

“She will be more efficient and land a better quality of fish. We will be able to turn and burn faster, catch faster, get back to fishing faster, it all comes down to fuel usage, pennies per pound,” said Desautel.

The 170-foot Defender, which will replace a vessel of the same name in the Global Seas fleet, should be fishing in B season, Desautel said.

“The investment was substantial. For a new boat of this size, it would be $35-$40 million. We will be less than that,” he said, declining to give an exact figure.

Defender, which was formerly named Western Venture and operated from the Massachusetts port of New Bedford, will be launched on Feb. 6 at the Patti Marine Enterprises shipyard in Pensacola, Florida.

Among the improvements done by Patti Marine are a stern extension; a new full raised shelter deck for the fish processing area with new distribution equipment; a new whaleback deck on the bow; and a new crane.

In addition, all of the deck and fishing gear has been relocated to the stern. Additionally, the interior accommodations, mechanical systems and sound dampening components all received substantial upgrades. The wheelhouse was completely modernized and a slate of the newest electronics was added.

The vessel will “meet or exceed” the requirements of the US Coast Guard alternate safety compliance program that will be implemented by 2020, he said.

In addition to fishing vessels, Global Seas also operates research ships, so is better placed to deal with the new and more stringent Coast Guard regulations, said Desautel.

Research vessels are already inspected, whereas fishing vessels are currently not, he said.

Global Seas was considering building a new vessel to replace the current Defender, a 195ft vessel operated by the company since 2009.

Then, Desautel said the manager of Northern Pelagic Company (Norpel), a plant in New Bedford that Global Seas is involved in, mentioned Western Venture. The vessel had been landing in the plant and its owner looking to sell.

“The Norpel manger said it is the best quality fish that ever came into the plant,” he told Undercurrent.

This was due to the fact the vessel was handling the fish “European-style, with a very large pump, rather than a cod end, which is bringing up in big volumes and squishing it [the fish] down”, said Desautel.

“I kept coming back to the idea of vessels in Europe and Norway; they have been pumping fish for some time. They are always 20 years ahead of us on quality issues,” he said.

There are other European elements to her design, he said. “If you look at the west coast design, the fish holds have been from side to side. But, the Europeans figured it out make the holds more longitudinal, so they are not as wide.”

This means, when the boat is rolling on the seas, you don’t have that rolling of fish, which gives higher quality, he said.

Global Seas will then apply this approach to pollock, delivering fish to factories such as Nipon Suisan Kaisha-owned Unisea and Maruha Nichiro’s Westward Seafoods, for processing into pin-bone out (PBO) blocks and other finished products.

There is only one other vessel in Alaska, Westward Fishing Company’s Chelsea K, using this method for pollock.

Global Seas will use a much larger pump, however.

“It will be able to move about 700 metric tons an hour. But, we don’t want to be operating at that level; we want to crank it down to give the best quality fish. What we are looking for is a very gradual pump into the distribution center,” he said. “Then the fish will go down into the longitudinal tanks, which means they are not rolling around.”

Western Venture needed a lot of work, he said. But, in addition to the high quality fish she was known for landing, she was relatively new, having been built in 2006, and had some other strong attributes.

“So, we took a look at it. We decided it needed a lot of work, but the hull, hydraulics, refrigeration and propulsion were all good. From that, you can build on,” he said.

She is 170ft x 40ft x18ft, with “3000 plus horsepower”, he said. “Capacity wise, she can hold 1,000t of fish.”

Fleet renewal done, for now

Once Defender is in operation, Global Seas will have modernized its fleet completely.

In 2012, Bering Defender (pictured), another vessel in the company’s fleet, was re-fitted at the Patti Marine yard.

“All of our boats will meet the [Coast Guard] alternative compliance regulation by 2020,” he said. That is, “unless we go out and buy more boats, of course”, said Desautel.Bering Defender Global Seas

Last year, the company bought pollock vessel Gun Mar, with a “substantial” amount of quota, he said, declining to reveal the actual amount. Gun Mar has been renamed Alaskan Defender.

Some re-fit work may be done on this vessel. Also, if the approach of pumping pollock onboard from the net works well, Global Seas may look at rolling this out on its other catchers, he said. “It depends on how it goes.”

Investing for future

Times may be tough in the pollock sector, with low prices for PBO blocks and roe, but Global Seas is looking beyond this.

“We are making a long-term play.Does it make financial sense today? No. But, boats are getting costlier by the year. So, we are getting into it now,” he said.

“The fuel has gone down in price, so that is helping things somewhat. But, we look at this as a long-term investment,” he told Undercurrent.

“This happens in every fishery, prices go so high, and then the bottom falls out. The same happened to surimi few years ago,” he said. “You have to take a long term view in this industry.”

The company is always looking for openings to grow, he said. “We know the pollock fishery in Alaska well, so we keep investing back into that.”

Collapse of Pollock Prices in China one Reason for Price Stand-off in Gulf of Alaska
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton – February 5, 2016
Part of the stand down in the Gulf of Alaska has been due to trawlers being unhappy with pollock delivery prices this year.

At the start of the A season, processors were offering 8 cents per lb., compared to 12 to 15 cents which is more typical of the past few years.

In fact, Bering Sea pollock catchers are still getting 12 to 14 cents, so we wondered what was different about the Gulf fishery to put so much downward price pressure.

It seems like it is the collapse of the price of pollock in China may be one thing driving the market down.  Pollock prices (H&G shipped to China for further processing) have a seasonal peak in November and then decline.  This year, the seasonal peak was around $1550 per metric ton, for Russian H&G pollock.  In Janaury, that had fallen to $1150 per ton, the lowest price since 2005.

A significant portion of the Gulf fishery is shipped as H&G fish to China.

The graph below shows the comparison of pollock product forms in the Gulf vs. the Bering Sea.

Both areas produce around the same proportion of fillets and surimi, but the Gulf also produces H&G collar on and whole fish, neither of which is produced in the Bering Sea.

As a result, Gulf processors are more vulnerable to the world market pressure pushing prices down for H&G pollock.



Walker announces five fish, game board appointments
Cordova Times – February 4, 2016
Gov. Bill Walker has announced three appointments to the Alaska Board of Fisheries and two to the Alaska Board of Game, all of which are subject to confirmation by the Alaska Legislature.


Feds announce tracking requirements for seafood imports
The National Marine Fisheries Service is hoping a new tracking program for seafood imports will help combat illegal fishing and fraud for 13 fish.
KDLG by Molly Dischner – February, 5, 2016
The National Marine Fisheries Service today announced that it is implementing a new tracking program for seafood imports, meant to help combat illegal fishing and seafood fraud. Importers will have to track where fish was caught, the type of gear that was used and where it was landed. Director of the Office of International Affairs and Seafood Inspections John Henderschedt said the federal government wants a better record of who is catching seafood and where it’s landed before it shows up in U.S. stores.

Labeling and Marketing

Whiting Fisheries Had a Rough Year
TradexSeafood – February  4, 2016
As discussions begin for 2016 US/Canadian whiting quotas, all three West Coast Pacific whiting sectors — mothership, catcher-processor and shoreside — had a difficult season in 2015, on both the harvesting and marketing fronts.

GE salmon await labeling guidelines
AquaBounty sales in any event are still more than a year away from markets
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – February 4, 2016
Genetically engineered salmon, approved by federal regulators just months ago, are off the table for now in interstate commerce.

Federal Register

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act; Seafood Import Monitoring Program
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/05/2016
Pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), this proposed rule would establish filing and recordkeeping procedures relating to the importation of certain fish and fish products, in order to implement the MSA’s prohibition on the import and trade, in interstate or foreign commerce, of fish taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any foreign law or regulation.


Waste not, want broth: Alaska businesses aim to turn fish bones into trendy broth
Alaska Dispatch News by Suzanna Caldwell – February 2, 2016
Hipsters and Paleo diet enthusiasts around the country are embracing bone broth, drinking it up like coffee and hoping it might cure whatever ails them.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 5, 2016