Alaska/Pacific Coast
Seafood processors continue to grapple with H-2B visa shortage

As Bristol Bay’s 2018 salmon season continues, seafood processors are grappling with a problem that has loomed large over the industry the past few years – an increasing demand for H-2B visas to fill processor jobs.
KDLG by Isabelle Ross – July 10, 2018
On June 30, U.S. Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta and the Alaskan Congressional delegation traveled to King Salmon to meet with seafood processors and transportation companies from Bristol Bay and around the state.
http://kdlg.org/post/seafood-processors-continue-grapple-h-2b-visa-shortage

16% Of Pollock Quota Harvested After First Month Of ‘B’ Season
KUCB by Laura Kraegel – July 11, 2018
A month into pollock “B” season, fishermen have caught about 16 percent of the quota.
That’s a bit of a slow start, according to Krista Milani of the National Marine Fisheries Service. At this time last year, the fleet had taken about 22 percent of the total harvest.
http://kucb.org/post/16-pollock-quota-harvested-after-first-month-b-season

Alaska Board of Fisheries Holds Emergency Meeting on Hatchery Issues
Fishermen’s News – July 11, 2018
Alaska’s Board of Fishery will meet for several hours in Anchorage, Alaska, on the afternoon of July 17 to take up emergency petitions, including one regarding additional hatchery production in Prince William Sound.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2018/07/alaska-board-of-fisheries-holds.html

Dungeness Season in Southeast Alaska Starts with a Bang: 3rd Highest First Week on Record
SEAFOODNEWS by John Sackton – July 10, 2018
The Dungeness Season appears to be going well in Southeast Alaska this year.

During the first week, which started June 15th, harvesters brought in more than 871,000 lbs. of crab.

ADF&G does not have a preseason estimate on Dungeness, but uses the first week as a guide to determine what the allowable catch will be for the season.

The catch this year was the third highest on record for the opening week.  The ADF&G announced that harvesters will have a full two month season, through August 15th, and that the total expected catch would be 3.7 million lbs.

By contrast, the 2017 estimate for the in-season harvest was only 1.6 million lbs, which triggered a shorter season.

ADF&G does not conduct a stock assessment on Dungeness, so the catch during the first week is a proxy of the overall size of the resource.

Tess Bergmann, with ADF&G, told KFSK that “What we do know is that fisherman are seeing good numbers of legal crab and good numbers of pre-recruits in females, and port samplers’ dockside interviews are quantifying legal-sized light crab that aren’t being brought in for sale.”

Fishermen in this area are plagued by sea otters, and last January they asked the Board of Fish to consider setting a permanent season to allow them to plan better harvest strategies.  That move was defeated by a 6-1 vote.

The average dockside price for the first week was $3.04, said Bergmann.
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1109396/Dungeness-Season-in-Southeast-Alaska-Starts-with-a-Bang-3rd-Highest-First-Week-on-Record

UW Take on Bristol Bay Season: Final Catch Could Fall Just Short of Their 33.5 Million Forecast
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – July 12, 2018
The cumulative catch in Bristol Bay is 21 million sockeye and an escapement of another 9 million up the five river systems as of July 10. The Port Moller Test Fishery ended July 11 with daily catches winding down in most stations, but still showing strong numbers in Stations 10 and beyond which are traditionally affiliated with the Wood River and, to a lesser extent, the Egegik and Naknek-Kvichak Districts.

Each year Bristol Bay has two highly-regarded prognosticators issue pre-season forecasts for the total run and the catch. One is from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which this year predicted a total run of 49.8 million sockeyes and a catch of 37.6 million.

The University of Washington’s Salmon Project, run by Dr. Ray Hilborn with Dr. Curry Cunningham and project manager Chris Boatwright, produced a different pre-season forecast calling for a total run of 47.6 million sockeye, with a predicted catch of 33.5 million.

As the season progresses, and more data from the Port Moller Test Fishery catches, the age-specific catch-per-unit-effort prediction, and the actual catches and escapement from the fishing grounds and upriver counts are gathered, both pre-season forecasts get revised and sharpened to in-season predictions.

It’s a step-wise process, with fishery statisticians relying on mostly the forecasts early in the season, then adding in the genetic data as the early fish are caught in the test fishery, then — on or about July 10 this year — relying more on the catch and escapement happening on the grounds.

Cunningham, who holds a PhD in quantitative ecology and, as a NOAA scientist, works on the UW’s Salmon Program, interprets the numbers this year to mean that the total run will be just shy of the UW’s pre-season forecast of 47.6 million.

Cunningham, who has also fished the Bay before his role as a quantitative scientist, thinks the record-breaking higher return in the western district of the Bay, specifically the Nushagak District, isn’t enough to compensate for the low showing in the eastern river districts, specifically Ugashik, Naknek-Kvichak, and Egegik.

Part of the problem, Cunningham says, is that the 2.2- and 2.3-year sockeye were “missing from the Port Moller Test Fishery catches.” Those year-classes are sockeye that spent two years in fresh water and then another two and three years respectively in salt water before returning to the bay to spawn.

“Thirty percent of the Egegik River run is 2.2 year fish,” Cunningham said. “And another 30% is 2.3s. So that component of the return is largely missing from this year’s run.”

The last of the ‘surge’ — lower than peak but still strong numbers caught in PMTF in Stations 10 and 16 — would be reaching the fishing grounds early to mid-next week. Catch and escapement in the Nushagak District, although still higher than expected for this week, are decreasing slightly every day.

If Cunningham is right, the peak of the run has passed and the remaining return will not quite reach either pre-season forecast. But at the moment in the Nushagak District where about 75 percent of the Bristol Bay fleet is still fishing, how big and how long the season’s tail will be is still a matter of debate.
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1109709/UW-Take-on-Bristol-Bay-Season-Final-Catch-Could-Fall-Just-Short-of-Their-33-point-5-Million-Forecast

Politics

Working out details on salmon disaster funds
Shoreside infrastructure is a potential recipient category
Cordova Times by Rep. Louise Stutes – July 6, 2018
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I wanted to provide you with a short update regarding the 2016 pink salmon disaster relief funding distribution.
https://www.thecordovatimes.com/2018/07/06/working-out-details-on-salmon-disaster-funds/

International

Trump Threatens $275 Million Tax on US Sfd Consumers With $2.75 Billion Tariffs on Chinese Seafood
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Analysis] by John Sackton – July 12, 2018
Get ready for a big seafood tax.  This is going to be the result of President Trump’s unilateral attack on Chinese imports, as applied to the Seafood Industry.

Overall, Trump is escalating his trade war by targeting $200 million worth of Chinese Exports to the US.  The target includes all Chinese seafood products exported here, including reprocessed products.  The full list was released by the US Trade Representative.  Unless there is a dramatic intervention by Congress to take back this trade authority, new tariffs will likely be imposed within two months.

The total value of US Imports of Chinese Seafood is $2.75 billion.  An across the board 10% tariff is the equivalent of a $275 million dollar tax on Americans.

Overall, the US imports nearly $18 billion worth of seafood each year.  China accounts for 15.4% of all US seafood imports.

But within individual seafood categories, the portion of Chinese imports is much higher.

Frozen Tilapia, the largest Chinese Import, represents 80% of all US frozen tilapia.  Retailers will see an immediate unwelcome jump in tilapia prices if the tariffs are imposed.

Frozen cod fillets mostly come from China.  70% of US imports of frozen cod will be hit.  Haddock will be hit also.  64% of US haddock fillets are processed in China.

Pink salmon is another major Chinese export to the US, often including US caught fish that is processed in China.  Pink salmon is used in lower cost salmon items like burgers and formed fillets.  China imports represent 23% of all frozen salmon fillets.

The list goes on.

China represents 47% of US breaded shrimp imports.

They represent 37% of frozen squid imports; and 92% of dried squid imports.  Also 92% of Crawfish imports.  Tail meat will be going up in price, likely to the delight of Louisiana producers, but to the detriment of Louisiana restaurants.  Diners will be paying the crawfish tax.

Frozen scallops will also be affected. China supplies 20% of the US frozen scallop market.

These just are some of the top species by value.

Down the list which encompasses 291 different seafood products, are smaller volume items like salmon fillet blocks, twice frozen pollock blocks, and cod blocks, all of which are not in the top tier for imports, but where China produces a substantial percentage of what is used.

No one in the seafood industry deserves an involuntary sudden price increase.  Yet this is exactly the impact of these tariffs.

The negative economic effects will go far beyond the $275 million which is a direct consumer tax.  As sellers are forced to raise prices, competitive products not from China will follow suit, so the tariffs will trigger across the board price increases for a range of items.

Price increases generally discourage consumption, so at the same time that sellers are paying the tax, they are losing business as well because their customers are backing away.

Unfortunately, it will be months before we see the actual impacts, and by then the trade barriers will likely be locked in place, so there is little recourse.

The seafood industry is not the only industry impacted, obviously.  Trump may be aiming at China, but he has shot his own side.  Who will take the gun from his hands?
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1109646/Trump-Threatens-275-Million-Tax-on-US-Sfd-Consumers-With-2-point-75-Billion-Tariffs-on-Chinese-Seafood

Opinion

Opinion: Partisanship shouldn’t undermine our fisheries
Newsminer by Rep. Don Young – July 10, 2018
Community Perspective
FAIRBANKS — Partisan rancor may be standard operating procedure for most of Washington, but let’s not allow it to unravel the progress we’ve made for our country’s vital fisheries. As my colleagues and my state know, I’ve been on the frontlines for the fight for our fisheries for over 40 years — and I have no intentions of letting up. After creating an initial framework, former Rep. Studds and I collaborated with former Senators Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Warren Magnuson (D-WA) to enact the original Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) in 1976.
http://www.newsminer.com/opinion/community_perspectives/partisanship-shouldn-t-undermine-our-fisheries/article_df6fb390-8417-11e8-9232-4b02813f2d49.html

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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July 12, 2018