Commercial fishing opens Monday morning on the east side of Bristol Bay. Although, it is still early in the season and there are unlikely to be many fish in the water.
Prices are up, but commercial salmon harvests and forecasts are down
KBBI by Aaron Bolton – June 4, 2018
As a number of commercial salmon fisheries around the state kick off this week, the outlook for ex-vessel prices is looking good. Fishing economists say between lower run forecasts and strong foreign and domestic demand, commercial fishermen will likely see higher prices this year. But that doesn’t necessarily mean commercial fishermen will earn more this season compared to last year.
Copper River Salmon Fishery Closes Due to Low Numbers on Sockeye and Kings
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – June 5, 2018
Last Saturday, the Copper River king and sockeye salmon commercial fishery was closed due to alarmingly low catch and escapement levels. The catch, prized by chefs, retailers, and consumers worldwide, was only 26,000 sockeye and 7,000 king salmon, a fraction of what was predicted by May 28, the last fishing day.
Closing the fishery will give king and sockeye salmon unfettered access upriver to their spawning grounds. Less than half of the escapement expected by now has been recorded at the upriver Miles Lake sonar counting station. Cumulative escapement is only 67,000 salmon, compared to the projected 143,000 salmon.
ADF&G’s regional biologist Jeremy Botz said the early run is probably past, but said if the numbers warrant a later opener, he would consider it.
“The sonar counts are coming up now,” Botz said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we show higher numbers from in the coming days.
“The Copper River has so much diversity in its stocks,” Botz said. “We’ve got more than 100 stocks up there, which has contributed to the Copper being so reliable over the years,” Botz said.
If that is changing, processors who have interests in other parts of the state will make out much better than those with less diversification.
“We have a 16-week season, so three or four weeks out of the front end are being eliminated from our season,” noted Marty Weiser, chief development officer for Copper River seafood.
“It’s significant but it’s certainly different from other processors that are locally focused. Copper River is diversified across the state, so from an overall standpoint, is it going to hurt us? I don’t think so. We’ve expanded our operations in Bristol Bay this year,” he said.
‘But right now our tenders are benched,” Weiser said.
“All our fisherman have now moved into Prince William Sound and of course it’s a little early, so there’s some overcrowding in the sound and not much yet in the way of fish. It’s devastating to any processor to have a run failure like this.”
A total of 18,000 sockeyes have been taken at Coghill in Prince William sound so far, and 36,000 chum salmon have been harvested.
Salmon run uncertainty affects more than just the processors. As Weiser noted, “On opening day, we had close to six figure pounds sold, and we only had 2,100 lbs.
“That of course makes the price much higher. Retailers spent a ton of money on promotions, customers were trying to have weddings, etc. and they thought they were serving Copper River sockeye and now they have to switch.
As to figuring out what may have caused the runs to return in such small numbers, Botz would be interested in doing early freshwater stock assessments for outmigrating sockeyes as well as additional research to what might be stressing sockeye in the ocean. “Why are they not getting their forage food?” he asked.
Weiser says he thinks the ocean has a bigger role to play in predicting salmon runs with better accuracy.
“The reasons for the early run failure will consume everyone’s time this winter trying to figure out what’s happening,” said Weiser. “From what I’ve gathered from all the biologists, it’s clearly something going on in our oceans, not not our rivers.”
Fish Factor: Salmon starters and fish prices
Capitol City Weekly by Laine Welch – May 30, 2018
Forces are aligned for a nice pay day for Alaska’s salmon fishermen.
There is no backlog from last season in cold storages, a lower harvest forecast is boosting demand, prices for competing farmed salmon have remained high all year, and a devalued U.S. dollar makes Alaska salmon more appealing to foreign customers.
NOAA Proposes Electronic Monitoring Changes
Fishermen’s News by Tom Ewing – June 1, 2018
In February, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a notice that the Agencies were reopening the public comment period on a topic first announced in December 2017.
China to Cut Import Tariffs on More Than 200 Seafood Products on July 1, 2018
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – June 1, 2018
China will cut tariffs for more than 200 seafood imports as part of a move to lower tariffs for nearly 1,500 consumer goods, effective July 1, the Chinese Ministry for Finance announced last night.
On average, tariffs for all goods on the list were cut by 56 percent, according to the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council.
Tariff rates on major seafood imports, such as frozen pollock, cod fillets, sockeye salmon, and halibut, will drop from 10% to 7%. Frozen mussels, scallops and oysters will be 10% rather than 14%. Fresh or chilled crab will be cut from 14% to 7% and fresh scallops, as an example, from 14% to 10%.
“Significantly reducing the import tariffs for daily consumer goods is conducive to expanding China’s opening-up and serves as a major measure and action of the country’s initiative to open its market,” the Ministry’s statement quoted an unnamed official of the commission as saying.
The average tariff rate for cultured and fished aquatic products and processed food such as mineral water will be cut from 15.2 percent to 6.9 percent, according to a statement released after the meeting.
The announcement came less than 48 hours before U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross lands in Beijing for “wide-ranging talks aimed at addressing American frustrations with China’s $375 billion bilateral trade surplus with the United States,” according to a May 31 report in the New York Times.
Ross will be in China from June 2 to June 4, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Last Tuesday, President Trump threatened further tariffs on Chinese goods, noting that China’s average tariff on imports was more than three times as high as US tariffs and nearly double that of the European Union. Ross announced that the US would begin imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union at midnight on Thursday.
New York Times reporter Keith Bradsher noted that by cutting tariffs in more than 1,000 lightly traded categories, China could end up reducing its average tariff considerably without actually running the risk of a big surge in imports.
“The goods seeing cuts are not relevant to trade with the U.S.,” Derek Scissors, a trade specialist at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank told Bradsher. “For China, it fits the goal of moving up the value chain — heavy subsidies for semiconductors and now less protection for textiles and consumer appliances.”
Fisheries Off West Coast States; Modifications of the West Coast Commercial and Recreational Salmon Fisheries; Inseason Action #1
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/04/2018
NMFS announces one inseason action in the ocean salmon fisheries. This inseason action modified the commercial and recreational salmon fisheries in the area from Cape Falcon, OR, to Pigeon Point, CA.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/04/2018
NMFS has requested the Center for Independent Experts (CIE) to conduct a peer review of the agency’s stock assessments for the Aleutian Islands golden king crab (AIGKC) and Norton Sound red king crab (NSRKC) stocks. The CIE is a group affiliated with the University of Miami that provides independent peer reviews of NMFS science nationwide, including reviews of stock assessments for fish, shellfish and marine mammals. The AIGKC and NSRKC stock assessments are reviewed annually by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) Crab Plan Team, and the NPFMC Scientific and Statistical Committee.
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