Alaska/Pacific Coast

Fish and Game gets $48 million boost to its budget
Alaska Dispatch News by Mike Campbell – March 15, 2016
Excise taxes paid by hunters, trappers, fishermen and boaters nationwide add up to a $48 million boost to the budget of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced.
http://www.adn.com/article/20160315/fish-and-game-gets-48-million-boost-its-budget

Drastic year could lead to ban on coastal salmon fishing
Herald by Jerry Cornfield – March 15, 2016
OLYMPIA — State, federal and tribal officials may bar salmon fishing off Washington’s coast this year in anticipation of another bad year of returning coho salmon.
Closing recreational and commercial fishing for chinook and coho salmon in ocean waters is the most drastic of three options approved Sunday for public review in advance of an April decision by the Pacific Fishery Management Council.
http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20160315/NEWS01/160319500

Troubled waters: California salmon season facing big restrictions
SFGate by Kurtis Alexander and Jenna Lyons –  March 15, 2016
California’s commercial fish industry, already struggling with the devastating loss of the crab season, is likely to see its run of bad luck continue as new and far-reaching restrictions take aim at the state’s salmon opener in May.
http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Troubled-waters-California-salmon-season-facing-6892052.php

International

European Smoked Salmon Consumption Recovers at High End, with Growth in Alaska, Organic Labels
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – March 16, 2016
Produits de la Mer, the French Seafood Industry Magazine, recently published some interesting statistics on smoked salmon consumption from the European Monitoring Center for Seafood Markets.

Smoked salmon consumption fell in 2013 and 2014, in the face of a 1 € increase, and then again in 2014 based on a 2 € increase in the retail price.  Consumption fell 4.5% in 2013, and again in 2014.

However, in 2015, prices have stabilized and European consumers have come back to smoked salmon.  An IRI panel says that purchases increased 4.2% through the end of 2015, despite stable or higher prices.

The most interesting aspect of the report was the competition among smokers for higher end differentiation, with much of the promotion and marketing focused on more expensive smoked salmon.

So for example, the IRI panel noted a 4.2% growth overall from salmon smokers, but a 17.8% growth in wild Alaska salmon.  They also noted a 40% increase in organic sales.  And a move towards the higher quality perceived in Scotland vs. Norway.  Scottish origin fish increased 3.2%, while Norwegian origin fell 1.8%.

The main competition in the European smoked salmon market is between quality French smokers and less expensive Polish smokers.

The price gap between the two is about 5€ at the wholesale level in France.  However, a lot of the marketing and promotional money spent by Smokers is focused on their premium, more expensive brands.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1011614/European-Smoked-Salmon-Consumption-Recovers-at-High-End-with-Growth-in-Alaska-Organic-Labels

Labeling and Marketing

MSC DNA Tests Show its Chain of Custody Working but Consumer Distrust of Fish Remains at High Level
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – March 16, 2016
The 5th study conducted by the Marine Stewardship Council on its Chain of Custody program showed that 99.6% of the 256 items sampled were in fact the fish claimed on the label.

The species involved were Atlantic and Pacific Cod, Pacific Salmon, pollock, haddock, hake, hoki, herring, sardines, and rock sole.  The only item mislabeled was from Germany, where a Southern Rock sole was identified as a Northern Rock Sole.

The report shows that the MSC chain of custody is working well, but it is less convincing in the argument about using the MSC to fight fish fraud.

The reason is that fish substitutions are well known to occur among certain problem species, that account for by far the most label fraud.  These problem species are snappers, pangasius, escolar, and many sharks.
None of these problem species were included in the MSC DNA tests because they are mostly absent from the MSC certification program.

Traceability and product assurance are global problems.  The country with the highest level of suspicion over fish being what the seller says it is is China, where species fraud and substitution is rampant.

This is one reason demand for imported fish has soared in China, as upscale consumers trust the labeling of imported fish more than the labeling of local fish.  However, the MSC ecolabel program is only beginning to penetrate China.

Click on Image for Larger View

The chart shows responses to the following question:  “I sometimes doubt that the fish in products I buy is really what the label says it is”, Scores of 5+6+7 are shown.

At the recent Boston Seafood Show, traceability was an important topic of discussion.  However, traceability in the supply chain goes far  beyond simply the correct name of the fish.

Buyers want assurance from the supply chain not only about whether the fish is correctly labeled or not, but also need to know where it was caught, where it was processed, if it was farmed or wild caught, if the farm or fishing vessel involved has any record of labor violations, if antibiotics were used, if third party processing was used, and what additives or treatments the product received.

All of these concerns can be addressed by a robust traceability scheme.

The MSC should be applauded for establishing a credible and robust chain of custody, with enforcement.  They also are helping raise consumer awareness of fish labeling.  However, the MSC program – at heart about seafood sustainability – cannot be stretched and pulled to cover every consumer or supply chain need around fish.

That is why on the traceability front, more robust technical solutions are likely to be taken up in the seafood supply chain that operate quite independently of the MSC.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1011644/MSC-DNA-Tests-Show-its-Chain-of-Custody-Working-but-Consumer-Distrust-of-Fish-Remains-at-High-Level

Salmon presents opportunities for seafood department
Supermarket News by Nielsen Perishables Group Staff – March 15, 2016
Americans are taking a more active interest in their health, and according to the USDA’s recently released 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, this should include more seafood. The Guidelines recommend that Americans eat at least eight ounces of a variety of seafood per week. This news could serve to benefit seafood departments at retail whose sales have flagged in recent years, including the salmon category, one of the department’s more accessible categories in terms of consumer recognition and comfort with preparation.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1011613/Lower-Priced-Salmon-is-Driving-Overall-Seafood-Sales-at-the-Retail-Level

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Trawl Catcher Vessels in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/16/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2016 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to trawl catcher vessels in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/03/16/2016-05929/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pacific-cod-by-trawl-catcher-vessels-in-the?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 630 in the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/16/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 630 in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the B season allowance of the 2016 total allowable catch of pollock for Statistical Area 630 in the GOA.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/03/16/2016-05923/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pollock-in-statistical-area-630-in-the-gulf-of?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

FYI’s

Cordova sea otter latest in statewide trend
ASLC veterinarians say every indication that 2016 will be another record year for marine mammal strandings
Cordova Times by Jennifer Gibbins – March 13, 2016
Veterinarians at the Alaska SeaLife Center say there is every indication that 2016 will be another record year for their Wildlife Response Program. Already this year the non-profit organization, which is the only permitted marine mammal wildlife response entity in Alaska with the authorization of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has recorded 80 reports alone involving otters, and that is before the summer stranding season has even begun. That number compares with a total 300 otter reports to the Center in 2015, 116 of which became cases the Center was directly involved in, peaking last September at a rate 16 times higher than for the same period in 2014.
http://www.thecordovatimes.com/article/1610cordova-sea-otter-latest-in-statewide-trend

 

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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March 16, 2016