Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Mitch Borden – May 14, 2018
Coming up on this week’s Alaska Fisheries Report, Salmon opens in a week, we’ll have predictions, forecasts, and prices. Bristol Bay’s sac roe herring season is all but over. A new report shows Community Development Quotas in Western Alaska are unfairly low, and no more loosey-goosey vessel registrations. All that and more coming up on this week’s edition of the Alaska Fisheries Report, right after this.
Commercial fisheries lending limit up
Cordova Times – May 15, 2018
Loan caps from the Alaska Commercial Fishing Loan Fund now stands at $400,000 for those wanting to borrow for the purchase of entry permits, thanks to passage of House Bill 56.
ADF&G Budget Increase of $1 Million Survives Legislative Process
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – May 15, 2018
The $997,000 increase to Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game budget for next year made it through the state’s budget process. The deal was made in late April, when both the House and Senate agreed to identical line item increases throughout the state.
Regionally, the nearly $1 million will be distributed as follows:
$465 million in the Yukon River and Norton Sound area
$240 million in Kodiak and Chignik
$161 million in Prince William Sound, Bristol Bay, and Togiak
$131 million in Southeast Alaska
Marine research on juvenile chinook salmon in the Bering Sea, and sonar monitoring for those fish in the Yukon River received the most funding of the increase, an additional $300,000.
Also in that area, a newly funded project on Norton Sound king crab trawl research was approved.
In the Westward Region, Kodiak and Chignik weirs and salmon surveys will be funded through the increased budget.
In Prince William Sound, a tanner crab survey was funded as well as Togiak herring assessment and the Alagnak salmon counting tower operation in Bristol Bay. The PWS tanner fishery opened this year for the first time in decades.
Herring assessments and sablefish assessment were funded in Southeast Alaska with the increased funding.
The last weeks of the state budget were focused on reducing the deficit without decreasing the Permanent Fund. In the end, that fund was kept at a level that would pay out individual dividends to Alaska residents of $1,600 next year.
The overall operating budget at $4.8 billion is slightly higher than last year’s but is still $1 billion less than in 2015.
BBSRI to study mesh selectivity in the Nushagak District
KDLG by Isabelle Ross – May 15, 2018
The Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute will begin a study on mesh selectivity in early June.
Labeling and Marketing
Analysis: Surge of Canadian Halibut Pushing Prices Down to Five Year Low
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton and Liz Cuozzo – May 16, 2018
Fresh Atlantic halibut is trading at a five year low, and it is affecting prices for Pacific halibut as well, which are also at five year lows. The last time Pacific Halibut was quoted by Urner Barry below $6.50 for 10-20 lbs. dressed halibut was in 2013.
The primary driver is the loss of much of the East Coast market to Pacific Halibut. This is because Canadian production continues to increase, and year to date imports of fresh halibut are up 30%, after over 7 million lbs. was imported in 2017.
This has meant that East coast buyers no longer need to buy Pacific Halibut, as Atlantic halibut is plentiful and relatively low priced.
Pacific Halibut prices have reacted, with fishermen at the dock getting around $5.00 per lb. vs. the $7 dollars that they received a few years ago.
The falling prices have hit frozen pacific halibut as well, leading to some inventory build up for product that was landed last fall.
The Alaskan fishermen are well aware of this situation. Speaking to KBBI, Malcom Milne, a Homer-based commercial fisherman, and he said he saw this coming after buyers began to turn away loads of halibut last fall.
Chart: Whole fresh halibut 20-40 lbs FOB Seattle, Urner Barry.
“Been a long-time coming I think, and my opinion when we were getting $7 per pound, it was great – great for the crew shares in the boat. But it just didn’t seem like a sustainable price point,” Milne said.
Milne said $5 per pound should still be profitable for most fishermen, and he thinks that price point may get Pacific halibut back on the menu.
“Hopefully we can rebuild some of the markets. I think we probably lost some market share due to substitution,” Milne added. “I know it’s always hard to get back on menus and back in peoples’ minds. Hopefully this will do it.”
But there is often a lag time involved for products removed from restaurant menus due to price. They don’t come back on right away. Buyers wait until they regain confidence the price has stabilized and then demand creeps up.
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