Alaska/Pacific Coast

Sockeye Harvest Likely Second Largest In 20 Years
Fishermen’s News – October 26, 2016
Alaska’s summer salmon season, based on preliminary harvests, produced more than 112 million salmon of all species, and while it is a substantial number of fish, it’s well below the anticipated total harvest. Still sockeye harvests will likely end up being the second largest of the last 20 years, with last year being the largest harvest for that period, according to the latest report from the McDowell Group in Juneau, for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Association.

ASMI Annual Meeting Reviews Difficult 2016 and Looks at Challenges and Opportunities in 2017
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – October 26, 2016
Despite Alaska’s fiscal crisis, a disastrous pink salmon season, problems with pollock fillet prices, and a strong dollar that makes exports of Alaska’s seafood painful at best, Alexa Tonkovich is optimistic.

“I’ll go out on a limb and say it — I’m excited for the week ahead and I’m excited for the year ahead,” the executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute told a standing-room only crowd at the All Hands Meeting in Anchorage yesterday.

“We have so much energy, passion, and creativity in this room,” she said. “I am consistently impressed with the great work our staff and contractors do and the creativity in our organization.”

Tonkovich acknowledged challenges beyond ASMI’s influence: the Russian import ban, Brexit, climate change, and eNGO pressures, but said the three-day meeting should not be “all doom and gloom.”

“We should not forget that we are lucky enough to promote the best seafood in the world. Globally, Alaska is one of the leaders in fisheries management and we have diverse and abundant fisheries,” she said.

The program reports that followed Tonkovich’s remarks seemed to illustrate how the award-winning marketing group has turned political upheaval into marketing opportunities.

The Russian embargo of two years ago hit Alaska seafood exporters hard, and Prime Minister Medvedev has assured the world that it will not be lifted until at least late 2017. ASMI applied for and received an emerging markets grant from USDA to target former USSR republics of Romania, Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, while maintaining a modest trade servicing program in the Ukraine, Romania, and Russia for when full trade relations finally open. It has helped to keep exports of Alaska seafood to these nations at least static, with some expansion of awareness into new market sectors.

“The November 2015 terrorist attack in Paris and the March 2016 bombing at Brussel’s airport resulted in a 60% drop in attendance at ASMI’s pavilion at the Brussels Seafood Show,” recounted Hannah Lindoff, International Program Director. “But ASMI maintained a busy pavilion with the presence of the Alaska Seafood Truck, which we drove in from Germany and used as a catering center.

“It was a major draw for the show,” Lindoff said. “And it was the best food I’ve ever eaten at any show.”

ASMI intends to use the Seafood Truck at the Brussels Sseafood Show again next year, perhaps with celebrity chefs from Paris cooking at the pavilion.

Despite unpredictable harvests and a thirty percent cut in total budget, ASMI’s domestic foodservice program achieved a milestone in brand awareness on menus. “The ASMI brand is recognized as the #1 brand across all proteins on a menu,” announced Karl Uri, Foodservice Manager. “Ninety-four percent of consumers are more likely to order seafood when Alaska is on the menu,” he added.

The Responsible Fishery Management program ASMI developed is the first in the world to be fully approved by the Global Seafood Sustainability Initiative. Other programs, including the Marine Stewardship Program and Iceland’s sustainability program are currently being evaluated by GSSI, explained Susan Marks, ASMI’s Sustainability Director.

Marks encouraged suppliers to access ASMI’s Sustainability page for new materials that explain RFM and GSSI in detail, for employees, distributors, and customers.

Andy Wink of the McDowell Group put the current seafood industry’s situation in perspective. While the value of seafood overall has dropped 7 percent from 2011 to 2015, Alaska’s mineral industry has dropped 18 percent in production value, and oil has dropped 59 percent.

The report’s market summary on whitefish showed low Alaska pollock block prices and large pollock fillet inventory, pointed out that Russian pollock harvests are way up, and pollock roe exports are down significantly.

In the salmon summary, Wink noted that outside of Bristol Bay and the Peninsula, forecasts were about double what was actually caught this year, costing processors expenditures on tenders, fuel and services that weren’t needed because the run did not materialize.

On the bright side, Wink offered four positive headlines from recent months:
• Study: Farmed salmon have half the omega-3s as they did 5 years ago
• Hokkaido chum ikura prices may reach record levels
• Japan: Chilean Coho H&G price up 20% Y/Y at USD $6.60/kg
• Fresh sockeye production up sharply in Bristol Bay

The McDowell Group is working with ASMI on a “trailblazing project” to identify new product forms of commercial species like scallops, shrimp, skates, herring, and other non-traditional seafood.

“There are approximately 100 million pounds of these not so well-known species harvested every year in Alaska,” Wink said. “And each one has its own challenges and opportunities.”

The All Hands meeting will continue through Thursday, when initiatives for the coming year, including an already pared down operations and programs budget, and new committee and board appointments will be announced.


NOAA Says Seafood Consumption Heading in Right Direction in US, as 2015 Per Capita Number Jumps
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – October 26, 2016
NOAA has just released the 2015 Fisheries of the US (Link), and says that per capita seafood consumption rose in the US last year.

According to their model, per capita consumption jumped 0.9 lbs per person, however this overstates the actual consumption.

NOAA makes clear in their report that they use a disappearance model, in which they assume all seafood produced in a given year is consumed that same year.

However, 2015 saw very large pink salmon runs, and production of canned salmon, much of which was carried over into 2016. Also there are large inventories of pollock blocks on hand, currently depressing prices.

Estimated U. S. per capita consumption of fish and shellfish was 15.5 pounds (edible meat) in 2015. This total is an increase of 0.9 pounds from the 14.6 pounds consumed in 2014.

The increase represents 0.6 lbs of fresh and frozen seafood, to a total of 11.5 lbs. per capita, and a 0.3 lb increase in canned seafood products, mostly due to salmon. Tuna consumption continued to decline, from 2.3 to 2.2 lbs per capita.

Other data from the report is that both Dutch Harbor and New Bedford continued to occupy their usual tops spots for volume and value of seafood landed, respectively.

NOAA also went out of their way to suggest that their estimate of 90% of US seafood coming from imports is unreliable, and that they think the percentage of domestic product is actually higher than this suggests.

They say “NMFS believes that the existing model may overestimate this percentage. The calculation is made by converting all imports, exports, domestic landings, and domestic processing into a common, standard edible meat weight. Numerous conversion factors are used to calculate this edible meat weight standard, and the accuracy and variability of these factors are likely to effect the overall calculation. In addition, this figure may include a substantial amount of domestic catch that was exported for further processing and returned to the United States as an import in a processed form. Therefore, while seafood imports do appear to be rising, the exact figure is difficult to know. NOAA Fisheries plans to investigate better ways to report consumption and indicate the Nation’s dependence on imported seafood.”

However, overall the report is a very positive sign for the US seaofood industry, pointing to rising conumption and value of seafood in general.

Industry sustainability report says B.C. salmon farmers are modernizing and advancing
Campbell River Mirror – October 18, 2016
Salmon farmers in B.C. are achieving third-party certifications as fast, or faster than any other region in the world where farms are raising Atlantic Salmon, according to the BC Salmon Farmers Association Progress Report released on Oct. 14 at the association’s business summit in Campbell River on Friday.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Economic Exclusive Zone Off Alaska; Groundfish Fishery by Vessels Using Trawl Gear in the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 10/26/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for groundfish by vessels using trawl gear in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA), except for directed fishing for pollock by vessels using pelagic trawl gear in those portions of the GOA open to directed fishing for pollock. This closure also does not apply to fishing by vessels participating in the cooperative fishery in the Rockfish Program for the Central GOA. This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2016 Pacific halibut prohibited species catch limit specified for vessels using trawl gear in the GOA.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
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Phone: 206.281.1667
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October 26, 2016