Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Closes 2016/17 Bering Sea Bairdi Crab Season For Low Biomass; Opilio Decision Still Pending
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh – October 6, 2016
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the closure to the Bering Sea’s bairdi crab fishery for the 2016/17 season because of low stock abundance. Officials also closed blue and red king crab fishing in Pribilof and St. Matthew Island waters over similar stock findings.

For the bairdi, or tanner, crab fishery the Bering Sea closure is not much of a surprise at this time since evidence of subpar female biomass was first reported at the end of August. Summer survey results found the 8.067 million pound mature female stock was below the minimum regulatory threshold of 9.832 million pounds necessary for a fishery opening.

Alaska’s crabbers will now have to wait two years for the commercial bairdi fishery to reopen. Management protocols require that the stock meet minimum biomass thresholds for two consecutive years before the fishery can be reopened.

This means both next year’s survey and the 2018 survey would need to surpass that threshold before ADF&G could consider opening the fishery, which targets male crab only.

“Once it reaches that threshold, the TAC is automatically reduced by half. If our petition is denied, that’s what we’re looking at in the 2018-19 season, best case scenario,” said Ruth Christianson, Science Advisor for the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

The Alaskan Crabbers filed an emergency petition in September asking the Alaska Board of Fish to reconsider their harvest policy for tanner crab. However, it is a rare event that such petitions are taken up and given the Bering Sea closure announcement, this was no different.

Meanwhile, Alaska also closed the red and blue king crab fishery in the Pribilof District also because of low abundance. The blue king crab fishery for the Saint Matthew Island Section was also closed for lack of biomass.

Alaska’s opilio or snow crab season is now the last commercial crab fishery announcement pending release before the season starts on October 15. Here again, summer survey results were not positive for the fishery. Last season, Bering Sea snow crabbers were dealt a 40 percent cut to the catch.

At the very least Alaska’s snow crab fishery is expected to open under a reduced quota. It is also a very real possibility that the fishery is closed outright.

Fish and Game cuts Bering Sea crab quota
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – October 5, 2016
The day before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will review drastically declining snow and tanner crab stocks, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game cut Bering Sea red king crab stocks by 15 percent.

‘A season of recovery’: Toxins likely not to be an issue for upcoming California crab season
Times-Standard by Will Houston – October 4, 2016
For the first time in a year, North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire said he had good news for the Dungeness and rock crab fishing fleet in California.

Fish and Game takes conservative approach to 2017 Togiak herring forecast
KDLG by Dave Bendinger – October 5, 2016
Using an average across the data set, minus ten percent, ADF&G predicts 130,852 ton biomass, with 22,943 tons set aside for Togiak sac roe commercial fishery.


FDA Seafood Refusals Dip to Monthly Low in Sept But Overall Rejections Continue to Outpace 2015
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh – October 6, 2016
The FDA’s total number of seafood refusals in September was the lowest monthly figure of the year in 2016, the second straight year that September figures represented a monthly low. However, this year’s generally higher rate of rejections continued as monthly and year-to-date figures remain well above 2015 levels.

The FDA rejected 116 line items of seafood in September, which was 22 percent higher compared to September 2015 figures.

For the year, FDA seafood rejections total 1,540 line items. This represents a 19 percent increase compared to year-to-date levels at this point in 2015.  It’s an increase of 251 line items.

The FDA is now rejecting about 171 line items per month this year versus 143 line items per month in 2015.

Filth continues to be this year’s top reason for seafood refusals. Over half of this year’s rejections are attributed to filth in the product.

Last September, seafood refusals hit a monthly low in 2015 at 95 line items and this year is no different. September’s refusal figure is the lowest monthly total in 2016.

The low monthly figure last year was attributed to a steep drop in shrimp refusals from Malaysia for antibiotics. By this time in 2015, Malaysian shrimp rejections accounted for the bulk of the record 438 line items of shrimp rejected from the market.

The sudden decline in last September’s shrimp rejections was because transshipping issues with the Malaysian product had been identified as the cause. Efforts to remedy rejections were underway and had taken effect.

This year’s lower September figure could be attributed to zero lobster rejections in the month. Until now Brazilian Spiny Lobsters were consistently among the top 5 most rejected seafood items of 2016 because of filth.

No news has been reported on any efforts to curb spiny lobster rejections from Brazil. Aside from no lobster, swordfish and anchovy were newcomers to September’s list of top five most refused items. Tuna, mahi and shrimp remained among the top five in September and for the year.

But despite September’s downturn, and the conspicuous absence of spiny lobster rejections for the month, the FDA continues to reject far more seafood from the US market in 2016.  There is actually a notable balance in the number of rejections across the top five species in 2016, which is unlike last year when Malaysian shrimp was a key driver.

If anything, September’s data is additional confirmation of the FDA’s across-the-board increase in seafood inspection rates that have not targeted any specific species or origin.


Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 10/06/2016
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amounts of Pacific cod from catcher vessels greater than 60 feet (18.3 meters (m)) length overall (LOA) using pot gear, catcher vessels using trawl gear, and vessels using jig gear to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 m) LOA using hook-and-line or pot gear, catcher processors (C/Ps) using pot gear, and Amendment 80 (A80) C/Ps in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2016 total allowable catch of Pacific cod to be harvested.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail:; Website:
Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

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October 6, 2016