Alaska/Pacific Coast

The Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Jay Barrett – October 6, 2016
Coming up this week, the fisheries in Cook Inlet remain so contentious that the Feds are being sent in to manage it; They’re going to try and track illegal fishing with an eye in the sky, and while many Alaskans are calling on the president to stop creating marine monuments, the people of Saint George are asking the feds for a marine sanctuary around their island. All that and more on this week’s Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from Rashah McChesney and Zoe Sobel from Alaska’s Energy Desk, APRN’s Liz Ruskin and KDLG’s Dave Bendinger.

Bristol Bay Red King Crab Quota Set
Fishermen’s News – October 5, 2015
State fishery managers in Alaska have set the Bristol Bay red king crab quota for the season opening Oct. 15 at 8,469,000 pounds, with 7,622,100 pounds for individual fishing quota holders and 846,900 pounds in community development quota.

Disastrous harvest for pink salmon
Biologists puzzled as to why harvest is lowest since the 1970s
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – October 6, 2016
Around the state, biologists are unsure of what led to the lowest pink salmon harvest since the 1970s in a season that led Gov. Bill Walker to seek a disaster declaration from the federal government to bail out beleaguered pink fishermen.

UCIDA head hopes for fish plan based on 10 standards
Homer News – October 5, 2016
After the well-publicized court win by commercial fishing groups requiring the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to work with the state to establish a Fisheries Management Plan for salmon fisheries that take place largely in federal waters complying with the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the question is, now what?

Alaska Bering Sea Snow Crab TAC Slashed 50% to 21.5 Million Pounds; Lowest in 45 Years
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – October 7, 2016
The Alaska Dept of Fish and Game announced that the Bering Sea Snow Crab Fishery would open, but with the lowest harvest TAC in 45 years.  The last time the Opilio fishery in Alaska landed less than 21 million pounds was in 1971.

The fishery will open October 15th with a TAC of 21.570 million pounds.  ADF&G likely struggled to open the fishery, as they said they saw continuing declines in survey biomass for both mature males and female snow crab.  They also saw a high proportion of old shell crab in the survey, which is crab that did not molt the prior year.

Finally, they said that fishery performance, as measured by catch per unit of effort, has been steadily declining since 2007, and the 2015/16 CPUE was the lowest since crab rationalization was implemented in 2005/6.

This is not a pretty picture.  Last year the total TAC was 40.6 million, and in 2014/15, it was 67.95 million pounds.

The TAC set for the fishery this year clearly shows that the survey data was barely above the minimum legal threshold to have a crab season

With snow crab prices already at record levels, with street prices over $7.00 for some products, there is no prospect that the crab fleet will make up the cut in revenue through increases in price.  A doubling of the street price would put snow crab sections over $14.00 a pound, and that is extremely unlikely to happen.

The Alaska crab fleet is paid on a price formula based on a share of wholesale prices, so the ability to make up revenue lost due to the 50% cut will be limited to what the market might accept.  When Oregon Dungeness crab became extremely short a couple of years ago, section prices increased from $6.00 to over $9.00.  But in that case, there was both a live market supporting the price and no other large-scale producers.  Snow crab does not have a live market for shipping to China, and there are other major producers including Canada, Russia, and Norway.  These factors suggest that the level of price increases due to the short supply will be limited.

High prices, however, will spur more production in both Russia and the Barents Sea.

But in Atlantic Canada, the largest producing region, crab landings are also declining.  Reports from fishermen in both the Gulf and Newfoundland talk about crab being hard to find, and they expect further declines in volume.  In 2016, Newfoundland snow crab landings were the lowest in ten years.

Crab is generally known as a cold water species, and it is quite possible that the warming waters in both the Bering Sea and Canada have had an impact on crab recruitment.

We have already seen global declines in another cold water species, Pandalus borealis and jordani shrimp, also called cold water shrimp.  From a high global production of nearly 500,000 tons just ten years ago, landings likely fell below 200,000 tons this year, with cuts in Newfoundland and the West Coast of the US.  However, even as production declines continued, prices for coldwater shrimp began to fall also as customers stepped back from the product.

Snow crab has occupied a unique position as the lowest priced shell on crab product, leading to heavy usage in both buffet houses and at retail, where snow crab is a main driver of traffic.  However, the buffet houses have a price limit after which they no longer buy crab.

The extreme cutbacks in Alaska at a time when stocks elsewhere are also under pressure, is going to create a real headache for buyers in both the US and Japan.

The only mitigating factor in this announcement is that there is a season, even at a low level.  However, it is likely that the decision as to whether to open the fishery or not was a close call.  Nothing in the survey data has pointed at an early turnaround.  With the Bairdi fishery closed, with red king crab cut back 15% in Alaska, and with no opening of the St. Matthews blue king crab fishery this year, it is clear that what ever problems are causing poor recruitment of snow crab are impacting other crab species as well.


NOAA Fisheries Celebrates National Seafood Month
NOAA – October 3, 2016
Celebrating Sustainability
Listen up seafood lovers! October is National Seafood Month, a time to highlight sustainable fisheries and the smart seafood choices they provide. Ensuring that both present and future generations can enjoy the benefits of sustainable seafood
is a core responsibility of NOAA Fisheries.


US wants to strengthen agreement to ban Arctic Ocean fishing by Patrick Whittle – October 6, 2016
The United States is trying to broker an agreement between a host of nations to prohibit unregulated fishing in the international waters of the Arctic Ocean.

With Quota Renewals Coming in 2018, Russia Gets Serious Processing of Pollock in the Far East
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Eugene Gerden – October 6, 2016
Russia plans to significantly increase the volume of fish processing during the next several years, with the aim to become more competitive in the global fish market, according to an official spokesman of Russian Federal Agency for Fisheries (Rosrybolovstvo).  Their power to do so is strengthened by the fact that most fish quotas, allocated on a ten-year basis, come up for renewal in 2018.

According to recent statements of Ilya Shestakov, head of Rosrybolovstvo, a particular attention will be paid to pollock.

According to Rosrybolovstvo, despite the fact that the volume of pollock production in Russia is steadily growing, the current situation in the industry remains complex, which is mainly due to small volumes of processing.

In order to improve this, Russia plans to significantly increase the production of fillets, minced meat and other end products of pollock. This will allow an increase the economic return of the country’s pollock production by about two times and will help to reduce exports to abroad, and in particular to China, which still remains the largest sale market for Russian pollock.

In 2015 China produced 440,000 tons of fillets from Russian pollock. This accounted for about 45 percent of global production of pollock fillets, valued of approximately US$1.3 billion. This sparks concerns from the Russian government.

Unlike to Western countries, where more than 90 percent of pollock is consumed in the form of fillets, surimi and products based on them,  90% of pollock,  supplied to the Russian market is consumed in frozen form without any processing.  This typically takes the form of whole gutted pollock. similar to the manner whiting is processed on shore in the US.

The same situation is currently observed in the case of cod, haddock, Pacific salmon, flounder and other fish.

Still, there is a possibility that such a situation will change already in the coming years, as the Russian government has announced its plans to significantly increase the volume of processing and exports of pollock products abroad.

As part of these plans, the Russian government plans to allocate funds in the building of new modern fish trawlers and onshore processing  plants.

According to state estimates’, implementation of these measures will allow an increase the share of high-processed fish products in the total structure of exports of fish and seafood out of Russia from the current 6 percent to 40 percent.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Exchange of Flatfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 10/06/2016
NMFS is exchanging unused flathead sole Community Development Quota (CDQ) for yellowfin sole CDQ acceptable biological catch (ABC) reserves in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2016 total allowable catch of yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area to be harvested.


Tradex Foods On Hand to Answer Your Seafood Questions this October
Fish Site – October 7,  2016
US – October is National Seafood Month and to celebrate, Tradex Foods is sharing its knowledge of seafood.

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 7, 2016