Pacific Halibut Season Opens in Favorable Market: Inventories Down and Quotas Up SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - March 13, 2019 Fresh Pacific halibut will be available to the market next week as the 2019 Pacific halibut season opener gets underway at noon local time on Friday, March 15. Market conditions look good with frozen inventory low, compared with this time last year. Catch limits will be slightly up this year along the Pacific coast: 29.43 million compared to last year’s 28.04 mlbs. The International Pacific Halibut Commission approved an increase of 5% overall which translates to increased catches in all but two of the eight regulatory areas. British Columbia (Area 2B) is down 370,000 pounds from last year’s 6.32 mlbs to this year’s 5.95 mlbs. Area 3B, the western Gulf of Alaska, is down 290,000 lbs. to 2.33 mlbs, from last year’s 2.62 mlbs. All others showed slight increases: 2A - 1.5 million pounds, up 16% from 2018 3A - 10.26 million pounds, up nearly 9% 4A - 1.65 million pounds, up more than 20% 4B - 1.21 million pounds, up 15% As the gear hits the water in B.C. and Alaska, market conditions are more favorable for fresh halibut this year, primarily due to lower than average frozen inventories. Buyers were cautious in their purchases in 2018, after a difficult market in 2017. As result, there are lower inventories as the 2019 season gets underway, and renewed interest in fresh halibut during a Lenten season that lasts until April 20 this year. Opening prices are unknown at this point, but last year’s prices for 20-40 lbs began at $7.56 on average, below the three-year average and down 21.5% from the high 2017 opening price of $9.63. The fresh market closed in 2018 stronger on limited landings at $8.50 that were above 2017 closing price of $8.13 but off from a high average price of $9.25 in 2015. The Pacific halibut season will close November 14, 2019. https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1134950/Pacific-Halibut-Season-Opens-in-Favorable-Market-Inventories-Down-and-Quotas-Up Aerial surveys begin as ADF&G prepares for herring fishery KCAW by Katherine Rose - March 12, 2019 The Alaska Department of Fish and Game began conducting aerial surveys of Sitka Sound today (Tuesday 3-12-19), in preparation for the 2019 Sitka Sac Roe Herring Fishery. According to Eric Coonradt, area management biologist for ADF&G, no herring were seen in this first flight over the Sound and no herring spawn was observed. https://www.kcaw.org/2019/03/12/aerial-surveys-begin-as-adfg-prepares-for-herring-fishery/ Board votes down personal-use priority proposal Alaska Journal of Commerce by Elizabeth Earl - March 13, 2019 The Board of Fisheries has voted down a controversial proposal that would have given personal-use fisheries priority in its allocation criteria as well as two proposals to change the way the Alaska Department of Fish and Game sets and manages escapement goals. http://www.alaskajournal.com/2019-03-13/board-votes-down-personal-use-priority-proposal#.XIpRl9F7lp8 Labeling and Marketing Wild Alaska Halibut and Sablefish Harvest Seasons Kickoff March 15 Bringing availability to plates across the country, the annual Alaska halibut and sablefish harvest signals the start of spring seafood season PR Newswire by Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute - March 14, 2019 Supplying more than 90 percent of the Pacific halibut and 68 percent of the sablefish harvested in the United States, wild Alaska halibut and sablefish (black cod) harvest seasons open on Friday, March 15, just in time for spring. The two species join in-season Alaska pollock, cod, rockfish and sole to round out Alaska's wide variety of whitefish. Domestically sourced from glacier-fed waters, the unparalleled flavor and exceptional quality of wild, sustainable Alaska whitefish species make them a must-have ingredient for home cooks, foodies and chefs alike. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/wild-alaska-halibut-and-sablefish-harvest-seasons-kickoff-march-15-300812187.html Federal Register Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Final 2019 and 2020 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/13/2019 NMFS announces final 2019 and 2020 harvest specifications, apportionments, and prohibited species catch allowances for the groundfish fishery of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to establish harvest limits for groundfish during the remainder of the 2019 and the start of the 2020 fishing years, and to accomplish the goals and objectives of the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/03/13/2019-04539/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-bering-sea-and-aleutian-islands-final-2019-and Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/13/2019 NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 610 in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the B season allowance of the 2019 total allowable catch of pollock for Statistical Area 610 in the GOA. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/03/13/2019-04593/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pollock-in-statistical-area-610-in-the-gulf-of Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/13/2019 The Pacific Fishery Management Council (Pacific Council) will hold a webinar meeting to review the 2019 update stock assessment for Pacific sardine. This webinar is open to the public. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/03/13/2019-04580/pacific-fishery-management-council-public-meeting
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