Alaska New Year, New Economic Landscape for Alaska’s Fishing and Processing Industry SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - January 17, 2024 Besides the weather, the most talked-about subject for those in the seafood industry, from Alaska’s coastal communities to Seattle boardrooms, is how to adjust to the rapidly-changing economic environment in Alaska’s seafood industry.The most recent tremor in the landscape was Peter Pan Seafood’s announcement to close their King Cove plant for the duration of the ‘A’ season, which opens January 20 for pollock. Extending to April, the ‘A’ season is when the majority of the 1.3 million metric tons of Bering Sea pollock and much of the Bering Sea Pacific cod quota of 147,753 mt are landed and processed.Peter Pan is set to re-open the King Cove plant in pollock ‘B’ season.Trident Seafoods, which earlier this year announced a plan to sell off four of its Alaska-based shore plants, will be operating during ‘A’ season at their Kodiak plant, also buying tanner crab for the season that opened January 15, 2024.Peter Pan is set to re-open the King Cove plant in the ‘B’ season for pollock, which begins in June and goes into October. Peter Pan’s other three processing plans will open for the salmon season as usual.“We are saddened to inform our fishermen and the King Cove community that Peter Pan Seafood will not be able to operate our King Cove facility for the 2024 A season,” the company said in a release last week. “This is an unfortunate but temporary step. We will be open for the 2024 B Season, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to Alaska, our fleet, and the communities where we do business.Trident Seafoods, which earlier this year announced a plan to sell off four of its Alaska-based shore plants, will be operating during ‘A’ season at their Kodiak plant, also buying tanner crab for the season that opened January 15, 2024.Plans for a consolidation of sorts between Silver Bay and Peter Pan’s Valdez processing plants make sense, and the move has been speculated upon in various industry media. No official announcement has been made to date.OBI Seafoods is the result of a merger between Ocean Beauty Seafood and Icicle Seafoods that was completed four years ago. Both were iconic companies with multiple plants in Alaska, each with a significant global marketing reach. Because of their move in 2020, they be well-placed to withstand the challenges ahead.These players in the 130-year-old seafood industry in Alaska are seeing pressure at both the market end and the resource end. Climate-change has triggered stock collapses in Gulf of Alaska cod, Bering Sea snow crab, salmon in various areas of the state, and reduced populations in other species. Pollock and sablefish may be the early winners in the climate change sweepstakes, but markets for both species are at or near record lows in most markets.“The current state of the seafood industry is tumultuous, and it has impacted many operators in the region,” Peter Pan said in a statement released last week. “The industry is facing inflation, interest rates hikes, financing challenges, and high fuel costs. We have worked through these issues as diligently as possible and have explored possible options. This temporary step, while difficult, is necessary to maintain our long-term commitment to the future of our business in Alaska.”“We remain committed to continuing to provide the best service and support possible to our fleet, communities, and stakeholders while continuing our mission to be an exemplary global supplier of top-quality and responsibly sourced seafood," Rodger May, Peter Pan's co-owner, said last week. "Looking to the future, we will employ more than 1,000 this year as we open the King Cove facility for the 2024 B Season and our other three facilities as normal for the salmon season.“We are steadfast in our future commitment to Alaska, our fleet, and the communities we do business in. We are grateful for the strong relationship we have with King Cove and we remain committed to doing everything in our power to support the community and fishermen during this time,” May said.Last weekend Kodiak crabbers and processors agreed to ex-vessel prices for tanner crab for the second-largest tanner crab fishery in the last 30 years. However, a glut of Russian king and snow crab hit Japanese markets just last week, which sent prices plunging in Japan.Meanwhile, cod boats have been fishing in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea since January 1 on a catch limit of 147,753 mt in the Bering Sea and 8,080 mt in the Aleutian Islands. Next week the International Pacific Halibut Commission will meet in Anchorage for its 100th Anniversary and annual meeting. There, they will determine the 2024 catch limits in Alaska, British Columbia, and the West Coast, as well as season dates and other regulatory changes. That season is expected to open in mid- to late-March or early April, and close in early November.Alaska’s first Chinook and sockeye salmon season will open in the Copper River district in mid-May, followed by Bristol Bay in early July and throughout the summer for pink and chum salmon in Southeast and South-central Alaska. https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1269669/New-Year-New-Economic-Landscape-for-Alaskas-Fishing-and-Processing-Industry National How a Supreme Court case about herring fishermen could upend federal regulation, on land and sea Alaska Public Media by Liz Ruskin - January 18, 2024 At a glance, the case before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday was about a federal rule requiring Atlantic herring fishermen to pay to have observers onboard. But the goal of the fishermen and their allies is far larger: to loosen federal regulation of all industries, coast to coast. https://alaskapublic.org/2024/01/18/how-a-supreme-court-case-about-herring-fishermen-could-upend-federal-regulation-on-land-and-sea/ International China retains cuts to seafood tariffs made in 2023 Seafood Source by Mark Godfrey - January 19, 2024 China has retained cuts made in 2023 to tariffs on imported seafood products as it seeks to diversify and deepen its food sources. https://www.seafoodsource.com/news/premium/supply-trade/china-retains-cuts-to-seafood-tariffs-made-in-2023 *Requires Subscription US government corrects export ban for Russian-origin pollock processed in China The ban aims to address challenges competing with pollock that originates in Russia that is reprocessed in China. Intrafish by Rachel Sapin - January 18, 2024 The Biden administration has corrected an an executive order issued in December that closes a regulatory loophole that had been allowing Russian-harvested seafood reprocessed in other countries to be imported into the United States.The executive order applies to salmon, cod, pollock, and crab, but the guidance issued for pollock in December left out harmonized tariff schedule codes (HTS) for some frozen pollock product forms, which means some banned fish could still enter the US supply chain.An update provided Thursday from the Office of Foreign Assets Control included several new codes for pollock that now cover all raw materials some US processors import to make finished products such as fish sticks, including frozen blocks of pollock fillets and minced pollock fillets, that also may originate from Russian-caught pollock. https://www.intrafish.com/trade/us-government-corrects-export-ban-for-russian-origin-pollock-processed-in-china/2-1-1585608 Federal Register North Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public MeetingA Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 01/19/2024 The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) Pacific Northwest Crab Industry Advisory Committee (PNCIAC) will meet via web conference. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2024/01/19/2024-01031/north-pacific-fishery-management-council-public-meeting Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Scallop Specification Process Flexibility A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 01/19/2024 The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announces the approval of Amendment 18 to the Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for the Scallop Fishery off Alaska (Scallop FMP). Amendment 18 revises timing requirements for the Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation (SAFE) report to allow more flexibility for non-annual assessments and to set scallop harvest specifications less frequently than on an annual basis. This will reduce the burden on staff and provide more time for the development of new stock assessment methods. Amendment 18 is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the Scallop FMP, and other applicable laws. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2024/01/19/2024-01021/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-scallop-specification-process-flexibility FYI’s Melovidov to lead CBSFA in fisheries ventures Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - January 18, 2024 Board members of the Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association (CBSFA) have selected veteran seafood harvester Ray Melovidov as the entity’s new president, one of six Community Development Quota (CDQ) groups serving coastal communities of the Bering Sea by managing allocated federal fisheries resources. https://www.thecordovatimes.com/2024/01/18/melovidov-to-lead-cbsfa-in-fisheries-ventures/ Alaska processor names new COOMajor executive shakeups have happened at the company recently as part of its "growth succession plan." Intrafish by Rachel Sapin - January 18, 2024 OBI Seafoods, one of Alaska's largest seafood producers, has named Brian O'Leary its new chief operating officer (COO). https://www.intrafish.com/people/alaska-processor-names-new-coo/2-1-1585675 Opinion OPINION: Unpacking contradictions in Alaska’s hatchery debate Anchorage Daily News by Eric Jordan - January 18, 2024 In a recent op-ed published in the Anchorage Daily News, professor Peter Westley of the University of Alaska Fairbanks urged a more humble and evidence-based discussion regarding Alaska’s salmon hatcheries. While I appreciate the call for humility, it’s essential to address a significant contradiction within his argument. On one hand, Westley encouraged open-mindedness, suggesting that all participants in the hatchery dialogue should accept the possibility that their beliefs might be partly incorrect. On the other hand, he boldly asserted that hatcheries have not yielded as much benefit to Alaskans as believed and have detrimentally affected wild salmon productivity while reshaping ecosystems unpredictably. https://www.adn.com/opinions/2024/01/17/opinion-unpacking-contradictions-in-alaskas-hatchery-debate/
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