BOF defeats KRSA proposal to change allocation criteria
CDFU opposed limiting history of a fishery to 20 years in considering allocation criteria
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - March 15, 2019
A proposal that would have favored allocating more fish for personal use and sport fishing anglers over commercial harvesters whose entry into the fishery is limited was defeated on March 11 by the Alaska Board of Fisheries.
Approval for pink salmon disaster funding expected soon
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman - March 19, 2019
Approval of the disaster relief application process for harvesters impacted by the 2016 pink salmon disaster is now estimated to be about three weeks out, according to a top aide to Rep. Louise States, R-Kodiak.
Russian Fishery, Agama Group roll out pollock line
Seafood Source by Christine Blank - March 18, 2019
Russian Fishery Company (RFC) and Agama Group’s new retail Alaska pollock line will arrive in Russian retail chains in April.
US-China Tariff Dispute Takes a Toll on Some Alaska Seafood Processors, According to Survey
Anchorage Daily News by Annie Zak - March 18, 2019
In the long term, tariffs could slow U.S. consumption of seafood because prices could increase.
Seafood processing businesses in Alaska are feeling the hurt from the U.S.-China tariff battle, according to the results of a survey from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Fourteen Alaska seafood processors responded to the survey, and 65 percent of those reported lost sales due to tariffs in China. Half of respondents reported delays in sales, and 36 percent reported lost customers.
“Those are significant numbers,” said Jeremy Woodrow, communications director for ASMI, the state’s official marketing arm for the industry. It’s not so easy to just sell product affected by the tariffs somewhere else, either, he said, because of how long Alaska has been an established presence in the Chinese market.
“Over 20 years of work, you can’t just turn around and pivot and sell that elsewhere,” he said. “It’ll take time to develop other markets if this ongoing issue with China and the U.S. doesn’t get corrected.”
There are hundreds of companies that process Alaska seafood, but many deal with small volumes. The 14 processors ASMI surveyed process “a significant majority” of the state’s total annual seafood harvest, Woodrow said. He wouldn’t say which companies answered the survey.
President Donald Trump’s administration has been in a back-and-forth tariff battle with China since early last year. A 25 percent tariff on U.S. seafood exports to China went into effect in July last year, and in September there was a 10 percent tariff increase on the seafood imports from China to the U.S. (Some products had existing tariffs before these were put into place.)
China is Alaska’s biggest market for seafood exports, and some of the fish that gets harvested here goes to China for reprocessing before getting imported back to the U.S. China is a growing domestic market, too, said Woodrow.
There was another tariff hike set for March 1 on goods from China to the U.S., but it was delayed, Reuters reported earlier this month. Most major Alaska seafood products have been subject to the tariffs, including frozen salmon, pollock, cod, crab and scallops. Some types of salmon and other products have been exempt.
The estimated volume of Alaska seafood exported to China fell by roughly 22 percent from 2017 to 2018, said Garrett Evridge, an economist with Anchorage consulting firm the McDowell Group. The estimated value also fell from about $980 million to about $780 million, or about 20 percent, he said. Those figures were based on trade data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
However, he said, there are several factors that contribute to that change, not just the tariff situation with China. Also at play is a lower pink salmon harvest last year, and a lower harvest for Pacific cod.
“A portion of that decline is likely causally related to the tariffs,” Evridge said. “It’s this messy picture that we’ve been struggling since this whole (tariff) issue started.”
A 20 percent change in volume and value in one year also “is not unprecedented,” he said.
Woodrow brought up the impact of the U.S.-China tariffs in a presentation to the Alaska Legislature’s House Fisheries Committee at the end of February. In the long term, the tariff on seafood imports from China to the U.S. “could slow U.S. consumption of our own seafood because prices could increase,” the presentation said. Companies may eventually look elsewhere for reprocessing, it said.
West Coast Waters Grow More Productive with Shift Toward Cooler Conditions
Northwest Fisheries Science Center/NOAA - March 19, 2019
The ocean off the West Coast is shifting from several years of unusually warm conditions, toward a cooler and more productive regime that may boost salmon returns and populations of other ocean predators, according to a new NOAA Fisheries report.
Scientists make surprising discoveries about salmon on Gulf of Alaska expedition
21 researchers from 5 countries studying survival of fish during their years in North Pacific
CBC News by Ryan Patrick Jones - March 19, 2019
A vessel carrying an international team of scientists docked in North Vancouver, B.C., on Monday after a five-week expedition to the Gulf of Alaska that could shed new light on the lives of salmon.
Labeling and Marketing
In a Well-Designed Study, MSC Finds Labeling Fraud Rates of Less Than 1%
SeafoodNews.com by John Sackton - March 19, 2019
Recently Oceana released a new part of their ongoing targeting of seafood mislabeling claiming that 20% of their samples failed a dna test to be the species they were being sold as. Oceana then extrapolate this to claim that “1 in every five fish tested was mislabeled’.
Today, the MSC released its own mislabeling report. The report also tested DNA against the species on the label, and the MSC found that less than 1% of its samples were mis-labeled.
Which is more representative of the overall state of seafood mislabeling. The MSC study is the largest and most comprehensive assessment of MSC-labelled products so far. The MSC worked with laboratories of the TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network and SASA’s (Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture) Wildlife DNA Forensic unit to employ DNA barcoding to identify the species in 1402 MSC-certified fish products from 18 countries.
They found that 1389 were labelled correctly and thirteen were not. This represents a total rate of less than 1% (0.92) species mislabeling.
The mislabeling that the MSC did find was in fresh and frozen pre-packed products and in restaurants, mainly in western Europe, with one case in the USA. All cases of mislabelling were identified in whitefish (cods, hakes, hoki) and flatfish products.
The Oceana study, by contrast was not based just on MSC products, but instead was specifically designed to target the products most likely to be mislabeled, such as snapper.
The net result is that both of these studies point towards mislabeling, but the overall prevalence of seafood products that show by DNA testing to be mislabeled is likely to be much closer to the MSC results than the Oceana results.
The reason is that most mislabeling does not occur at the wholesaler and importer level, but at the restaurant user level. Time and again, the testing of menu items shows that fish with names that may cover multiple species fail DNA barcode tests, and that restaurants are more likely to be in the position of having to cover a printed menu item with something different than those companies that pack and label products, who are also subject to legal penalties of selling mislabeled products to consumers.
“There is widespread concern over the vulnerability of seafood supply chains to deliberate species mislabeling and fraud. In the past, this has included some of the most loved species such as cod being substituted by farmed catfish, which can seriously undermine consumer trust and efforts to maintain sustainable fisheries,”said Jaco Barendse, Marine Stewardship Council and lead author on the paper.
The MSC said there are many reasons that mislabeling may occur. Unintentional mislabeling can result from misidentification of species when the fish is caught, mix-ups during processing, or ambiguities in product naming, such as the use of catchall trade names such as ‘snapper’ or ‘skate’.
Fraud, on the other hand, occurs when there is intentional substitution mainly for financial gain. This is typically when a higher value species is substituted with one of lower value. Fraud may also arise when species from unsustainable or illegal fisheries gain access to the market by passing them off as legally caught fish. While DNA testing can identify cases of species substitution, on its own it cannot confirm whether this was fraud. To do this it is necessary to trace the product’s movement back through the supply chain to identify the exact step where the issue occurred.
The MSC’s Chain of Custody certification requires that every distributor, processor, and retailer trading certified seafood has a documented traceback system that maintains separation between certified and non-certified seafood, and correctly identifies MSC certified products at every step.
For the thirteen mislabeled products, records were obtained from each company at each step in the supply chain. Trace-backs revealed that only two mislabeled samples could be confirmed as intentional substitutions with species of non-certified origin.
MSC-certified products can command higher prices and better market access than non-certified products therefore these substitutions were likely to be fraudulent. Those responsible for the substitutions had their MSC certificates suspended.
There were other instances where substitutions inadvertently occurred at the point of capture or during onboard processing - likely due to misidentification between closely related, similar-looking species that co-occur in the catch. There was no discernible financial motive.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Sablefish Managed Under the Individual Fishing Quota Program
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 03/19/2019
NMFS is opening directed fishing for sablefish with fixed gear managed under the Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program and the Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. The season will open 1200 hours, Alaska local time (A.l.t.), March 15, 2019, and will close 1200 hours, A.l.t., November 14, 2019. This period is the same as the 2019 commercial halibut fishery opening dates adopted by the International Pacific Halibut Commission. The IFQ and CDQ halibut season is specified by a separate publication in the Federal Register of annual management measures.
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