Alaska salmon permit trade sluggish amid high prices, uncertainties
Seafood Source by Brian Hagenbuch - December 18, 2019
Trade on permits in Alaska’s salmon fisheries has been generally sluggish, as high prices in booming fisheries, warming waters, and market uncertainties are giving fishermen pause.
Tongass: Where your bread is buttered
National Fisherman by Lance Preston - December 17, 2019
Take it from me, a happy, successful salmon troller fishing Southeast Alaska for the last 27 years: If you like catching salmon in the North Pacific, especially if you make a living doing it, don’t let people mess around with the Roadless Rule protecting the Tongass National Forest. Lifting the Roadless Rule is plainly against your interests.
The Tongass makes a lot of salmon, to the tune of 50 million salmon a year — 80 percent of all caught in Southeast Alaska and 25 percent of all caught on the entire West Coast! You’re the fisherman reliant on world class salmon habitat to make buck. Know where your bread is buttered.
Toast to the Coast fundraiser helps feed Anchorage
KTVA - December 2019
Young’s unveils bites made from scampi, Alaska pollock
SeafoodSource by Christine Blank - December 18, 2019
Young’s Foodservice has launched Popcorn Scampi Bites, made with sustainable, hand-peeled scampi from Great Britain and Ireland, along with wild Alaska pollock.
Alaska Marine Science Symposium
Fishermen's News - December 18, 2019
Alaska’s premier marine research conference, the Alaska Marine Science Symposium, will be held Jan 27-31 in Anchorage, Alaska, at the Hotel Captain Cook. Several hundred scientists, educators and other participants will gather to hear reports on marine research.
The Winding Glass: As the Decade Ends, What Battles Will The Industry Face In The Next 10 Years
SeafoodNews by John Sackton - December 18, 2019
[The Winding Glass is a commentary/opinion column written by SeafoodNews Founder John Sackton.]
New Year’s day 2020 offers a good chance to think about how the next 10 years may be different for the seafood industry.
If you think back to where we were in 2010, it is quite different than where we are today.
Ten years ago, certification was still controversial. The MSC was about to decertify Alaska salmon. Retailers were facing a multiplicity of certifications and ratings, and the shrimp industry with BAP and the tuna industry with International Seafood Sustainability Foundation both jumped out ahead of the curve.
Now, certifications are part of doing business, and GSSI has rationalized seafood certification requirements so that multiple credible certifications are used by socially responsible seafood sellers.
Ten years ago we were fighting the misconceptions about overfishing, and trying to make the case that fishery management worked. Over the decade, this point was accepted, so that the path to a certified fishery was clearly laid out, and the types of enforcement and fish population management required for sustainability became well known.
On trade, 10 years ago, China was seen as an export powerhouse. I remember at the GAA meeting in Malaysia that it was controversial to point out that in the near future, China would be importing more seafood than it exported. The domestic consumption component of those imports was very small. At the China Seafood Expo this year those overseas companies seeking to sell into the domestic market far outnumber those looking for export supplies out of China.
Finally, the seafood and health message continued to resonate. More and more science supported the fact that eating seafood is healthy, reducing heart disease, and that eating seafood during pregnancy improved outcomes including the mental abilities and overall health of children. Demand for many seafood items has run up against supply constraints.
What will things be like for us in 2030? Many of the battles we are consumed with now will look nostalgic, as the nature of the industry is likely to change under our feet.
Many seafood brokers have said at one time or another that their job is to sell dead fish. This may not mean the same thing 10 years from now.
The most consequential issue we are facing is climate change. Fish populations don't give a damn about the politics of global warming. When ocean conditions change, they leave, change themselves or decline.
We are seeing this around the world. Halibut and haddock have become significantly smaller over the past 10 years in both Alaska and the Northwest Atlantic. Today it takes more fish to make up the same tonnage, and as a result, the total landings are down.
We have seen a lobster boom as conditions led to a number of years of strong reproduction, but with the species moving north. Now, the lobster population in the Gulf of Maine and SW Nova may be running out of room to move, being pushed into less favorable habitat that may end our long term record production, and push populations in both the US and Canada down again.
This fall, the NPFMC closed directed cod fishing in the Gulf of Alaska, which will have long term impacts on communities like Kodiak. Salmon fishing is getting more dicey as king salmon returns seem increasingly erratic, and there is a movement of salmon to more northern waters. There are pinks in the Arctic Ocean now.
Aquaculture production is also impacted by climate change, whether it is due to more algae blooms in Chile, more variation in water temperature and oxygen in Canada that leads to die-offs both from too warm and too cold temperatures, or hot and rainy weather that stunts shrimp growth.
We are likely facing a decline in the total amount of seafood we can produce from traditional aquaculture and capture fisheries, and this will be evident ten years from now.
But the growth of ‘seafood’ demand means that there will be openings for new types of seafood.
By the end of the decade, we will know whether salmon has been transformed by genetic engineering and RAS indoor systems to become a more chicken-like product. Once these systems have proved themselves successful and price competitive, there will be relentless pressure to reduce cost that will mean a hybrid type industry will be less and less likely to survive in its current form.
Fake fish and shellfish, based on engineered vegetable proteins, will likely be taking a bigger share of the ‘seafood’ market. Use of seaweeds, marine algae, and bioengineering, similar to how Impossible Beef but a hemoglobin gene into a bacteria, will enable these foods to mimic some of the most sought after properties of seafood. These include taste, texture, and health benefits.
Again, the question will focus on costs. If these products become cost-competitive, the industry will be fighting a losing battle over shelf space and consumer acceptance; largely due to the fact that more people will want to eat ‘seafood products’ than our own industry can provide at a competitive price.
We can’t continue to be wedded to the wild seafood ideal and expect no one to challenge us. Look what happened to natural fillets. We went from a time when most whitefish fillets were sold without massaging and added water, to a time when most whitefish by volume is now treated. The driver was cost reduction to meet consumer price points.
Most of the vegetable products now consumed in the US are engineered or developed far beyond their ‘natural’ or wild state, whether through patented breeding programs or use of genetically modified forms or with new inputs like pest control chemicals. When this level of technological innovation is applied to both farmed and wild seafood, the result will be a wave of competitive engineered or patented products that gain market share due to lower costs of production.
In terms of ocean uses, we will need to get used to energy production, and possibly large scale seaweed and algae production, taking up space in the ocean. Mandated changes in the US energy grid due to evolution away from fossil fuels means that fish and fisheries will become an outlier in ocean uses. This may be a longer-term change, but over the next decade, I suspect that wind energy will gain priority and importance, as wild harvest seafood recedes, simply because the total dollar values will become so unequal.
This means that many of our fights today, over allocations, fish management, and access may become less significant ten years from now as those who produce seafood face a landscape where competition from other areas such as vegetable protein or other ocean uses makes our own footprint and contribution relatively less important.
There are many opportunities in seafood over the next ten years. The current high level of interest by investors is proof of this. Vessels are being built and redesigned. Improved farming and genetics technology is boosting aquaculture yields and output. The demand for quota share and to purchase the ability to dominate the supply of scarce seafood items is higher than ever.
But at the same time, costs of quota and management are going up. Increasingly, those who hold quota are forced to take on the costs of their own management, whether it be in terms of bycatch reduction, research for stock analysis, or of lobbying to protect access.
The future of our industry can be bright, but it can also be small and specialized. We will always have artisanal and small scale fisheries. But for the industry as a whole, the coming tide of ‘seafood’ innovation will not be lifting all boats. That is our new reality and it represents something quite different than our collective focus on increasing supply that has dominated our thinking for the past 20 years. The new question may be which seafood supplies are cost-effective enough to be worth fighting for.
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