Bizarre salmon season winds down short of state projections
Alaska Journal of Commerce by Elizabeth Earl - September 9, 2020
On top all the other effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been a strange year for Alaska’s commercial salmon fisheries.
'An insult to the process': Alaskans voice opposition to fish board appointments
National Fishermen by Laine Welch - September 8, 2020
Hundreds of Alaskans gave legislators an earful at recent hearings on controversial appointees to the Board of Fisheries, which oversees management of the state’s subsistence, commercial, sport and personal-use fisheries.
Labor Day Weekend in Alaska Means Switch Gear, Keep Fishing and Processing Salmon
SeafoodNews.com by Peggy Parker - September 8, 2020
Alaska’s salmon processors and fishermen are still at it, and their labors are inching the 2020 season’s final totals up in a tally where more is always good.
More than 110 million salmon have been landed as of yesterday statewide. Fishing was good for coho in Prince William Sound and Kodiak, keta (chum) in Southeast, pinks in Kodiak and Cook Inlet, and Chinook in Southeast in the last week. Gains from here on out have historically been less than two million fish.
Coho landings on the Copper River and Bering River were swinging up last week, showing more fish delivered that week than in historical averages. A total of 206,000 cohos have been landed so far in those two rivers and Prince William Sound. With the increased numbers from last week, the year-on-year comparison went from being 73% of last year’s landings on the same date to as of last Sunday to be 58% of 2019’s same date cumulative total.
Coho escapement in the Copper and Bering Rivers has been good, with August escapement numbers falling within the range fish managers had to forecast. Fishing is ongoing for coho (silvers) this week.
Other increases in the last ten days include the spectacular run of pinks in Kodiak, which as of last Sunday, posted 21.2 million salmon, or 258% above 2018 YTD totals. In terms of percent increase over the 2018 season, though, the Alaska Peninsula continues to hold the top spot. The season is all but closed there, but their total is 424% higher than at this time in 2018.
Total pink salmon landings in the state are now 56.6 million, 93.4% of the pre-season forecast of 60.6 million.
Keta (chum) salmon were late in some areas, but not enough to make up for the severely low landings versus both predictions and last year’s landings. In the last ten days, Southeast has narrowed the gap with another almost million keta caught. Statewide landings of keta salmon are at 6.33 million salmon, compared to a pre-season forecast of 19.4 million. In all districts, keta failed to show as expected, resulting in statewide harvests being down 68% from last year’s landings at this time.
ADF&G’s total landings statewide for Chinook are now 227,000 salmon, including the winter troll fishery’s production. That is about 65% of pre-season predictions and about 20% less than last year’s landings. Looking at the summer Chinook season alone, the harvest of about 208,000 Chinook this summer is 19% behind 2019. Improved fishing in Southeast brings the region 9% ahead of last year.
Approximately 500 million pounds of salmon have been landed this season (based on historical average fish weights), reports economist Garrett Evridge in the weekly report from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
“Sockeye have contributed 48% of the total, followed by pinks with 40%. Keta accounts for about 10% with coho and Chinook contributing less than 3% of the total,” Evridge notes.
“About 90,000 sockeye were harvested last week with nearly all volume coming from Kodiak and the AK Peninsula and Aleutian Islands region. Few additional sockeye are expected this season. The statewide total of 45 million fish is nearly on par with the 10-year average but about 15% below the 5-year average.
The YTD pink harvest totals 56 million fish, including last week’s catch of nearly a million fish from Kodiak and PWS. About 17 million more pink salmon have been harvested in 2020 compared to 2018, or about 60 million pounds.
Keta and coho landings are 66% and 52% behind the 5-year average, respectively.
Coronavirus and Food: Media Continues to Bury the Lead
NFI Media - September 8, 2020
Global health organizations continue to find there is no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with the transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
Press Release: USDA Supports U.S. Seafood Industry Impacted by Retaliatory Tariffs
USDA Press - September 9, 2020
(Washington, D.C., September 9, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will provide approximately $530 million to support the U.S. seafood industry and fishermen impacted by retaliatory tariffs from foreign governments. The funding will be provided through the Seafood Trade Relief Program and funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), administered by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA).
King Crab Finds Success At Retail
SeafoodNews.com by Les Hodges with Hiroshi-Ohnuma - September 8, 2020
As we move into fall we find some of the most important king crab fisheries. The Russian Far East, Barents Sea, and then the Alaska Red king crab seasons. Russia will be harvesting over 26,000 M/t and supplying the Asia live market as well as the processed markets in Japan, Asia, and the U.S. The Alaska quota has not yet been set, but will be small in comparison and sell to premium foodservice and retail outlets in Asia and the U.S.
With the closure or curtailment of most food service operations and on line ordering, seafood marketers this year have been challenged to find other ways to move the product. Not many carryout restaurants serve king crab or snow crab so retail is the market of choice. The level of support at retail supermarkets and club stores for king crab and snow crab has been remarkable. Product flew through the system and we found that 69,268,393 lbs of Canadian snow crab alone was imported during the three month period of May through July! King crab volumes of course are much lower but also gained significant support from retail.
Prices of crab increased again in August according to pricing guides as inventories tighten up on a number of items and sizes of both king crab and snow crab. Product is coming but replacement cost is higher and and the markets are dry.
Production by Area:
As of August 30, the SSD report showed a drop in vessels with only 29 processors on the grounds. 13 processors were fishing Opilio with 10 for the live market and 4 for cooked. Ten vessels were processing cooked Golden king crab and 4 on Hanaski king crab for the live market. Rounding it out are 4 vessels on deep water snow crab all for the cooked market.
The Far East Red king crab began September 1 with a quota of 16,305 M/t (35.946mm lbs.). With the markets dry in Asia and the U.S. buyers are lining up to secure product in all forms - cooked, raw, and live. The return to the companies on live Red king crab is much higher than cooked or raw and about half of the TAC should move to the Asia live market if the harvesters can overcome new government inspection regulations which would delay shipments and possibly cause dead loss.
If the live market moves as anticipated that should leave about 5,000 M/t (11mm lbs) of Russian Far East Red king crab in section form for Japan,the Asia markets, and the U.S. market. The quota in the Barents Sea is 9,940 M/t which should result in about 6,000 M/t (13.8mm lbs) of sections. For the first time the major Barents Sea producer will not have 100% of the quota as another company purchased 20% of the Red king crab and Opilio snow crab quota at the Auction last fall. The Barents Sea snow crab fishery has been underway and according to customs data over 1mm lbs. of Barents Sea snow crab were delivered to the U.S. market in August.
Live Red king crab exports through July were similar to the same period as 2019 with 470 M/t being exported in 2020 vs 494 M/t in 2019. Average price in 2020 is up 11% to $35.87/kg. The largest market remains Korea with 245 M/t in the first 6 months followed by the U.S. at 65 M/t and Vietnam 38 M/t. Frozen Red king crab exports were down 60% vs 2019 to only 139 M/t with the price up to $44.47/kg. The primary market continues to be the EU. Frozen Opilio exports are also down through June at 959 M/t. vs 1,421 M/t in 2019. Price was up 8% to $16.05/kg. Exports are mainly to Denmark, U.S. , and Korea. (Norwegian Seafood Council data).
Alaska Crab Plan Team is scheduled to review the stock assessments and other science for Bristol Bay red king crab, bairdi, and Opilio snow crab this month. Usually they use the summer surveys which were canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The stock assessment is used to set the annual Total Allowable Catches, or TACs. In 2019 the TAC and harvest was 3.8 mm lbs. on king crab and 34mm lbs. on snow crab. It is anticipated that there will be an opening on October 15 for Red king crab although with a reduced quota.
The Golden king crab 2020 season opened August 1 with the TAC reduced by 15% due to the inability to do a proper survey due to coronavirus. Alaska Dungeness Season in South East began on June 15 and is progressing. As usual, the quality and size of the Alaskan Dungeness is excellent. It is estimated that the catch will be 4.3 mm lbs. in 2020.
The Canadian snow crab season is complete with all areas except the Gulf harvesting the total TAC. The Gulf area ended up at 89.4%.
Retail supermarkets continued to promote snow crab during the summer due to the packers aggressive pricing in 2020. The early marketing decision to enter the U.S. market with feature pricing to generate retail support in light of the coronavirus was successful.
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