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Fish Factor: Bristol Bay harvest impacts salmon prices elsewhere

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With so many salmon fisheries occurring throughout Alaska annually, why is there all the time a lot hoopla about Bristol Bay?

It could be summed up in a single phrase: sockeye.

“The sockeye resource at Bristol bay is unique because of its size,” stated Andy Wink, senior seafood analyst on the Juneau-based McDowell Group. “Typically, it’s 35 to 40 percent of the global sockeye supply, and it is a huge chunk of Alaska’s overall salmon value.   Preliminary data for 2016 show about 38 percent of Alaska’s total salmon value came out of Bristol Bay, and even more if you add in the Alaska Peninsula.”

The measurement of the Bay harvest additionally means it has a huge impact on salmon prices elsewhere.

“In 2015, when the base price was 50 cents at Bristol Bay and they had a large harvest, coho prices come way down and sockeye in other areas came down quite a bit too,” Wink defined. “It’s a market moving fishery is the best way to describe it, and that is why it affects so many other Alaska fishermen even if they don’t fish in the Bay.”

But that’s the place an issue arises.

About 44 % of Bristol Bay’s roughly 1,600 lively driftnet allow holders don’t chill their fish.

“That has big ramifications for the overall value of the resource. How much of that value is being left on the table by not chilling?” he requested.

Major processors have put the fleet on discover that they gained’t purchase from “dry boats” beginning in 2018. That’s as a result of an enormous shift over a number of years within the merchandise being despatched to markets.

The bulk of the Bay sockeye this yr was flown out recent, both in headed and gutted type (H&G) or as fillets, and never put into decrease worth cans.  Two many years in the past, as much as 75 % of the Bristol Bay sockeye catch was canned; right now, it’s nearer to 25 %.

“The growth in the Bristol Bay fishery is coming out of fillets and H&G, particularly in the domestic market. But to capitalize on that, the fishery and the processors really need to deliver a quality product,” Wink stated. “It bears repeating – the fishermen who close that chilling gap will be the ones who are going to be taken care of more by the processors, because that’s who is feeding their growth.”

Improving fish high quality is the mission of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, a non-profit operated for 12 years by drift fishermen and funded by a one % tax on their catches.

“Lots of people would love to refrigerate, but feel their vessel isn’t worth the investment, and the cost for a new vessel is pushing $400,000,” stated Mike Friccero of Kodiak, BBRSDA president and 35-year Bay veteran. “The fleet is aging and some guys don’t see the long term pay back for that big investment. So a lot of people are still sitting on the fence.”

The starting value for a refrigerated sea water (RSW) system is $30,000 and set up additionally requires hydraulic overhauls, fish maintain modifications and different renovations.

“It’s like saying what’s the cost of remodeling your kitchen. My answer is it depends on who you’re married to,” Friccero stated with amusing.

He added that 35 Bay boats have been shipped to Seattle for renovations this yr, doubtless for including refrigeration and associated enhancements.

“It’s very hard to get that work done in Bristol Bay and people are building warehouses for anticipated boat improvements to do indoors in the winter,” Friccero stated.

In the long term, he believes it’s all value it.

“The premium for chilling and good handling is as much as 25 cents a pound,” Friccero stated. “I think the tide is changing and we are trying to find ways to get traction to make a difference with better fish quality. It’s part of our mission statement and it’s the most important thing we have.”

The preliminary ex-vessel (dockside) worth of Bristol Bay sockeye elevated 66 % in 2016 to greater than $153 million as a result of a worth improve and powerful harvest.

Find the newest sockeye salmon market report on the BBRSDA house web page.


Pot safety

Gulf of Alaska longliners concentrating on sablefish (black cod) will get safety from hook-robbing whales by with the ability to fish with pots beginning subsequent yr.

Pots strung collectively on longlines have been used within the Bering Sea to guard sablefish catches from killer whales since 2008.  An evaluation by North Pacific Fishery Management Council employees in 2013 confirmed that when killer whales have been current when gear was retrieved in the course of the annual inventory survey, the whales eliminated 54 to 72 % of the sablefish from hooks.

At prices starting from $four to greater than $9 a pound, relying on fish measurement, “getting whaled” provides as much as a nasty pay day for fishermen.

“A study in the Western Gulf and Bering Sea on six vessels a few years ago estimated an additional $980 per vessel day for additional fuel, food and costs for lost time because of sablefish loss. Estimated fuel costs associated with those sets were 82 percent higher,” stated Rachel Baker, a fisheries administration specialist at NOAA Fisheries in Juneau.

Total estimated sablefish catch removals by killer whales throughout 1995-2016 ranged from 1,235 tons to 2,450 tons in western Alaska areas, based on Council paperwork.

Killer whale depredation was extra extreme (catch charges declined by 45 percent-70 %) than sperm whale depredation (the decline was 24 percent-29 %).

It’s sperm whales which might be the sablefish pirates within the Gulf, the place an estimated 651 tons to 1,204 tons of sablefish have taken between from 2001-2016.

The new gear can be utilized all through the Gulf, with some added protections to stop conflicts between pots and longlines within the Eastern portion.

“In the Southeast area, anyone using longline pot gear for sablefish will have to remove all of their gear from the fishing grounds when they go in to make a landing,” Baker stated.

The sablefish and halibut fisheries happen on the similar time and lots of longliners maintain quota shares of every. In that case, Baker stated fishermen catching authorized sized halibut in pots can retain it.

“As long as they have sufficient shares of the catch, they are required to keep that halibut,” Baker defined. “The Council thought it was an important concept from a management perspective to reduce discards and promote efficiency in fishing.”

Many fishermen who need to change to pot gear will probably be stymied by the fee. Buying pots and making the required vessel conversions might value as a lot as $100,000.

“So we›re likely to have limited numbers of fishermen switching to pot gear right away and possibly even down the road,” Baker stated. “In fact, most sablefish fishermen in the Gulf are likely to continue to use hook-and-line gear due to the costs and the infeasibility of using pot gear on smaller vessels.”

The new guidelines go into impact subsequent March and can be reviewed absolutely after three years.


Seafood Symphony! 

The name is out for merchandise for the 24th annual Alaska Symphony of Seafood competitors which showcases new gadgets comprised of Alaska seafood.

Products might be entered into certainly one of 4 classes: retail/smoked, foodservice, Beyond the Plate (byproducts) and Beyond the Egg. Entries are individually evaluated by a panel of judges and prime winners obtain a free journey to Seafood Expo North America in Boston.

Symphony bashes the place the general public can pattern the brand new merchandise and choose a People’s Choice Award are set for Jan. 25 in Seattle and Feb. 22 in Juneau. The fashionable Anchorage occasion has been canceled because of finances cuts, stated Julie Decker, government director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, host of the occasion.

Deadline to submit merchandise is Jan. 6, 2017.

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