Wednesday, March 25, 2020

NOAA Fisheries Emergency Action Waives Some Observer Coverage

Federal fisheries officials responding to concerns voiced by longline halibut and black cod fishermen in Alaska have issued an emergency action providing authority, on a case by case basis, to waive observer coverage in some instances. The emergency action also waive some training and other program requirements while meeting conservation needs and providing an ongoing supply of fish to markets.

The emergency action is being taken for the stated purpose of protecting public health and to ensure the safety of fishermen, observers and others, according to NOAA Fisheries officials. The emergency action applies, however, only in three circumstances. These include:

• When the provider of observers does not have sufficient observers to staff a fleet, such as if the observers are under quarantine;

• When providers cannot physically get observers to fishing vessel departure points, perhaps because of travel restrictions or shelter in place guidance; or

• When providers don’t have enough trained observers because NOAA could not offer training due to building access restrictions or other limitations.

Alternative fishery management measures will be considered should such circumstances arise.

Concerns over putting observers on smaller vessels in the halibut and black cod fisheries arose because of lack of space allowing for adherence to precaution guidelines issued because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. The problem with NOAA’s emergency action guidelines, said veteran halibut fisherman Dan Falvey of Sitka, Alaska, is that the waiver requests must come from the observer provider.

“You generally need electronic monitoring and observers to provide complete at-sea data, but in this emergency (the pandemic) it is prudent to not employ observers on boats where they don’t have separate bunk space or eating facilities,” he said. “The small boat fleet should receive a waiver.”

Falvey also noted that one of the mandates issued this week by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy requires quarantine when individuals first reach the state, but it doesn’t prevent the observers from traveling from community to community once they reach the state.

There are enough vessels with EM on board so that this year it would be prudent to waive observers unless the vessels chosen to carry observers can be provided with separate eating and sleeping facilities, he commented.

Processors Plan for a Complicated Season

Seafood processors preparing for robust wild Alaska salmon fisheries, which begin in May, are taking special precautions to assure the safety of people and their harvest in a season where a novel coronavirus pandemic is making life complicated.

Ocean Beauty Seafoods, for one, has advised its fleet they are taking some specific actions because of the pandemic that has sickened people worldwide and caused a number of deaths. Those precautionary steps include creation of a virus working group and a travel policy to reduce exposure.

Ocean Beauty has implemented a post travel self-quarantine, developed an enhanced sanitation program and is distributing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to all employees and customers. Ocean Beauty is also communicating with all its customers to ensure that they understand that the processor is working to guarantee that they can provide an uninterrupted flow of product to them.

“We have been in business since 1910 and have never missed a salmon season in time of war, pandemic or for any other reason,” Ocean Beauty President Mark Palmer assured harvesters. “The salmon business is our core business and is in our DNA.” Palmer also noted that the company is currently operating at high capacity at its Kodiak facility on bottom fish and so far has been able to address any concerns as they have arisen.

“We very much look forward to providing a great salmon market for you and your crews,” Palmer wrote in a memo to the fishermen.

NPFMC to Plan June Meeting

Members of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) are now planning to meet during the second week of April to decide on a revised agenda for their June meeting in Juneau, Alaska, following the cancellation of their April meeting in Anchorage, Alaska due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Dave Witherell, executive director of the federal fisheries council, said he received numerous calls and emails from the council family and public expressing appreciation for the decision to cancel the Anchorage meeting.

Witherell said the council’s community engagement and individual fishing quota committees would meet again when they can reconvene in person. The Crab Plan Team meeting is set for May 4–8 in Juneau, but may be remote only. The Climate Change taskforce is tentatively scheduled to meet via teleconference on May 18. while the Fishery Monitoring Advisory committee is planning to meet on May 18–19 and the trawl electronic monitoring committee will get together via teleconference on May 20.Other committee and plan team meeting are still in the process of being scheduled.

Witherell said council leadership would also decide then whether or not to hold the June meeting in person or remotely, and consider how to take public committee, should the meeting be held remotely. Several items at a minimum that will require timely council action were identified as final action of the St. Matthew blue king crab rebuilding plan, the scallop OFL/ABC (overfishing level/allowable biological catch; Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands crab specs and presumably the Cook Inlet salmon preliminary review.

Witherell said staff is exploring different possibilities for holding a remote meeting by teleconference, Webex or video conference platforms.

Council staff are also continuing to work on analyses and discussion papers listed for the April and June meeting agendas and working to address all tasks listed on the three-meeting outlook. As these documents are completed, they are to be set aside and not posted publicly until they are put on a council meeting agenda to avoid confusion, Witherell said.

On the plus side, he said, some analyses will be posted to a meeting agenda well before the normal posting date. Most council staff are teleworking and all may be as the coronavirus continues to spread in Anchorage. As of Tuesday, March 24, there were a total of 36 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 in Alaska, including 17 in the Anchorage area, seven at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. All were adults and according to state medical officials, none were hospitalized.

Extended Deadline Requested for Final Pebble EIS

Commercial fishermen and other leaders of the Bristol Bay region are asking the US Army Corps of Engineers to formally relax the timeline for development of their final environmental impact statement (EIS) and extend the deadline for cooperating agencies to comment on the preliminary final EIS.

Given the major disruptions caused all across the nation as a result of the novel coronavirus, everyone’s immediate attention is focused, as it should be, on stemming its spread, the five Bristol Bay leaders told Colonel Phillip Borders, the district commander for the USACE at Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.

Nevertheless, they said, there is also the reality for their other ongoing work, including the National Environmental Policy Act evaluation of the project. “With requirements for social distancing, offices shut down or minimally staffed, the challenges of teleworking and because the impacts of the COVID-19 virus will last for an uncertain amount of time, extensions of the timeline and preliminary final environmental impact statement comment deadline are necessary,” they said.

The letter was signed by Andy Wink, executive director of Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association; Katherine Carscallen, executive director of Commercial Fishermen for Bristol Bay; Norm Van Vactor, president and chief executive officer of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp.; Jason Metrokin, president and chief executive officer of Bristol Bay Native Corp.; Ralph Andersen, president and chief executive officer of Bristol Bay Native Association; Robert Heyano, president of United Tribes of Bristol Bay; and Robert Kehoe executive director of the Bristol Bay Reserve.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Seafood Industry Addresses Coronavirus

Alaska seafood industry officials say they have implemented a number of protocols and a communications framework to continue to assess risks and implement best practices to deal with the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus. The virus has now reached all 50 of the United States, and Washington State has been particularly hard hit. To date six people in Alaska have tested positive for the virus.

Seafood industry officials in Alaska say they are optimistic that continued planning with local, state and federal partners and continued proactive risk management will allow them to keep their workforce and communities healthy and assure safe harvest and processing of millions of pounds of wild Alaska seafood.

Since the earliest days of the COVID-19 threat, companies have been working to minimize the impact of this public health threat on Alaska fishing communities, fishing crews and processing workers. They said that they have formed a layered, robust prevention and response network and ongoing development of industry best practices focused exclusively on challenges relating to the virus.

The industry is working with public health and safety officials from Alaska and Washington State, the CDC and the US Coast Guard in its prevention and response effort. They are also adopting screening and monitoring plans in conjunction with maritime health doctors to prevent anyone with a risk profile from traveling to these communities and preventing sick crew members from being placed in plants or on vessels. The network also includes planning with local officials in Unalaska, the nation’s biggest seafood port by volume, and intends to expand planning with other remote communities, to ensure prevention efforts are well developed and any needed responses are coordinated for potential incidents, they said.

The Centers for Disease Control has stated that there is no risk of contracting COVID-19 from any food, including seafood, and that food safety is of the utmost priority for their industry.

COVID-19 Prompts Postponement, Cancellation of Fisheries Meetings

Concerns over the spread of the coronavirus has prompted postponement or cancellation of fisheries meetings in Alaska, Washington and Oregon, including the 41st staging of ComFish Alaska, an annual trade show and forum for the fishing industry.

The Kodiak Chamber of Commerce ComFish Committee has postponed the three-day show scheduled for March 25 to 27. The chamber announced its revised ComFish plans this past week, saying they would welcome all their exhibitors, speakers and attendees to the convention center in September.

Still on the schedule will be the first ever fisheries-themed fashion show, hosted in conjunction with the Kodiak Arts Council, as well as the annual rockfish taco feed, public receptions, processor recognition events and Fishermen’s Showcase. ComFish forums include presentations and discussions on a range of topics from policy, technology and scientific issues to environmental and political matters.

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The pandemic has also prompted cancellation of the April meeting of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage, Alaska, where final action was to be taken on a rebuilding plan for St. Matthew blue king crab. The council’s next scheduled meeting, June 1–9, will be in Juneau, Alaska. The council is expected to announce a revised schedule for that meeting.

The April 4–10 meeting of the Pacific Fishery Management Council, scheduled for Vancouver, Wash., will be conducted as a webinar only. Most of the scheduled ancillary advisory body meetings will also be by webinar only. In Salem, Ore., the Fish and Wildlife Commission has cancelled its public meeting set for March 20 because of concerns over COVID-19. ODFW Director Curt Melcher said the commission wants to keep its employees, the public and commissioners safe and plans to reschedule that meeting.

Alaska Board of Fisheries Reaches Norton Sound Crab Decision

The Alaska Board of Fisheries which met in Anchorage, Alaska in March, approved three proposals from the Northern Norton Sound Advisory Committee.

They voted 6–1 to change the start of the winter commercial crab fishery for Norton Sound from Jan 15 to Feb. 1. The proposal was amended to also close the commercial crab season east of 167 degrees west longitude for 2020. The closure goes into effect for the upcoming summer commercial crab season.

A second proposal to limit the number of crab pot tags per permit holder in the winter commercial fishery was approved by a vote of 7–0. Commercial permit holders in the winter through the ice commercial crab fishery will not be able to receive replacement tags for any crab pots lost after 20 crab pot tags are issued. The advisory committee told the fisheries board that when pots were more expensive in comparison to the catch in times of lower price the harvesters were more cautious in pot placement and tending, so pot loss was much less.

A third proposal, also approved 7–0, will allow a person or vessel to participate in the Norton Sound red king crab fishery after operating commercial Pacific cod pots in the Norton Sound Section within 14 days prior to the start of the Norton Sound red king crab fishery. That proposal was amended to allow a person or vessel to operate pots up to seven days prior to the Norton Sound red king crab fishery. The proposal contended that fishing for Pacific cod in pots offered a new opportunity and that the 14-day closure before the Norton Sound red king crab fishery was a significant amount of available fishing time.

No Herring or Herring Spawn Yet in Sitka Sound

Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) officials in Sitka, Alaska say their latest three aerial surveys for the Sitka Sound sac roe fishery have observed no herring or herring spawn. Meanwhile, the highest concentration of herring predators was observed between Bieli Rock, Inner Point and Hayward Strait, with numerous whales working the deeper waters north and west of Bieli Rock and some 250 sea lions in several large groups holding off the rock piles.

Predator numbers are normal for this time of year, state fisheries biologists said.

State biologists at Sitka noted in late February that odds of a Sitka Sound sac roe fishery were slim due to a forecast that indicated most of this year’s herring were unlikely to meet market standards of an average weight of 110 or more grams and roe recovery of 11 percent or better.

Interest also continues to lag for the Togiak herring sac roe and spawn-on-kelp fishery. ADF&G biologist set the 2020 potential harvest for all herring fisheries at 43,165 tons, including 38,749 tons in the Togiak sac roe purse seine and gillnet fisheries, but market interest has declined.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

2020 High Seas Expedition is Off to Gulf of Alaska

A second international expedition with scientists from Canada, the United States and Russia is departing from Victoria, British Columbia today, March 11, to conduct research on winter salmon ecology in the Gulf of Alaska. Twelve scientists will be aboard the Canadian charter vessel Pacific Legacy following a media event send-off to include remarks from expedition organizers Richard Beamish and Brian Riddell.

The expedition is part of the International Year of the Salmon, a project launched by the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization and other partners. The International Year of the Salmon project began in 2019 and will continue through 2022.

The 2019 expedition was the first in decades to study salmon on the high seas. The vessel carried 21 scientists from five Pacific Rim countries, Japan, Korea, Russia, the United states and Canada. Their voyage began in February, with the ship scheduled to visit 72 stations in the Gulf and returned to Vancouver on March 18. Researchers made multiple discoveries that are now helping fishery managers to be more effective stewards of Pacific salmon.

The $1.2 million project was jointly funded by government, industry, non-government organizations and private contributions.

Alaska Rejects New PWS Crab Fishery

A proposal aimed at developing a harvest strategy to reintroduce a golden king crab fishery in Prince William Sound was rejected on Tuesday, March 10 during the Alaska Board of Fisheries statewide king and tanner crab meeting in Anchorage, Alaska.

Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU) had sought to reintroduce the fishery for the northern and western districts of Prince William Sound. Their proposal argued that the golden king crab fishery had been closed for more than 30 years, yet the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had not conducted a survey to assess stocks since 2006 and is not working on a harvest strategy.

Meanwhile, according to CDFU, fishermen participating in the Prince William Sound Tanner crab fishery are reporting very high levels of king crab – more than 80 in some pots – and are not able to retain any of them under the current commissioner’s permit.

In other action, the board approved an Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) proposal to allow for gear transfers in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands individual fishing quota crab fisheries management plan to be authorized by electronic mail. ADF&G said it supported gear transfers because it reduced the frequency of rail dumping, which lowered handling and bycatch mortality of crab at the season’s end. The state agency also said that allowing them to authorize gear transfers by email while the vessels are on the fishing grounds would increase both department and fleet flexibility and efficiency.

The meeting continues through today, Wednesday, March 11.

Pacific Cod Are Losing MSC Certification

Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska were earmarked to lose certification from the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) on April 5 but remained certified as sustainable under the Alaska Seafood Management Institute’s Responsible Fisheries Management program.

MRAG Americas Inc., an independent auditing and certification body for the MSC standard, said the suspension was based on a recent review of new information regarding stock assessment in the Gulf of Alaska provided by NOAA fisheries. According to MRAG Americas, “this suspension is not due to overfishing or a lack of a responsible management response, rather, the depressed stocks of Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska below B20 percent limit is climate driven and caused by the Gulf of Alaska marine heat wave.”

Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod stocks have declined since 2017 due to effects of an anomalous warm water event in 2014–2016. The marine heat wave reduced food availability for cod and dramatically increased natural mortality. Federal and state fishery managers acted to severely restrict commercial fishing effort in response to the uncertainty of the ecosystem. In 2018 and 2019, harvests in the Gulf were reduced by 80 percent to maintain the future viability of the fishery. Then in 2020 commercial fishing was closed in the federal fishery in the Gulf and the small state fishery was further reduced, as fishery managers and fishermen were confident that such a response would allow for quick recovery of stocks.

Most Alaska’s Pacific cod is harvested in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and remains MSC certified.

Under MSC standards, a fishery is suspended if it failed to meet the minimum scoring benchmark for any indicators, in this case 20 percent of the unfished biomass, known as B20%.

If the stock falls below B20% or does not have a 70 percent probability of being above this point, it no longer meets minimum MSX scoring benchmark for this indicator and is suspended. According to MSC the Gulf stock of Pacific cod in 2020 is estimated at B17% and consequently, as of April 5, the MSC certification for the Gulf was suspended.

Meanwhile ASMI’s RFM sustainability certification program, which is also an internationally accredited ecolabel for Alaska fisheries, remained intact. Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation officials said that after a normal annual audit is completed later this year, they anticipate that the RFM program will remain in place due to differences between MSC and RFM standards. Specifically, the RFM standard does not require an automatic suspension when fishery drops below B20%, rather it assesses the management responses as well, AFDF officials said that Pacific cod harvested in Alaska, even in the Gulf, can be sold after April 5 as RFM certified.

“As the client for the Alaska Pacific cod fishery, AFDF is disappointed that the MSC certificate in the GOA is being suspended, despite fishery managers taking responsible actions in the face of ocean conditions beyond their control,” said Julie Decker, executive director of AFDF. “We believe that responsible management should be rewarded and hope this unfortunate situation will be a catalyst for the MSC program to make changes to address future scenarios such as this.”

Cost of Lab Fees Could Put Geoduck Divers Out of Business

Restrictions imposed by China’s government to stem the spread of the coronavirus shut down markets for Alaska’s $4 million plus geoduck fishermen in 2020.Now harvesters are worried that proposed state of Alaska fees will shut them down forever. Under Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s budget, harvesters represented by the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Association (SARDFA) would have to pick up the cost of the federally approved state laboratory in Anchorage, Alaska, for testing for paralytic shellfish poisoning and other toxins starting in the fall of 2021, when the new budget goes into effect.

“In every other coastal state, and they all have shellfish industries, the state pays for everything (testing), said Phil Doherty, co-director of SARDFA. “We are the only state in the United States of 23 coastal states that puts the burden on commercial fishermen. The state of Alaska has paid the cost of PCP lab testing for the last 30 years. This would be the first time a user fee was imposed,” he said.

Geoducks are routinely shipped to and marketed live in saltwater tanks in Chinese markets and restaurants. The firm, salty meat is enjoyed raw in sushi, but when the coronavirus hit China in January the government closed down live markets, and cargo planes stopped going into China, leaving SARDFA harvesters with no place to sell their catch in 2020, Doherty explained.

“We started fishing in October every week and in January we closed down because China was closed down. We have not fished since the second week in January. By then harvesters had brought in 260,000 pounds of geoducks and if markets were available, they would have another 350,000 pounds left for this year’s harvest,” he said.

If and when the closure on markets and air cargo travel will be lifted remained an unknown, but meanwhile SARDFA was working with Alaska legislators in hopes of preventing the inclusion of legislation that would force them to pay the PSP testing fees.

SARDFA already assumes the $150,000 annual cost to collect samples through a 7 percent assessment tax on landings, plus about $20,000 for water quality testing required by the federal and state governments. SARDFA also tests geoducks for inorganic arsenic and then there is the overhead for the association itself, which adds up to over $250,000 a year, according to Doherty.

“In some years it exceeds the amount of the assessment tax,” he said. If Dunleavy’s proposed new user fee for the lab becomes law “we don’t have any more money and we would have to close down,” he said.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Coronavirus Puts Seafood Expo North American on Hold

Concern that the coronavirus could turn the nation’s largest seafood show into a petri dish for the virus has prompted postponement of Seafood Expo North America, which is well attended by the Alaska seafood industry. Word spread rapidly after Diversified Communications announced on Tuesday, March 3, that the show, set for March 15-17 in Boston, Mass., was postponed while they look at other options.

The notice reads that Diversified is “committed to finding a solution to deliver an event in North America this year, to ensure business continuity to the seafood industry.” Details on when and where will be communicated directly to customers next month. The show, now in its 40th year, generates millions of dollars in sales for the Alaska seafood industry.

Jeremy Woodrow, executive director of the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, said that ASMI was hearing even before Diversified’s announcement that some companies were not going to the Boston show because of the coronavirus and that sales were going to be down. From ASMI’s standpoint, Diversified made the right decision. Meanwhile sales teams will have to do more work, setting up individual calls, but that process will have less impact than it would have 20 or 30 years ago, given modern technology, he explained.

Diversified also organizes the Seafood Expo Global Show in Brussels, Belgium, which is still scheduled for April 21–23. ASMI normally hosts a pavilion for the Alaska seafood industry in Boston and has its own booth at the Brussels show, as do others in the Alaska seafood industry. Last year ASMI estimated sales in Brussels exceeded $1 billion. That number includes sales on the floor and expected sales following conversations and deals made at the show.

In California, the New Hope Network announced on Monday, March 2, that it was postponing its Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim because of concerns over the coronavirus and hope to set new date for the event by mid-April. The event attracts some 86,000 visitors annually.

Processors engaged in the Alaska seafood industry meanwhile were in discussion on how to assure safe working conditions for hundreds of employees during the summer fisheries, given the close proximity in which they work, eat and sleep. A spokesperson for one processing company said it is a matter of concern, but at least they have another 60 days to figure it out.

Federal Judge Will Decide if Lawsuit Against EPA Will Move Forward

US District Court Judge Sharon Gleason says she expects to hand down a decision by month’s end on whether a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) related to development of the proposed Pebble mine may move forward.

Gleason heard arguments in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday, March 2, over the EPA’s decision to withdraw its 2014 proposed determination, which would have blocked development of the mine adjacent to the Bristol Bay watershed in Southwest Alaska. The EPA, which is represented by the Department of Justice (DOJ), is seeking to have the case dismissed.

DOJ environmental defense attorney Mark Nitczynski argued that EPA’s decision to withdraw that proposed determination is a decision “not to enforce,” and is presumptively unreviewable. If this case is not dismissed it would then subject to a review every EPA decision regarding its veto authority in any U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit, he said.

Plaintiffs contend that the EPA’s move to withdraw proposed Clean Water Act protections was arbitrary and unlawful and runs counter to the scientific and public record.

Those protections were first requested back in 2010 by six Bristol Bay tribes, and supported by commercial and sport fishing groups, among them the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association (BBRSDA), which represents the drift gillnet fleet in Bristol Bay.

“Although we are now waiting for the judge’s ruling in this case, our primary goal is unchanged: protecting and promoting the Bristol Bay fishery,” said Andy Wink, executive director of the BBRSDA. “The science still supports 404 protections in Bristol Bay and we will continue working to secure them.”

Wink’s reference was to section 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act, which authorizes the EPA to prohibit, restrict or deny the discharge of dredged or fill material at defined sites in waters of the United States, including wetlands, whenever it determines that use of such sites for disposal would have an unacceptable adverse impact.

Ocean Bottom Temperatures Were Key to Pacific Cod Disaster in Gulf of Alaska

A federal fisheries study focused on the influence of water temperature on egg hatching success concludes that the dramatic loss of Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska in 2019 was due to lack of optimal spawning habitat on the ocean bottom.

The NOAA Fisheries study, led by biologist Benjamin Laurel, connected low numbers of Pacific cod larvae, juveniles and adults to loss of spawning habitat in the 2013–2016 marine heatwave, known as “the Blob” – the largest warm anomaly ever recorded in the North Pacific.

Loss of optimal habitat for the Pacific cod eggs occurred during and immediately following the heat wave, causing a significant ecological as well as an economic impact on the second most valuable commercial fishery in Alaska.

Worth noting, researchers said, is the fact that there are a number of other ways in which temperature can affect fish survival. For example, warm water can affect cod prey and predators, which may subject cod at different ages to starvation or higher predation.

NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center, reporting study results on Feb. 20, said the fishery experienced a 58 percent cut in its annual catch limits in 2018 and a fishery closure in 2020.

The report titled Loss of spawning habitat and prerecruits of Pacific cod during a Gulf of Alaska heatwave, was published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

“We combined results of laboratory studies, stock assessment model output and survey data to help us better understand what happens to Pacific cod in warm and cold years” Laurel said. “We found that the recent three-year heatwave and return to similar conditions in 2019 potentially had the greatest effect on spawning habitat for the years we had available data (1994 to 2019).”

Laurel and colleague Lauren Rogers determined that Pacific cod eggs have a narrow optimal range for hatching success, only 3–6oC, much narrower than related species like walleye Pollock and Atlantic cod.

“Pacific cod are unique among cod species,” Rogers said. “They only spawn once in a season and have eggs that adhere to the sea floor. Pacific cod females can actually place their eggs in habitats with temperatures that optimize hatch success. However, during these warm years, it may have been more challenging to find suitable habitat because the warmer water temperatures extended into the ocean depths.”

Laurel and his team have successfully raised age–0 juveniles (fish in their first year of life) from the Gulf of Alaska to adulthood in their Newport, Ore., laboratory, and have also spawned fish successfully in the same laboratory setting. For this experiment, eggs were collected, fertilized and then tested under different temperatures to determine ideal hatching conditions.

Domestic Consumption of Wild Alaska Pollock on the Rise

The Association of Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers says per capita domestic consumption of Pollock rose by 38 percent to 0.988 pounds per person in 2019, a level not seen since 2016.

That was the conclusion of a new analysis of US markets released by GAPP on Monday, March 2, in Seattle, Wash., which included both wild Alaska and imported Pollock.

While total Pollock consumption grew, most significant is the increase in consumption of domestically produced wild Alaska Pollock, GAPP officials said. Fifty-nine percent of all Pollock consumed by Americans is caught and processed wild Alaska Pollock.

“Clearly the investment the industry has made to build awareness and a common brand around wild Alaska Pollock in the U.S. market is paying significant dividends,” said Craig Morris, chief executive officer of GAPP. Morris also credited the industry’s commitment to partnering with its downstream customers to invest in innovation and put wild Alaska Pollock in front of more consumers in more ways every single day. The goal, said Morris, is to work to make wild Alaska Pollock a household name in domestic markets.

Over the coming year GAPP plans to continue investment in its North American Partnership Program, which encourages bringing new forms of Pollock, including fillets and surimi, to market in new channels or associated with market influencers. The report also indicates growing domestic interest in surimi, with a higher percentage of US produced surimi remaining in domestic markets.

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