Atlantic | Scallops
Northeast competition heats up with rebounding inshore Maine crop
By Kirk Moore
Maine’s state waters sea scallop fishery wound up its season in April with 3 million pounds, and prices $18 a pound and better — rebuilt nearly five-fold from 2009.
A big part of those prices is the quality of the inshore product.
“We need more niche marketing of differentiated dayboat scallops,” said Togue Brawn of Downeast Dayboat, who has been pitching buyers on the tastes of scallops from different Maine waters — much like oyster growers who sell taste and brand identity. “You don’t notice that with generic offshore scallops.”
Both dayboat and offshore scallopers have been riding high prices, influenced by lower East Coast catches and intense international demand, including fallout from a sharp decline in Japanese harvests. Production around Hokkaido, Japan, was down 30 percent in the past year and expected to fall further.
The American supply is constrained too by cautionary quota numbers. In northern New England a relatively mild early winter contributed to a slow start because more fishermen were employed in an extended lobster season...
Gulf/So. Atlantic | Mullet
Mullet fleet and exports have declined but it’s still a local favorite
By Dayna Harpster
Exports of red and white mullet roe once fueled the Florida mullet industry. In 2013, exports amounted to 199 metric tons; in 2014 it was 340 metric tons. But that’s way shy of 2003 and 2004 totals, at 630 and 568 metric tons, respectively. Compare that with 1995’s export at 969 metric tons, and a decline in value from 1995 of over $15 million to a little over $8 million in 2014.
In recent years during the mullet run in December and January, red roe mullet ex-vessel fetches more than $1 a pound, usually $1.20 to $1.60.
Despite more difficult fishing, first with the ban of gillnets in state waters, then continuing limits on mesh size, net material and more, a taste for mullet filet remains. Perhaps not among Florida’s large part time residents, but certainly among those in the state’s coastal communities.
Barnhill Fisheries Seafood Market in Matlacha, Fla., sells 300 to 400 pounds a week of whole fish, some to area tarpon fishers for bait and some to families for food. They fetch $1.50 a pound retail or $10 a pound smoked, on site. The market smokes about 100 pounds a week...
Pacific | Albacore
Frozen & canned inventory sold, prices expected to rebound this year
By Nick Rahaim
The summer of 2016 is poised to be promising for albacore fishermen. Prices look to be increasing after a few years that caused fishermen to wonder if it wasn’t better to stay tied up to the dock. Historical precedent also offers good signs for the catch.
“You can never know what the catch will be, but El Niño slacking off bodes well for albacore,” says Wayne Heikkila, executive director for the Western Fishboat Owners Association in Redding, Calif.
For the past three years there has been a major backup in inventory, causing buyers to drop the price they were offering fishermen. Sashimi grade flash-frozen albacore was fetching up to $5,000 a ton in 2012 but dropped by more than half to $2,300 a ton in 2015, says Heikkila.
Brine-frozen albacore for a primarily canned market also took a hit, falling from a 2012 average of $2,700 a ton to $1,800 last year. But with back stocks of frozen and canned product having been sold, the price looks to be edging higher...
Alaska | Halibut & Blackcod
Halibut quota is up in nine areas, but early landing figures are down
By Charlie Ess
Alaska’s halibut and blackcod longliners began their season on March 19. The 2016 halibut quota of 17.5 million pounds for all harvest areas came in slightly higher than last year’s 17.1 million pounds. That’s good news, according to Bob Alverson, manager of the Seattle-based Fishing Vessel Owners Association and commissioner of the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
“The quota came up a little bit,” he says. “Nine of the 12 areas they assessed were up, and for the first time in 15 years the catch per unit of effort in the commercial harvest for Areas 3A and 3B were up.”
Deliveries, meanwhile, stood at 4.0 million pounds as of May 4. That’s around 23 percent of the quota so far, and the pace of the fishery in terms of landings tracked behind 2015, when the landings to date came in at 5.2 million pounds...
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