Snow crab, salmon face tough markets
January 9, 2015
This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – It’s a tough market this year for Alaska snow crab and sockeye salmon. More after this –
Find ASMI’s latest Seafood Market Bulletin featuring the 2014 salmon season – catches, prices, harvests, exports, and five year comparisons – at www.alaskaseafood.org
The Bering Sea snow crab fishery gears up in January and the fleet has taken 13% of the 61 million pound quota so far. They are also tapping on a hefty bairdi Tanner crab catch, the larger cousin of snow crab. Alaska crab is facing tough market forces, says market expert John Sackton of Seafood.com.
A 25% increase in the snow crab quota, an unexpected 15 million pound Tanner fishery, a weak Japanese yen, plus several million pounds of Russian snow crab from a new fishery in the Barents Sea – all combine to give buyers plenty of choices. Another twist: lower king crab prices have given buyers more alternatives – including a new entry – Argentinean Southern Red king crab.
Global market forces also are forcing a downward press on Alaska sockeye prices. The unexpected big run at Bristol Bay saw processors producing way more H&G reds, and – in the face of another huge run expected this summer – unsold sockeye inventory has piled up in freezers.
Adding to the mix – record numbers of farmed salmon are coming into the US from Norway and Chile. Urner-Barry reports Chile’s farmed coho volumes were the highest since a virus wiped out their fish farms in 2010. And Russia’s ongoing seafood ban prompted Norway to turn to the US as an alternative market, with US sales of fresh fillets through the third quarter reaching a five year high. (18.5m lb)
The holidays boost seafood demand, and Urner-Barry says the upswing could carry over into the New Year. Lent begins early–on February 18, just four days after Valentine’s Day.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. (www.oceanbeauty.com) In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.