Tumultuous Dungeness Crab Season Leads to Abundant Supply
A spike in West Coast Dungeness crab deliveries in early January resulted in a glut of landings with nowhere to go reports Susan Chambers. This year's Dungeness season has been far from smooth. Openings were slightly delayed and scattered, China shut down imports of live crabs from the US and fishermen went on strike for better boat prices. But once fishing started, West Coast processors were unable to keep up with a surge of deliveries. Crab was everywhere: stacked in totes, chilled on vessels, stored in live tanks, cooked and frozen. However, reports now suggest the back up is easing after a series of storms slowed fishing last week. This gave processors some time to catch up. Meanwhile, China is now accepting limited live crab shipments.
Based on numbers by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, fishery managers are predicting a much better pink salmon run for 2017 in the major producing regions. The pinks returning to Alaska this summer will be from the 2015 pack, the largest year on record. For Southeast Alaska, the catch forecast calls for 43 million pink salmon, slightly above the 10 year average. The Prince William Sound run could top 60 million pinks this summer according to ADF&G.
Chinese shrimp producers Beihai Wanjing Marine Products and Beihai Evergreen Aquatic Product Science and Technology have passed an official FDA examination against new standards in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These are the first food companies in Beihai of Guangxi to get FDA approval under the FSMA guidelines. Both companies process and sell shrimp to the US and other markets.
In other news, prices for imported frozen salmon from Chile are now at all-time record high levels in January according to Urner Barry. This is a function of more limited farmed production from both Chilean and European suppliers, in addition to Alaska’s historically poor pink salmon run in 2016. Fresh salmon demand has limited the available supply to produce more frozen product. This happened at the same time that Alaska’s pink salmon run was a major bust, which forced buyers to use Chilean salmon to fill their need for frozen product.
Finally, seafood wholesalers in Australia are preparing their customers for a spike in shrimp prices because of the country's ban on imported raw white shrimp. Australia banned imports after the 's first ever case of white spot was confirmed in five shrimp farms in Queensland. Wholesalers say supplies are getting tight and the expectation is for prices to possibly triple in just a few months.
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