China squabble upsets fisheries

The China trade fight is causing major uncertainties for Alaska seafood companies. Pink salmon and other Alaska fish caught and frozen in Alaska are exported to China for reprocessing into products with much of those exported again including to the U.S. There are concerns about how new tariffs applied by China will affect the cost of Alaska fish and shifts by buyers there to other sources of supply. A new worry is on how fish meal will be affected, a large-volume but low-value product made from fish processing waste. This is an important business for Alaskan companies.

Bristol Bay sockeye near record

Bristol Bay’s booming sockeye harvest surpassed 61 million pounds at the end of July, making it the second largest in history. Assuming an average fish size of 5.5 pounds and $1.25 per pound price, the catch could be worth $275 million to harvesters. Elsewhere the sockeye catch has been weak or, in the case of Copper River, a bust. Biologists are blaming a warm “blob” of water in the Gulf of Alaska for the weakness of those sockeye runs. Bristol Bay sockeye spend juvenile years in the Bering Sea where water temperatures were normal.

Deep gulf salmon study underway

To get a better handle on what happens to salmon while out at sea in their life cycle the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, a long-standing multinational research consortium, will conduct research in deeper parts of the Gulf of Alaska. The U.S., Canada, Japan, Korea and Russia are members of the commission. The focus will be on impacts related to climate change.

Aleutian king crab quota rises

The Aleutian region quota for golden king crab has been boosted 16 percent from last year, and fishing is underway. Golden king crab are typically 4.5 pounds on average, about two pounds smaller than the better-known Bristol Bay red king crab.

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