Alaska’s importance to Seattle
A new economic report in Seattle detailed the importance of Alaska to the Seattle-based fishing fleet. Of 300 fishing vessels listing Seattle as home port all but 74 operate in Alaska waters, the report said. The Seattle fleet employed about 5,000 on vessels, the bulk of those fishing in Alaska waters.
Crab: Harvest outlook, markets
Biologists reported a strong recruitment of young crab during last winter’s crab fishery, which bodes well for crab populations in the upcoming winter fisheries for red king crab, tanners and opilio, or snow, crab. Fishing starts for red king crab in mid-October and in January for other crab. It was a good season for snow crab this spring, with a 27.5-million-pound harvest, up 47 percent from the previous year after stocks rebounded after being depressed. Snow crab prices were good too, averaging $4.04 per pound, and the outlook is for higher prices in 2020.
Surge in mariculture interest
Alaska’s infant mariculture, or aquatic farming, industry is growing. Sixteen new applications for mariculture farms were filed from January through April, fisheries writer Laine Welch wrote in a column, and while the number of new applications were the same as in 2018 for the period the number of acres in the applications was up 33 percent to 616 acres compared with 462 acres in the 2018 applications. So far Alaska’s 58 aquatic farms produce mostly oysters but experiments in harvesting kelp are proving a success, and about half of the 2019 applications were for kelp or combi- nation oyster and kelp. The first experimental kelp harvests in 2016, in waters off Kodiak, resulted in 16,000 pounds being produced, and in 2017 the production was up to 90,000 pounds, Welch wrote. In harvests this spring Kodiak kelp farmers expect to bring in 150,000 to 200,000 pounds. Kelp, or seaweed, has a fast-growing world market and it fits well with oyster farming, which is why many of the applications are for joint project. The cycle time, seeding-to-harvest of kelp is also faster than for oysters, which helps farmers smooth out income streams.
Push for Alaska seafood exemption
Alaska’s congressional delegation has asked U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for an ex- emption for Alaska seafood products imported from China that are fished in Alaska and exported to Chi- na for processing and manufacture. The Trump ad- ministration has announced new tariffs on Chinese imports amid on ongoing trade war. The policy will indirectly hurt Alaska fish harvesters and companies engaged in exports, Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan said.
China’s higher tariffs on imported Alaska fish, ordered in tit-for-tat reciprocation on the Trump tariffs, also make Alaska seafood more expensive in that nation, cutting into a promising big market for Alaskans.