Promising halibut, sablefish and roe herring fisheries set to open
More fishing boats are on the water with the start of the Pacific halibut and sablefish (black cod) fishery on March 6, followed by Alaska’s first major herring fishery in Sitka Sound.
For halibut, coastwide catches in waters from the West Coast states to British Columbia to the far reaches of the Bering Sea have increased 5.7% this year to 41, 22 million pounds.
Alaska still gets the lion’s share of the commercial halibut harvest, which for 2022 is 21.51 million pounds, an increase of almost 10%. Expectations for good fishing are high and “rumors of dock prices opening around $8.00/lb have people very excited,” Alaska Boats and Permits said in its weekly Fish Ticket report from Homer.
The average dockside price for Alaska halibut in 2021 was $6.40/lb.
Fishermen in Alaska are also seeing an increase in the abundance of sablefish, and the combined Gulf and Bering Sea catch in 2022 is up 32% to 76 million pounds.
A herring-on-kelp spawn fishery opens March 17 in Craig and Klawok, with a harvest limit of 5,060 tonnes.
The Sitka Sound roe herring fishery, which typically begins in late March, has the highest harvest level ever at 45,164 tonnes (90.3 million pounds).
Prince William Sound shrimpers must register to set traps by April 1 for the mid-April start of a fishery that could bring in 66,900 pounds.
A Tanner crab fishery began March 1 in Prince William Sound with a catch limit of 61,800 pounds. It could run until March 31 unless the quota is taken sooner.
The Tanner crab fishery in the southeast, which began February 11, is scheduled to end March 9. No word on catches, but managers have reported “historically high levels of crab” and catches are expected to easily exceed last year’s harvest of 1.27 million pounds. Crabeaters are crossing their fingers that the Southeast price reflects Kodiak’s $8.50/lb.
Southeast crabbers can also simultaneously shoot golden king crabs with a harvest limit of 75,300 pounds, an increase of nearly 24% from last year. Goldens average 5-8 pounds and last year averaged $11.55/pound at the docks.
Norton Sound crabbers place traps through the ice for 27,328 pounds of red king crab. Fewer than 10 license holders will sell their catch locally as no buyers have signed up due to concerns about the declining crab stock.
The Bering Sea snow crab fleet has increased its quota by about 70% to 5.6 million pounds (about 4.3 million animals), down 88% from 2021. Still, bottom trawlers targeting plaice are allowed 5.99 million snow crab as bycatch, or £7.8 million.
The crabbers also took 68% of their 1 million pound Bering Sea bairdi Tanner quota. The bycatch allocation for trawlers is 3.07 million animals, exceeding 6 million pounds.
Boats also continue to fish for Alaska pollock in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, where the combined catch could exceed 3 billion pounds. Fishing is also underway for cod, redfish, perch, plaice and many other species.
Lastly, it’s hard to believe, but fisheries managers at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game will announce the 2022 Alaska salmon fishery catch any day.
Names? Who knows – The State Fisheries Council meeting is days away, but Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has yet to reveal who could fill a vacant seat on the seven-member panel. The Fish Board will meet March 10-22 in Anchorage to address Southeast/Yakutat commercial, sport, subsistence, and personal-use fishing management issues.
Dunleavy appointed Indy Walton of Soldotna to the board in September, but he resigned in December for health reasons. By law, the governor has 30 days to make another appointment.
Inquiries to Dunleavy’s office went unanswered.
The governor is also silent on his selections for two seats on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. By law, names must be submitted to the US Secretary of Commerce by March 15.
The terms of members Cora Campbell, CEO of Silver Bay Seafoods, and Nicole Kimball, vice president of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, end August 10. Both could be renewed.
The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council oversees the management of over 140 species of fish and shellfish in 47 stocks and stock complexes.
Wonders of fish “waste” – Scottish researchers transform salmon waste into a key component of nylon.
Plastics experts from Impact Solutions have teamed up with the University of Edinburgh, seafood producer Farne Salmon and the Center for Industrial Biotechnology Innovation to use biological enzymes to extract fatty components from waste of fish. They are then transformed into a mixture of adipic acid, a precursor of nylon.
Adipic acid is also used in a wide range of products including petrochemical and polyurethane based items such as building insulation, furniture cushions, cosmetics, lubricants, pharmaceuticals, food additives and the aromas.
“This project marks the start of an exciting journey to find a sustainable alternative to a key component present in the fabric of our garments. The initial feasibility study has brought us to an exciting time where we can begin to see the potential for generating value from material that would otherwise be thrown away,” said Simon Rathbone, Head of Development at Impact Solutions, at Seafood Source News.
The researchers want to maximize the value of the process by looking at other components that can be extracted from fish waste, such as fatty acids and fish oils. “Our waste streams have been a focus for the past few years and where possible we have found ways to divert them to companies that have the foresight and technology to use them as raw materials for treatment. later,” the team added.
The researchers noted that over a billion pounds of waste is created each year by the UK processing industry. In Alaska, wasted fish skins, heads, oils and other bits exceed 3 billion pounds and could add more than $700 million to the state’s revenue stream, according to a ‘Specialty Products’ report from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
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