Oregon, Washington Take Caution, Delay Commercial Dungeness Season for More Domoic Acid Testing
Oregon and Washington fishery officials delayed the start to commercial Dungeness crab fishing in most waters. The season was supposed to start on December 1, but fishery officials opted for caution and elected to the delay the season so they can conduct additional testing on the crabs for domoic acid. The most recent round of testing results showed domoic acid warranted an alert level in only one area in Oregon, but other places were trending upward. Levels off Washington's coast showed the crabs were safe to eat but again, officials wanted to conduct additional testing before opening the fishery. "We're taking extra precautions due to the high volume of crab typically caught within the first weeks of the commercial opening," said Dan Ayres, coastal shellfish manager for the Washington Department of Health. "We want people to feel confident the crab they buy is safe to eat."
Alaska's commercial, sport and personal-use fishermen are likely to fight for shares of more limited sockeye resources when the state's Fish Board hosts its next meeting. The Board will be in charge of divvying up fish between each sector. This is set up to be an especially arduous process for the 2017 season given low sockeye harvest projections in the Upper Cook Inlet and elsewhere. In addition to low return projections, there is also growing political clout of personal-use fishermen and a fair amount of uncertainty following the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on state salmon management.
In other news, Nova Scotia's winter lobster fishing season in LFAs 33 and 34 will commence on November 28, weather permitting. With prices and markets holding strong, there is optimism in the industry that this year’s fishery will be a repeat of last season. “All in all I think we’re going to see the same kind of season that we seen last year,” said Lockeport based buyer Mike Cotter, Cotter’s Oceans Products.
Meanwhile, retailer Lidl is the first grocer in the UK market to announce a holiday season promotion for its whole, cooked frozen lobsters. The store will feature the item at a discounted price of €2.99, which is down from last year's sale price of €5.99. “Christmas is a very expensive time of year for shoppers up and down the country and our ambition is to put the control back into the hands of consumers, and save them even more in the run up to Christmas," said Lidl spokesperson Georgina Hall.
Finally, Thai Union said its loss-making salmon business will continue in the red in the fourth quarter due to higher raw material costs. The company also said prices will take longer to recover than originally expected. Higher salmon prices and an unexpected rise in tuna prices dragged down the company's third-quarter gross margin to 14.1 percent, the lowest in six quarters, an earnings presentation showed on Wednesday. "We had earlier expected the salmon business to recover in the second half of this year, but now it should take longer than expected to recover (in Q1, 2017)," said TU's Chief Financial Officer Joerg Ayrle.
Urner Barry and Seafood News will be closed on November 24 and November 25 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. We will return to our normal publication schedule on Monday, November 28. On behalf of John, Peggy, Susan, Linda and the rest of our team, we wish all of our readers and their families a safe and happy Thanksgiving.
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