13 May 2015

Market Report – May 13, 2015

May 13, 2015


Atlantic salmon markets in all regions globally have been virtually flat, but there are some signs of price resurgence. Regionally consumer demand is strong with retailers offering bargain salmon buys, especially during the Mother’s Day weekend. Recent volcanic activity in Chile spurred market prices slightly, but production appears to be back on track, still running 4.7% less than last year this date. Scottish salmon production is steady with average sizing in the 6-8 kg range. Our direct shipment from Scotland ensures excellent quality. Seattle Fish Co. expert cutters fill Scottish salmon orders to your exact specification. Norwegian whole salmon and fillet add Atlantic salmon variety and superior choice to our farmed salmon stable. Norwegian spot salmon prices have jumped this week, the effect of weak dollar and euro. Rounding out our premium Atlantic salmon line is Skuna Bay craft-raised Atlantic salmon from the icy waters of Nootka Sound, Canada, fed by the glacial Gold River. All Skuna Bay farms are BAP (Best Aquaculture Practice) certified and all Skuna Bay fish are hand selected to exacting standards. Add whole Skuna to your summer menu experience.

Let’s get down to the meat of the salmon business—wild. As usual, anticipation for the Copper River opener is palpable. Our major retail partners want the favored Copper River sockeye in their stores as soon as tenders arrive with their catch. The Copper River District will open for this season with Round 1 starting Thursday, May 14, at 7:00 am Alaska time. The opener is a 12-hour fishery. Inside waters within the Copper Chinook will be closed during this period. Sonars have been deployed to count escapement, determining length and time of the next opener. This fishery is extremely well managed following tried and true historic scientific data. Projected harvest for the 2015 Copper River District is 2.2 million sockeye and 6000 Chinook. The upper river escapement goal is 360,000-750,000 natural sockeye. Copper River is not the only wild fishery, of course. Winter and spring kings have been running for some time, albeit at relatively high prices. This past Mother’s Day we sent our customers Troll kings, Columbia River kings and Quileute Nation kings, with bright meat and fat bellies. Seattle Fish Co. will be your only wild salmon connection this season. Our wild salmon sales experts will apprise you of all selections.

Seattle Fish Co. is pleased to announce the arrival of Colorado trout from Frontier trout farm in southern Colorado. This home-grown company has been designed around sustainability and recycling. All water discharge helps replenish surface water depletions. Water comes from the wetlands of Russell State Wildlife Refuge, with excess flowing downstream to aid local grass-fed cattle operations. Fish waste is collected and composted for local organic agricultural projects. They raise a mean potato down there. Ask your sales rep about Colorado trout, a new, local addition to our extensive farm-raised trout offering. As long as we are conversing about Seattle Fish Co.’s superior trout choice, try Scottish steelhead, flying to Denver directly from the chilly waters of the Northern Argyll on the west coast of Scotland. These fish have ample room to grow and excellent feed conversion ratio, are GMO free, and use no hormones or growth promoters. Loch Etive Steelhead from Scotland, simply one of the finest fish in the world, is exclusively sold at Seattle Fish Co.


U.S. farm-raised catfish is a Seattle Fish Co. staple, sustainably raised by dedicated farmers in Mississippi. Have we told you our catfish partner is the only BAP (Best Aquaculture Practice) catfish company in the United States? I believe so, and they are exclusive in the Rocky Mountain region to Seattle Fish Co. Supply is ramping up, peaking in July. Looks for retail ads with preferred pricing in the coming months. Catfish is also a perfect food service fish: versatile, inexpensive, and excellent, clean flavor.


Our fishing friends from Adak Island, Alaska, are a bit behind schedule this season. Located in western Alaska, Adak, Home of the Winds, is the southernmost island of the remote Aleutian chain. As you can imagine, cost of doing business, power, supply, shipping, and workforce offer many challenges. The benefit is the rich fishing grounds of the southern Aleutians. Halibut, sable, thorny rock, crab, and cod are a few of the Alaskan bounty of the region. Thanks to the military stationed in Adak as early responders to enemy threat during WWII, Adak has an airport runway for large cargo jets. Good news for Seattle Fish Co.; direct cargo flights to Denver. In other regions of Alaska, halibut supply is more plentiful this week after recent bad weather has limited catch. Prices are also receding as supply increases. Larger halibut continue to be limited, most fish arriving in the under 20 lb. range. The halibut biomass in Alaska is strong, but average size of fish has been smaller in recent years, prompting limitation of TAC (total allowable catch) in Alaska, further testament of the best managed fishery around the globe. The ground fishery remains adequate, but recent announcement of closure for directed fishing for ground fish has some fishermen concerned. The shutdown went into effect May 3, having a direct impact on cod, with only 50 percent of the cod quota harvested. The closure is part of a rule putting a limit on Chinook salmon by-catch, but not all gear has been shut down. Non-directed or non-trawl fishing is still allowed, so the general feeling is pot fishermen and the like will still bring Pacific cod to market. Pacific shallow water Dover sole, arrow tooth flounder, and rock fillet are available. Ask your sales rep about our great selection of whole rock varieties. In Washington and Oregon, troll salmon season opened May 1, but weather and finding schooling fish has kept supply low and prices firm. Bay shrimp is in full production as price remains strong globally, even though Oregon Bay shrimp is not a big mover in our region. King crab season opens soon and prices will be advancing. Very strong demand from China and Japan are major drivers, buying directly from live boats. Dungeness crab is virtually nonexistent. Whatever whole or cooked Dungeness sections are available, price tag will be exorbitant. California, home of the best kings, according to the salmon fishermen in San Jose and Bodega, is starting to show signs of life, but has not translated to actual inventory. With high projections of all wild salmonids, California kings should be very reasonably priced when the catch does come in. California Game and Fish projects better catch this year than last, so let’s hope they are spot on. Southern California is producing yellowtail, a great substitution for very high priced mahi. Baja grouper, Mexican bay scallops, snapper, and corvina are running as well as live urchin and uni coming from the waters off Cabrillo Point in San Diego. The shrimp season in Mexico has ground to a halt; new season opens again late September. Shrimp prices have been steady lately, the feeling that prices have bottomed and are starting to reverse. Importers, however, are sitting on inventory and many distributors are still buying hand to mouth. If exporters start to raise prices, who are they going to sell to? We feel shrimp prices will stay level or even drop during the summer. Seattle Fish Co. has good selection, so check with your sales rep for the great variety we carry. You may have seen a recent Consumer Reports article regarding the safety of shrimp. CR obviously knows a lot about toasters and dishwashers, but proved their lack of knowledge in the shrimp category. Their sample of some raw and cooked shrimp, 342 packages, is a woeful misrepresentation of the billions of pounds of global production. Many points in their article are unsubstantiated or incomplete and they have no recent history reporting on the shrimp industry.


Squid, a staple on practically every menu, is on the East Coast front page news. We are all aware of the debilitating winter in the Northeast this year. Squid tend to shy away from severe cold, and reaching new harvest areas has not been efficient or economical. Squid is a wild animal and we are going through a cycle of low harvest. Hopefully landings will increase soon, but there may be some shortage in domestic production. We will offer alternatives, but quality alternatives, if shortage is severe or prolonged. Weather has also had an impact on the lobster season. The Canadian Department of Fisheries recently announced delay due to ice in the harbors. Everything will be later and slower this year. Fishermen used to set their clocks by the behavior of Maine lobsters, but recent environmental changes have made lobstering much less predictable. New season scallop fishing continues, value coming in the smaller sizes as indicated in previous reports. Large sizes are less available and prices will stay high. Ground fishing is adequate for dabs, flounders, and haddock. New additions to our East Coast lineup this past week were bluefish and scup. Ask your rep for details. The New England cod industry, a staple in the region, is distressed, keeping cost for cod very strong. Monk fish supply is good, the preponderance coming from set net or gill net boats, the preferred gear type for quality and good fishing practice.


Looks like Mother Nature finally loosened her grip on winter and the woes experienced by the shellfish industry, especially in the Northeast. Such was not the case in Denver as we were pounded with heavy spring snow for the second year in a row on Mother’s Day. East Coast oyster varieties are very good with Canadian product coming on board shortly. Same case on the West Coast. We have been talking about the harsh winter and it seems unlikely we should be concerned about hot weather, the enemy of shellfish, but May 1 marked the official start of the vibrio season in the Northwest. Water temperatures are still quite cold, but we want to be proactive in preventing any illness occurring from Vibrio parahaemolyticus. Washington State has a new vibrio plan for 2015 with strict guidelines. Harvest is immediately closed if water temperatures exceed a certain threshold, one of the many controls in place to ensure safety. Regulations are merely a start. Temperature control must occur through the entire transportation chain as well as holding practice for the end user. At 50 degrees, vibrio stops growing, at 65 vibrio can double in less than 5 hours and at 80 it doubles in 1.5 hours. Enjoy shellfish, but take care of your product. Seattle Fish Co. offers excellent variety, and your oyster expert will guide you through our extensive menu. Mussels are also making a turnaround as Prince Edward Island is once again producing with regularity. During the PEI shortage many of our customers tried out Maine mussels, Johnny Blues wild and bottom grown as opposed to PEIs, which are farm raised and rope grown. The key is both mussels are purged to remove detritus (mud, sand, grit, etc.) that mussels from the Gulf of Maine may have sucked up. Wild, not as consistent as a farm-raised mussel, have excellent meat fill that’s full and well brined. Hard-shell clams are always consistent; excellent sizing, full meats, and exact counts. As with oysters, it is never too early to be cognizant of proper mussel care and storage. Mussels love direct ice in a well-drained pan. Never leave any shellfish in standing water. Manila clams from our West Coast friends are at the height of the season, neatly packaged in 5 lb. bags. As weather continues to improve, more specialty clams varieties such as razor, chocolate, and blood clams will be offered. Make Seattle Fish Co. your one-stop shellfish store.


Five years have passed since the BP Deepwater Horizon offshore oil spill. Instead of bitterness and depression, seafood leaders are optimistic and upbeat. Gulf fishermen are a hardy band reacting well to changes in the seafood industry. Some fisheries, naturally, have recovered better than others. Oyster suppliers, for example, report a 50 percent reduction in Louisiana oysters. Not all blame can go to the oil spill, however. Freshwater from many diversion projects has caused oyster kill. The crab catch is way down also, but other issues such as natural cycles in every fishery could be at the root. Still, the effects were devastating as news cameras focused on escaping oil 24 hours a day. Overcoming that perception was a daunting task. Fish once again is streaming from the Gulf, and Seattle Fish Co. is a great supporter of the Gulf fishing industry. Tuna numbers from Dulac, Louisiana, are climbing, along with sword, amberjack, snapper, escolar, and wahoo. Since the Gulf spill, a group of fishermen who formed the Gulf of Mexico Reef Fisheries Shareholders Alliance followed their mission “to promote and protect sustainable fisheries and the fishing industry in the Gulf of Mexico.” Want results? The failing American red snapper is making a tremendous comeback as a result of their efforts to protect the reef fishery. Catch shares and quotas are strictly adhered to, fishing gear has been improved to target specific species, and all fish are individually tagged with information about location of catch, name of FV, and name of boat captain. This excellent progress prompted Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program to upgrade American red snapper from red rated to good alternative.


Unofficial opening date of the Great Lakes fishery every year is May 1. Someone forgot to inform Mother Nature this year, but we are seeing some supply of walleye on a weekly basis. Whitefish is also starting to show, and we will target some of the favored lake perch later in the season. We expect a bountiful Lake fishery this summer.


Shipments from the Honolulu Auction have been steady. Swordfish, plentiful lately, dried up this past weekend, but we expect Hawaiian sword to run for a few more weeks. Other regular choices include monchong, tuna, marlin, ono, tombo, and opah. Some of our retail stores have featured whole opah (moonfish) cut to order. Top loins provide a red meat steak-like loin, perfect on the grill. If you get a chance, ask for bottom loin opah, less expensive than the top loin, heavily marbled, lighter color, but absolutely perfect for a hot grill. Try some today. Kampachi from the deep water pens in the pristine waters far off the shores of Kona come day-fresh to our dock. Kampachi raw, seared, or crudo will please any discriminating palate. Ask for your Hawaiian special today.

Wild salmon season is upon us. Check out our wild summer guide to plan your upcoming menus. All of us at Seattle Fish Co. hope your mothers had a wonderful Mother’s Day.



Harry Mahlers

Harry Mahleres
Director of Purchasing

303-329-9595 ext. 121