Japan imports record volume of salmon -- but it's farmed, not wild Alaska fish

Photo/Rena Delbridge/For the Journal

Japan imported a record volume of salmon in the first four months of this year, increasing 33.5 percent compared with the same time last year. The Internet site Fish Information Service reported that most of the increase was because of a 33 percent increase in imports of farmed coho.

The second largest increase came from farmed trout imports, which totaled 13,100 tons, an increase of more than 53 percent.

"The United States is the absolute loser in the Japanese market, with exports down almost 40 percent during this period," FIS said. "The ’winners’ were Norway with 38.7 percent and Chile with 37.8 percent. In general, prices in the Japanese market are far lower this year than one year ago. The average price for frozen imported sockeye for the first four months of this year is the lowest average seen during the last five years."

University of Alaska Anchorage fisheries economist Gunnar Knapp said that sockeye salmon last year accounted for only 20 percent of total Japanese salmon imports, down from 57 percent in 1993-94.

Business mission planned

The World Trade Center Alaska is planning a business mission to Chile, designed for seafood harvesters, processors, policymakers, transportation/logistics professionals, seafood product suppliers, educators and related industry professionals.

The trip, which is scheduled for Nov. 3 to 11, will review supply chain and food distribution models, including site visits and executive briefings with professional associations, harvest sites, processing facilities, marketing and distribution companies, technology and telecom related and logistics companies in Santiago and Puerto Montt, according to a press release. For more information, contact the center at 907-278-7233.

Farmed halibut update

Intrafish reports that Norway’s investments in halibut farming is starting to pay off. According to the newspaper Aftenposten, the company Nutreco will produce 1,000 tons of farmed halibut to markets in the next two years. Another company, Nordic Seafarms, is reportedly producing halibut at a cost of $2.93 a pound and plans to sell it for $4 a pound.

The newspaper said Stolt Sea Farm expects its halibut operation to break even this year after many years of running at a loss, and pegs production at 300 tons this year.

"Developing a new species into a commercial product takes eight to 10 years," said Stolt’s Niels G. Stolt-Nielsen.

According to the Norwegian Seafood Export Council, 37 percent of the halibut produced in Norway is distributed on the national market. The bulk of Norwegian halibut exports is sent to Great Britain, Germany and Sweden.

Seal lions like herring

Seafood.com reports that the scientific journal Nature has a report from the Prince William Sound Science Center stating that Steller sea lions avoid pollock and instead seek out herring.

Infrared scanners tracking sea lions in their nighttime feedings in the Sound revealed the animals only preyed on herring, which gathered at night at depths of 32 to 105 feet, but never touched the pollock, which swim at depths of more than 325 feet day or night.

"Despite the much greater abundance of pollock, the infrared system revealed that foraging by Stellers was exclusively on herring and was conducted only at night," said Gary Thomas and Richard Thorne of the Prince William Sound Science Center.

According to Seafood.com, "This finding supports other evidence that the decline in the population of the endangered sea lions is not related to the Alaska pollock fishery."


11/12/2016 - 5:55pm