Seafood this Week: Monday, October 14, 2019

Seafood this Week: Monday, October 14, 2019

1. DOMINANT YEAR CLASS OF SABLEFISH IN BERING SEA OFF ALASKA – Alaskan fishermen are seeing record numbers of young Black cod (also known as sablefish) in their forays into the ocean. The size of this year class of fish, spawned in 2014, is estimated TWICE the size of the previous record class spawned in 1977. Unfortunately, this is leading to many tons of accidental catches of young black cod by various gear types, with the worst offenders being trawlers. I have a friend who was an observer for NMFS on a Bering Sea trawler in the 1990’s. He said when they towed the net for 2 hours and brought it up on deck, out of say 10 tons of fish caught in the 2 hour tow, 4 TONS (40%) were NOT COD !! They were wild salmon (kings sockeyes chums pinks), halibut, flatfish and various other groundfish species. All are thrown back overboard DEAD. I checked with a source on Kodiak Island last week and the % of discards has not changed in 20 years so lets do the numbers. 2019 Bering Sea quota for trawl caught cod fish was 216,000 metric tons (1 metric ton = 2204.62 lbs). 

If 216 metric tons represents 60% of the catch, that means that the total catch was 360,000 metric tons and a whopping 144 metric tons was DISCARDED !!! 144 MT EQUALS 317 MILLION POUNDS OF FISH WASTED – let that number sink into your brain – I had heard that 66% of all the ALASKAN HALIBUT caught in the Bering Sea are discarded – I can believe it based on those numbers – we are killing the fish our future generations will depend on with these destructive fishing techniques !!

2. VENEZUELAN FRESH CRABMEAT STARTS NEXT WEEK !! Pots go in the water tomorrow and crab picking will start Thursday – first shipments will arrive Miami this weekend to get HPP treated. In years past, and this year should be no exception, the influx of large amounts of fresh crabmeat into a slowing market will provide DOLLARS OF RELIEF in jumbo lump and lump pricing. If you can promote it, the entire month of November jumbo lump will be sub $20, most likely averaging $16-$17 for the month FYI –

3. MAHI PRICING GETTING BACK TO NORMAL – as the fish migrate back to Central American waters within range of the small dayboat fishermen, landings are increasing and prices are becoming more attractive. Fillets are sub $12 and will continue to fall for the rest of October.

4. PRETTY PRETTY SWORDFISH !!! We use the expression, “fire engine red bloodlines” to describe these beautiful, triple marker (300 pounders) North Atlantic swordfish this time of year. They are fat from furiously feeding up to make their long migrational journey to Puerto Rico (the Caribbean) from New England waters. Very affordable too!!

5. HAVE YOU TRIED ROYAL BASS YET ? This is a great fall menu item. If a sweet white fleshed fish is what you like to eat, Royal Bass is a sure thing. It is the native Mediterranean Corvina farmed in the opens sea off the coast of Turkey. Unlike the Bronzino and the Dorade from this region, Royal Bass comes in larger sizes. They average 4-5 lbs each. They are a fast growing fish. (They can grow to over 100 lbs in the wild) The skin is an added bonus. It crisps up nicely offering you a crunch to combine with the succulent flesh. Use it for ceviche, tiraditos, tartar, roast, bake, sauté, grill or broil. You will not be disappointed. At $11.95 for fillets, it is very affordable.

6. LOCAL FLOUNDERS ARE AN EXTREME VALUE !!! All your customers recognize and love flounder, so why not feature this great local fish packed in Virginia Beach Virginia. Hand cut fillets sub $11

7. FRESH SHRIMP IN THE HONGA RIVER ????? (Chesapeake Bay) !!!! In yet another sign of climate change, local crabbers in the Honga River (Dorchester county) are catching jumbo fresh shrimp in their crab pots !! One guy had 2 shrimp measuring 12″ inches each !! Another enterprising waterman, drove his skiff close to the shoreline and when he saw shrimp jump out of the water around the grass beds, he would turn around and throw a cast net on them. He caught 100 lbs of fresh shrimp doing just that !!! Last January I was visiting the Outer Banks and the North Carolina shrimp fleet, in the ocean, was sitting on the Va/NC line catching the hell out of Chesapeake Bay shrimp leaving the Bay !!! Boats were averaging 30,000 lb trips in only three days of fishing!

8. IT’S RAW OYSTER TIME !!!! As the weather cools, demand for raw oysters picks up dramatically. Make sure you are fully stocked with any of our 30 different varieties from around the country. From 50 cents to $1.50 each, we have what your customers want.

9. DAYBOAT YELLOWTAIL SNAPPERS !!! It is a rare treat to get these beautiful 2/4 lb yellowtail snappers still in rigor. Hook & line fish – natural fillets make a perfect 8-10 oz portion – $14.95

10. LIVE LOBSTER PRICING CONTINUES TO CLIMB – Last year this time, Inland Lobster (large wholesaler in Portland that packs 20k/day lobster) had 80,000 lbs of TCK frozen inventory in their freezer. This year ? ZERO – That pretty well sums up the state of the lobster business today. Maine catch is trending 30% LESS than last year. With 30% less raw material, lobster tail prices, already at record levels, are headed even higher. 7-8’s and 8-10’s, if you can find them, are over $30 per pound now. Picked frozen lobster meat, CK & TCK, is headed higher also. The next big open lobster season is December 1 in Canada. Happy Holidays !

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