THIS WEEK IN SEAFOOD 5/13/19 by Tim Sughrue

THIS WEEK IN SEAFOOD 5/13/19 by Tim Sughrue

  1. CHESAPEAKE BAY BLUE CRAB POPULATION VERY HEALTHY! l Governor Hogan was proud to announce the results of the winter dredge survey showing the blue crab population is up 60% from 2018. Adult females were up 29% to 190 million and adult males were up 38% to 80 million. The juvenile crab population doubled to 324 million crabs. The winter dredge survey is a collaborative effort between the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS).
  2. SOFT SHELL CRAB PRICES FALLING! The “wave” of peeler runs is moving north as expected. Crabs in the Albemarle Sound (Pamlico Sound is finished) are shedding now as are parts of the lower Bay as far north as Crisfield Md come online too. We will be under $40/dz. for jumbos all week. Lots and lots of beautiful crabs are in stock daily. A large blue crab population means a larger soft crab population because part of the population is always shedding their shells in order to grow, as all crustaceans do.
  3. NEW CHINESE TARIFFS KILL TILAPIA & CRABMEAT INDUSTRIES – The new tariffs on Chinese imports last Friday will make importing those items from China nearly impossible. The 25% duty will make them so expensive they will be unable to compete with product from other countries. Tariffs by China on US lobsters and Alaskan salmon have really hurt American fishermen as this trade war escalates.
  4. ARCTIC OCEAN ACIDIFYING FASTER THAN THOUGHT- HOW DOES OCEAN ACIDIFICATION HAPPEN? Fully ONE THIRD of all carbon emissions (cars, trucks, coal fired power plant emissions just to name a few) are absorbed by the ocean. This chemical transfer of CO2 to water creates carbonic acid, hence lowering the PH of the ocean. The dissolution of CO2 into ocean waters uses up the available supply of carbonate, thereby making it more difficult for shellfish to grow. Ocean water is not yet below neutral on the pH scale used to measure acidity, but it has been declining for decades. That has resulted in lower saturations of dissolved calcium-bearing minerals that marine animals need to build shells and bones.
  5. LOCAL MAHI PRICES DROPPING – Local boats are chasing these fast-moving fish and packing out in Hatteras North Carolina as well as Wanchese NC. Prices are dropping and becoming more affordable each week. Don’t delay in putting this fish on your menu. The school will pass by the Outer Banks completely by late June on their journey to Nova Scotia.
  6. LIVE LOBSTER MARKET FALLS 10% THIS WEEK. With Lobster production getting into full swing in several Canadian Maritime provinces after a delayed start, prices are finally falling significantly. Processing houses for lobster tails and lobster meat are going full bore. For the next 6 weeks, Canadian lobstermen will catch as many as they can before their seasons close. Let’s hope it is a great season and tail prices drop substantially.
  7. ATLANTIC SAPPHIRE RAISES $90 MILLION IN MINUTES — The billion dollar Atlantic salmon project in Homestead Florida decided to raise 90 million additional dollars in funding, to increase their final tonnage capacity for raising salmon. It took only 29 minutes for them to raise $90 million. That is testimony to the huge amount of venture capital interest in RAS technology – this is the technology used to grow fish on land. Believe it or not, in just 11 short years, Atlantic Sapphire says they will be raising 50% of the United States consumption of Atlantic salmon on only 40 acres of land in South Florida. That is 500,000,000 pounds of salmon a year! Sound like poppycock? I guess we’ll see. Their first harvest starts in 2020 and that year they will produce over 10,000,000 pounds.
  8. VENEZUELAN HPP FRESH CRABMEAT DROPPING FAST!! Even with restricted flights coming from Venezuela weekly to Miami, the volume of fresh crabmeat hitting the US is too much for current pricing levels. We are back under $20 a pound this week and indications are we will continue to fall in the weeks to come.
  9. FARM RAISED CATFISH FILLETS SCARCE TO NON-EXISTENT!! With the almost constant flooding from storm systems regularly drenching the south, growth rates on pond raised channel cats are severely stunted. The entire industry is rationing product out, cutting orders by over 75%!! NO WORRIES HERE – WE HAVE LOTS AND LOTS OF CHESAPEAKE WILD BLUE CATS and they taste far better than their grain fed, pellet fed cousins.
  10. RAINBOW TROUT PRICE HIKES START THIS WEEK – Both major players in Idaho raised their prices significantly this week. Price increases were in response to the companies battling a virus outbreak all last year. Clear cut fillets are just under the $10 mark now.

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