Welcome to 2016!  January has started as a slow month for seafood but next month the Super Bowl Feb 7th, Marti Gras Feb 9th, Lent Feb 10th, and Valentine’s Day Feb 14th.  We do plan on bringing in fresh crawfish for your Marti Gras needs.  Crawfish live in the spillway area of Louisiana that is best fished in low water times.  Currently water levels are higher than average, but it is too early to predict the availability of the product for Mari Gras.  If we cannot get a full supply of fresh crawfish we do have a great selection of frozen whole cooked, or crawfish tail meat available in anticipation of this year’s crawfish demands.  Lent should bring more fish eaters to the table, and of course Valentine’s Day will bring swarms of couples out for the weekend of the 13th.

Here is the latest market news in seafood:

West Coast

Alaskan True Cod Fisheries opened Jan 1st with a Total Allowable Catch for 2016 set at 71,925 metric tons which is very close to 2015 TAC.  Weather pending we will have a consistent supply of fresh Alaskan Cod.  If winter storms and freezing winds keep boats tied up in the harbor, we will have a refreshed (previously frozen) Alaskan cod to keep a consistent supply available.  We also have 8-16oz frozen cod from Kodiak, AK if you’d like to thaw it yourself.

Pacific Halibut fisheries will be assessed in the coming weeks for seasonal quotas for 2016.  The IPHC is a collaboration of Washington, Oregon, Canadian and Alaskan Halibut fisheries to assess the catch rates per fishing area through 2015, and make a decision to increase or decrease the total allowable catch for 2016.   Female spawning biomass is a large indication of the health of the fishery.  Trends since 2010 have shown pacific halibut fisheries are consistent.

Alaskan Pollock season starts Jan 20th with the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska making up the majority of the global Pollock catch.  Pollock is the #1 largest commercially harvested fish in the United States.  Most Pollock is used for surimi, fish sticks, and roe, but an interesting side-fact: new science is finding Pollock skin can be used medically as an adhesive to seal holes in lungs or other organs – try some Pollock skin as a band aid!  The total catchable biomass within the Bering sea is close to 7 million metric tons, but to continue a sustainable fishery, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council has capped the fishery at 2 million metric tons.  If you want to be a part of USA’s #1 harvested fish.  Try our frozen Alaskan Pollock, it’s very inexpensive, very sustainable, and is perfect for fish and chips.

King Crab fisherman like those on Deadliest Catch have been out in the Bering Sea bringing back delicious Alaskan Red King Crab.  We currently have a selection of both Alaskan and Russian Red King Crab, there is a $2-$4 difference in the market price between Alaskan and Russian, if you are willing to pay for the increase price for Alaskan, please let us know.  The price difference is mostly due to the cost in fisheries management fees, boat fees, captain fees, port fees, and cost of US labor vs Russia.  We’d like to support US labor and Alaskan fisheries, but we understand our customers need to keep costs low, so we offer both.

Dungeness Crab fisheries are open in Oregon, Washington, and parts of California.  Our first shipment of fresh Dungeness crab meat as well as whole cooked Dungeness crab arrived last weekend and we plan to keep your desires met with more this weekend.  We have also repurchased frozen Dungeness crab clusters, which are the knuckle and leg sections of the crab.  There are uncertainties within the Dungeness crab market as the season opened later than expected and catch numbers are coming back lower than anticipated…in other words, buy now! While supplies last!

California White Seabass arrives for Friday deliveries.  These fish are farmed in the Gulf of California, are sushi grade, and are very versatile to cook with.  California White Seabass are firm enough to grill, but tender enough for ceviche, they are light in oil content so also sauté very nicely.   The fish arrive 4-6# head on and can be bought whole or fillet.

East Coast

Wild Striped bass from Chesapeake Bay season is open and should remain open thru April.  This will be the 3rd year that Maryland has switched from a derby-style Pooled management system to an Individual Transferable Quota system.  The ITQ system accounts for each fish caught by requiring a tag that can be transferred to another boater if needed.  The new system limits overharvesting and allows flexible scheduling for captains to gear up and leave port during safe fishing conditions.  There are hopes that the new tagging system will increase the average size fish caught in the Chesapeake Bay area thru selective harvesting.

Black seabass is back on the market.  The meat of the Black seabass is delicate and rich in fat giving a very nice sweet flavor.  Fish size ranges from 1-4# and availability fluctuates.

Nova Scotia Halibut fisheries are still catching halibut.  Fresh Atlantic halibut is a premium this time of year, if you are not willing to pay the cost of fresh, we do have a previously frozen Alaskan halibut available.

Gulf

Red Snapper season has re-opened but fishing has been poor and unpredictable.  We will continue to purchase what is available.  The shortage of fish has caused prices to increase.

Lane snapper has been slightly more plentiful, we will continue to purchase 1-2# Head On Snapper as well as larger 4#+ fish for fillets.

Gulf Mexican Grouper fisheries has announced a 2 month conservation moratorium to cease all grouper fishing for the months of February and March.  We are expecting grouper to become tough and expensive to find in the coming months.

USA Farm Raised

We are bringing in farmed sturgeon from Idaho.  These fish are 8-15# bullets, which means no head, no tail, and fully cleaned.  Sturgeon are farmed for caviar and often the males are sold for their meat when gender can be determined.  Sturgeon are a very sustainable product as seafood lovers often want caviar, and forget about the abundant male sturgeon that populate these facilities.  Give sturgeon a try and let your guests know they are eating a fresh, local, and sustainable product.

Hawaii

We are receiving some very nice tuna from Hawaiian markets including sushi grade big eye, yellowfin, and albacore.  We are getting consistent offers of Striped Marlin, Spearfish, and Blue Marlin.  Please let us know your interests and we can bring in the Hawaiian fish you’ve been looking for.

South America

Mahi Mahi from Ecuador and Cost Rica are fluctuating but should continue to be plentiful.  We are anticipating a price decrease in the coming months.  This is a great time of year to feature a mahi mahi on your menu!

 

Happy New Year!

Chad Pettrone
Sustainability Director

Northeast Seafood