Spring is here! Lent continues to Easter April 16th, Passover begins on the 10th and ends the 18th, and our mountain towns will be saying goodbye to another great ski season.  We’ve got a lot a wonderful wild seafood options available in April.  As we move into the warmer months the weather will be more favorable for fisherman, and the consistency of wild seafood availability will increase.

Halibut season in in full swing.   Prices have started out very reasonable, so don’t be shy with putting the fish on the menu.  We are currently flying Alaskan Halibut direct from Anchorage, offering beautiful fresh product.

Spring Walleye season is here!  Great Lakes Walleye are available and should remain available till the water temperatures warm in the summer months.  Walleye is available in both spring and fall when the fish are closer to the shorelines in the Great Lakes.

Wild Black Cod will become more consistently available, as it is often a bycatch to Halibut fishing.  Alaskan Cod, Rockfish, Dover Sole, Petrale Sole, and occasionally Rex will become more readily available as seasons change, winds calm, and weather warms.

Soft Shell Crab season started in April of last year. Normally crab fisherman say the first full moon in May, but if the season is early again, we may have some soft shells at the end of the month.  We bring in fresh dressed Chesapeake Bay soft shell blue crab in Prime and Jumbo sizes, and plan to bring a consistent variety of live and dressed soft shells as the season moves into the summer months.

From Baja, Mexico we continue to source low priced Corvina Seabass – if you’re looking for a deal, this is it; but the season ends without warning, so be ready to sub when they are gone. Often when the Corvina leave the Gulf of California, the Yellowtail Jack become more readily available and offer a favorably priced substitute.

California White Seabass is a firm white fish that is Best Choice rated by Seafood Watch.  The season is picking up and offers a great substitute to Mahi Mahi as we should see good numbers of fish, lower prices, and nice big fillets from 10# + fish.

California Halibut catches can be consistent this time of year.  Unfortunately, most people are more excited about the northern cousin in Alaska.  The smaller California Halibut ranges from 5# – 15# and offers a good value to customers.

Florida Gulf to South America are heating up as the February and March Moratorium on Grouper have ended.  This Moratorium is to protect the fishery during spawning months.

Mahi Mahi has had poor catches this winter for the second year in a row.  As we move into mid-April the season in Taiwan starts heating up for Mahi Mahi.  We may see prices drop a little, so don’t count out Mahi season yet.  If you use frozen Mahi Mahi, expect prices to increase, normally there is a time in the year when Mahi is plentiful and frozen processors can capitalize on the surplus. 2016 did not see a low point, frozen Mahi prices have increased.  If the Taiwan fishery produces a surplus of fish, we may see a relief to these prices.

Hawaii has been catching great numbers of fish: Kajiki, Hebi, Nagiri, Ono, Opah, Swordfish and Albacore all available.

Swordfish prices should become more consistent in April as lent comes to a close and demands are more predictable.  Swordfish catches normally follow the moon phases, making some parts of the month better for fishing than others. This monthly cycle can make swordfish prices rock back and forth, but we do our best to offer you a consistent price that is fair for everyone.

Wild Salmon season does not start till late May – Try our Ora King Salmon, or Atlantic Sapphire Salmon that are both Best Choice Rated by Seafood Watch!

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) have acted to protect Oregon and California troll King (Chinook) salmon fisheries.  Oregon fisheries from Cape Falcon to the California Border would normally have opened March 15, but will remain close.  The heat waves and drought 3-5 years ago effected this year’s Chinook Salmon run.  Wild Salmon management is not easy, and always unpredictable.  It normally comes down to fisheries managers sitting on a bridge and counting salmon, or a wildlife officer flying overhead in a plane to guesstimate how many fish are spawning and what the outcome will be 3-5 years later.

Copper River salmon fishery opens in mid-May.  Predictions on returning salmon are low, this will be a limited harvest, but there will be sockeye and a few kings available.  June will be a more consistent time for salmon as other fisheries open.  More to come in the May newsletter.

Pasteurized Blue Crab prices are going up, especially in the larger Jumbo Lump and Colossal sizes.  Price increases could go up as much as $3 per pound on largest sizes.  As alternative to Blue Swimmer Crab we also carry the lesser priced Red Swimmer crab.  Red Swimmer crab meat is a little dryer in texture and flavor, but if you plan to season to taste, fry, and/or put cheese on it, then you might as well save the money.

Canadian Snow Crab prices are determined this time of year. Eastern Canadian fisheries off the coasts of Newfoundland and within the Gulf of St Lawrence had rumors of increasing fishing quotas for 2017.  The first Ice breaking ship attempted to free harbors in the Gulf of St Lawrence from the 4 ft thick ice, but was unsuccessful for the April opener.  The Canadian Department of Fisheries announced on 4-3-17 that the overall quota will decrease by 22%.  The currently high cost of snow crab does not have the reprieve fisherman and wholesalers were hoping for.

Prince Edward Island Canadian lobster season opens the beginning of May but expectations are that Eastern Asian markets will be purchasing most of the markets whole cooked lobsters.  Live lobster prices continue to increase and Maine lobster fisherman are wanting to cash in on foreign export deals like Canada.  The Asian markets unrelenting demand and willingness to pay absurd prices is going to be a problem for the US market.  Lobster prices continue to rise.

Octopus demands are growing and we offer 4 options.  The least expensive is China processed octopus is various sizes.  Next is the “baby” octopus, these are actually ADULT octopus from Thailand that stay small and grow fast.  There isn’t enough information about the fishery to be certain, but it is thought to be a sustainable fishery because of the short growth cycle of these small octopus.  The third option is our very affordable pretenderized Spanish octopus in both 4-6# and 6-8# sizes, these are the most common octopus (species: vulgaris) on the market.  If you want to step up your game, we have a very unique octopus from Fremantle, Australia (species: tetricus) that is a limited annual harvest and under MSC sustainable fisheries application process.  Here is more info on our one of a kind Fremantle Octopus

I hope this helps you create the perfect Spring menu!
Chad Pettrone
Sustainability Director
Northeast Seafood