Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today is a great day for restaurants and a lovely weekend to have seafood on the menu! Next Friday marks the start of Denver Restaurant Week! From February 22 to March 3 Denver and surrounding area restaurants turn into hives of activity as Average Joe gets a chance to dine for less.  Denver Restaurant week is known for its high volumes on stationary menus.  This challenges chefs to create an enticing menu with lesser than normal priced raw materials.  If you are still faced with this challenge, we are happy to help guide you thru our frozen options at a price point, value, and consistency to help you thru Restaurant Week!

Ash Wednesday March 6th is the start of Lent that will end April 18th.  This means that Fat Tuesday is on March 5th, a popular day for Live Crawfish, Southern Redfish, and Louisiana hurricanes.  This year we will have a great selection of large Louisiana Crawfish in 30# units.  We also have Redfish aka Red Drum farmed from Texas, available in 3-8# fish or fillet.  We may have a Louisiana Hurricane, or two, as well but can’t offer you those!

Atlantic Halibut from Nova Scotia Canada are available, and at great prices this winter!  Nova Scotia Halibut range in size from 20-30 lbs and offer excellent large white succulent meat.  An alternative halibut is the smaller California Halibut.  This is normally a good time of year for 5-20# fish with consistent availability from Baja and California.  The California Halibut is much more affordable, has less fat content, and is generally less flaky than Alaskan or Nova Scotia Halibut, but offers a great value for your menu!

The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) had their annual 5 day meeting to determine the total allocation of U.S. and Canadian Pacific Halibut.  IPHC research studies showed that halibut populations are in decline and quota levels should be reduced.  Despite the research, the commission concluded that a slight increase in quota was appropriate with an overall catch limit of 38.61 million pounds.  This increase is not in favor of conservation but is thought to bring peace to a 2018 dispute between Canada and US.   

Last season we saw excellent prices in Alaskan Halibut but anticipate these prices to increase for the 2019 season.  2018 had a surplus of frozen inventory that kept major processors out of the market until their inventories were depleted.  2019 inventories will need to be restocked, and at that point a spike in pricing is likely to occur.  It may be a season where Halibut prices are better in the beginning of the year and increase to the November close.

Dungeness Crab Season is fully open in California, Washington, and Oregon and we have received intermittent shipments of whole cooked and fresh Dungeness crab meat.

Stone Crab supply has been minimal with very low catch rates and high prices from Florida.  The season remains open till May 15th, there is plenty of time for the catch to improve.   

Opilio Snow Crab Season opens April 9th in Eastern Canada.  The live crab season creates frozen production that builds up an annual supply of snow crab.  Unfortunately, Opilio stocks have been declining, quotas will be reduced again, and prices will likely rise again.  Last Year, MSC de-certified Canadian snow crab in the Gulf of St. Lawrence due to Right Wale gear entanglement and deaths. There are around 400 Right Wales left on the planet and gear entanglements are becoming a major issue for both the Crab and Lobster industry. 

The Lobster industry is facing many challenges: China’s relentless demands, Right Wale gear entanglement, and decreasing herring quotas.  Large live lobster, Coldwater tails, and Warmwater lobster tail prices are at new highs and we don’t anticipate prices to be relieved until the summer months. That said, it is strangely a great time for Lobster Rolls!  Lobster meat prices continue to drop in this awkward lobster market.  Hopefully we see gear advancements in the Crab and Lobster industry to protect the Right Wales, but this will likely mean an additional price increase.

The New England Fisheries Management Council has bi-monthly meetings to assess fisheries information and make recommendations to NOAA who creates regulations and enforces them through state legislature.  NOAA re-opened areas previously closed for marine rehabilitation in 2018.  These areas will continue to have limited harvest for 2019.  The large domestic scallops taken from these newly opened areas are not as plentiful, but the ability to have more areas to work will be in the favor of market prices. The 2018 scallop harvest was a record year, and we anticipate a large harvest for 2019 as well.    

Mahi Mahi and Corvina from South America have had consistent catch.  Traditionally February is a great month for Mahi Mahi. We haven’t seen Mahi Mahi prices this low in years! Take advantage while they are still in season.  As the weather warms, Mahi Mahi tend to move to deeper waters where they are harder to find.  We do have some very nice and inexpensive frozen Mahi options available when the fresh season slows down.

Baja Corvina, California White Seabass, California Halibut, and Yellowtail Jack from Baja Mexico start showing up this time of year.  As weather begins to warm, look for great values on these fish!

Farmed commodities Chilean Salmon prices are slightly up beginning February.  Canadian commodity salmon also taking a slight price increase this month.  As commodities salmon prices rise it’s a great time to step-up to a more sustainable and healthier farmed salmon.  We now carry 60 South Salmon from the coldest waters in the world at the southernmost part of Chile.  Sixty South Salmon are cared for their entire life-cycle without antibiotics or chemical cleaners for the tanks and nets they live within. Their cold-water environment promotes the storage of fat in their bodies, making for the rich marbled white lines within a fillet that is comparable to Scottish Salmon.  We are excited about this new salmon and hope you will give it a try for your retail, restaurant, or sushi needs.

The spring equinox is officially March 20, marking the first day of Spring.  Fisheries begin to turn the corner, halibut season re-opens, Baja fisheries flourish, Scallop quotas are re-set, and fish start becoming more plentiful in general. 

We look forward to the spring flowers and sunshine, but more importantly we appreciate your business and look forward to working with you thru the changing seasons!

Chad Pettrone
Sustainability Director

Northeast Seafood