King and snow crab fisheries to receive federal assistance
Disaster relief for the Bristol Bay king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries was approved and funded in the recent federal spending bill. Next steps include the state of Alaska drafting a spending plan for how the funds will be shared. Once approved by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), fishermen will be able to submit applications to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to receive funds.
Other fisheries generally strong
Pacific cod, Amendment 80 groundfish, halibut and sablefish fisheries all benefited from favorable supply conditions and strong markets in 2022 and expectations are for this to continue in 2023. Dungeness crab fisheries between Cape Arago to Cape Falcon, OR will open Jan. 15, followed by those between Cape Falcon and Klipsan Beach, WA on Feb. 1. Openings were delayed due to low meat recovery rates (harvest yields) and high levels of domoic acid (a naturally occurring toxin produced by algae).
International conditions mixed
There are a number of international developments that may impact fisheries. The U.S. dollar has weakened approximately 9% since mid-October, as measured by the DXY Index, and this should improve exporters’ access to foreign markets. China, the second largest export market for U.S. fishermen and a key global fish processing hub, is facing a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections and political instability. While still early, this may eventually reduce demand and interrupt supply chains. Europe’s seafood industry may seek to export more in 2023 as consumers struggle with high inflation and the Euro remains weak by historical standards. This would increase global seafood supplies.
Steel prices fall
Steel prices (a primary input for ship building) surged in 2020 during the pandemic. While much of this was due to disrupted supply chains, large-scale purchases in 2021 were made in anticipation of long-term supply constraints and this led to excess inventories. In 2022, large inventories and lower demand caused prices to fall significantly. Falling steel prices should reduce the cost to repair and build fishing vessels.