El Nino drives down landings ;farmed competition kills the price ,Pacific whiting is affected
American and Canadian West Coast whiting trawlers are fishing on a coastwise total allowable catch of 497,500 metric tons of 2016 .That´s a 13 percent gain over last year´s TAC of 440,000 metric tons .In the allocation split of the TAC between the two countries ,the U.S fleet´s share comes to 367,553 metric tons with the remaining 129,947 metric tons going to Canada .
The increase rides on the most recent stocl assessments that included additional information from age compositions in the fishery of 2015 and a re-evaluation surveys from a period streching from 1998 to 2013.
Suffice it to say that the stock is healthy .According to the Pacific Fishery Managemet Council´s status report ,which came out in March ,biomass is the highest since 1990 , and the driving force behind the positive numbers lie with huge age classes of fish born in 2010 and 2014 .
That isný to say that all is hunkydory with hake.Last year ´s El Nino and a giant warm-water blob that surged its way close to shore made the fish extremely hard to find in what had previously been top production areas .
In 2015 in the U.S sector of the fishery ,trawlers landed 58.01 milionn metric tons.At ex-vessel prices of 8 cent per pound that shook out to $9.71 milion in revenues ,according to Pacific Fisheries Information Network data .In 2014 ,the fleet was treated to a harvest of 98.83 milion metric tons of 11 cents per pound for revenues of $23.71 milion .
The shortage of product would seem to suppport higher ex-vessel prices in the markets .But hake remains a tough prouduct to move in light of aquaculture fish raised in other countries ,according to Scott Adams operations and production manager with Hallmark Fisheries , in Charleston ,Ore.
“There´s too much farmed fish out there ” ,he says .”Catfish .Tilapia .Theyre all competing , and it´s kicking our butts with all of that cheap stuff out there “.