Another Nor Easter on the way will effect both price and availability
Another large storm is approaching the North East and will create storm force winds for Wednesday through Thursday offshore on Georges Bank and into the Gulf of Maine. Besides heavy seas and wind in excess of 50 knots there will be freezing spray, which creates treacherous conditions for any vessel fishing. This winter pattern continues to repeat with large storms for a couple of days followed by calming seas and then another storm. The differences this year has been the freezing temperatures and severity of the storms. According to NOAA this pattern will continue to repeat until the upper level jet stream changes.
Last week the big storm raised havoc with the fishing fleet, but a few large draggers and scallop boats did manage to get out right after the storm passed. The last couple of days some of the smaller boats have been fishing, but landings have been tight for most species except Haddock.
Another Nor Easter will hit the fishing grounds Wednesday and Thursday driving the fleet into shore. Landings will increase for a day or two and then drop off until the boats can manage to get back out to fish. Haddock landings have been decent when boats can fish, but prices have fluctuated with supply. Other species remain very limited and prices very high.
The past couple of weeks I have recommended that at this time of year customers switch from fresh to Frozen at seas [FAS] products. The advantage is a steady supply at reasonable prices and great quality if the product is from Long Line boats.
With another huge storm expected for this week the scallop fleet will come into port to avoid being caught out to sea in bad weather. Supply of domestic scallops has been limited and prices have remained extremely high with some lower prices on scallops from the Delmarva area south of the Hudson canyon. These scallops are not as good as product from the North East Channel or Georges Bank. Many smaller boats are not fishing or only managing a day or two because of the frequency of bad weather and supply is limited from these day boats.
I want to re-state the following for the 2011 season there will be a reduction in fishing days from 38 days to 32 in the open areas. There will be 4 allotted trips in the closed areas, as follows: 1 each in Delmarva, Hudson Canyon, Area 1 and Area 2. The Elephant Trunk is expected to be closed for a few years in order to let the stocks rebuild. Overall landings are expected to be around 50 million pounds, which would be a 10% total reduction from 2010.
In Canada the small boat fleet from Digby Nova Scotia to Campobello Island New Brunswick has been fishing in the new open area. The catch has been mostly a small run of scallops in the 30/40 to 40/50 size range. Quality has been excellent from the day boat fishery in the Bay of Fundy, but landings have been light. Last week the weather forced boats into port ahead of the storm and again the approaching storm will force the fleet into shore. The large offshore boats have already returned to port to avoid being caught in the storm offshore and supply will be light the next few days.
Japanese scallop supply is extremely limited and product that is available will be used as re-freshed dry product or sold frozen. Prices remain very high for all sizes and types of Japanese scallops. Supply will remain limited until the summer of 2011.
Mexican scallop supply is extremely tight and very expensive, there currently is no harvesting and the Government has not yet set quotas for 2011.
Peruvian scallop season has started but demand from Europe has remained strong for Roe on product. Prices have continued to rise despite increased landings. The harvest this year has been very good, but sizes have been larger than expected. The conservation measures taken by the Peruvian Government during the last decade has resulted in mature beds of scallops yielding larger sized scallops. This has created a shortage of the traditional sizes in the 50 t0 80 and smaler count range.
Philippine scallops continue to be offered in limited quantities from traders and brokers, but prices are very high and supply limited.
Chinese scallops are available in decent quantities, but prices have risen along with all other scallops being offered.
Much of the Norwegian Long Line Fleet is currently fishing on Cod in the Northern Latitudes. Some of the boat owners decided to remain fishing for Haddock and the auction in Norway is expecting landings at the beginning of February. This could be good news if the landings are substantial and the price could actually drop a little, but with a very weak American dollar the price delivered to the USA will probably remain the same or increase a little. Supply for early spring Haddock should meet expected landings and now that Long Line Haddock in Norway has been MSC certified. Demand from Europe has increased.
Alaskan Long Line Cod season is underway and landings are expected to be slightly higher than last year during the A season. The weak American dollar has attracted Asian buyers. Prices may not increase much above the current levels unless demand increases from Europe. Landings and quotas for Atlantic Cod have been increased in Norway, Russia and Iceland it is doubtful demand from Europe will be strong.
East Coast Halibut has been very scarce as the large Long Line boats have not been able to string together enough days between storms. With limited landings prices will remain high until the weather improves.
West Coast supply is limited to frozen inventories from 2010 and prices are extremely high. The 2011 season will start March 15th, but quotas for 2011 have been cut by 19%,
East Coast Salmon supply from farms in Canada and Maine has dropped off because of the back to back storms which make harvesting conditions almost impossible. Prices have increased and some sizes are in limited supply. With another storm approaching there will be most likely be problems emptying pens. Supply from Chile, Scotland and Norway are limited and prices are very strong.
West Coast frozen H&G fish or frozen Salmon fillets, remain available but in limited quantities. Prices are very high for frozen products and will remain strong until the new season starts in 2011.
With another storm approaching, supply of clams and mussels could tighten dramatically over the next few days. Many clam diggers and mussel harvesters will not venture out during the storm and with frigid temperatures, digging for clams is dangerous. Shelf life for clams and mussels can be shortened because live clams can freeze or die in the extreme cold temperatures. The Department of fisheries will test product after the storm before allowing clamming and mussel harvesting to continue.
Swordfish supply remains very tight with limited landings from American boats. Imported fish are also in short supply and will remain tight over the next week.
Landings of tuna have been limited with most product originating form the Gulf or West Coast. At this time of year imported tuna makes up the bulk of product being sold.
Have a great week, eat seafood and stay warm and dry.