3-Minute Market Insight
EP 371 | Aired January 29, 2018
Lower Quota, Smaller & Less Female Fish - Will There be Pollock in the PWS this Year?

January 29, 2018 - Today we are going to talk about Alaskan Pollock. Pollock Fishing began in the Prince William Sound last week, alongside a dramatic quota decrease for this season's fishery. The Guideline harvest levels for Prince William Sound Pollock has decreased annually since 2016, sometimes closing early when bycatch levels were met.

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The 2018 Harvest level is set at 7.1 million pounds, down 25 percent from last year's harvest level. Harvests have also decreased annually since 2015, notably in 2017 when harvests were only 44 percent of the quota. Last year the fishery was targeted by 8 vessels and lasted 71 days after closing by regulation - this year we anticipate a quick season as several large processors have begun fishing at the opening on January 20th. Reasons for lower harvests in recent years are twofold - low female percentages and low fish weights. The sex ratio in 2017 was the second lowest on record at only 22 percent female, causing concern for fleets and buyers. Average Pollock weights in the Prince William Sound in 2017 were 1.3 pounds, the lowest average weight since 1995 and nearly half the typical average weight of 2.4 pounds.

--- The recovery on a 1.3 lb Pollock in the round yields a skinless boneless fillet of about 2.9 oz. It's no surprise then that larger fillet sizes had a price premium of almost $1.00 per pound for the past year.

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Larger Pollock was caught in the Bering Sea and the Gulf last year, so we did see some 4-6oz and even 6-8oz fillets come to market. 2-4oz Shatterpack pollock fillets are currently round $2.05 - $2.10 per pound on the West Coast, with 4-6oz fillets reaching $2.85 per pound. Based on low female ratios and an even lower quota for 2018, we anticipate a smaller harvest for 2018. Expect the price gap between 2-4oz and 4-6oz fillets to close a little bit if the Gulf and Bering Sea produce larger Pollock too.

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