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3-Minute Market Insight

EP 490 | AIRED 06/01/2020

Albacore Tuna Fishery and Markets - Landings, COVID-19, South vs North Pacific Albacore Tuna

June 1st, 2020 --- In this week's episode we provide a 2020 update on the Albacore Tuna Fishery and Markets

2019 was another status quo harvest year for the North Pacific Albacore Tuna fisheries with US landings reaching almost 7800 metric tonnes and Canadian landings at 2400 metric tonnes.

Fishery managers were hopeful for higher landings, however catches were considered below average - about 30 percent short of the 25 year averages of these fisheries, of 11,500 for the US and 4400 metric tonnes for Canada.

The fishery typically runs from June to October starting up as soon as the Tuna are seen in Oregon, and follow their migration route up to British Columbia, Canada.

While the 2020 season has yet to begin, the industry's focus has been trying to work through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic where it has dampened much of what is happening in fishing, marketing, and management.

Current Pacific Albacore Tuna Landings

The effects of the virus have resulted in limited outlets for the fresh market, a hiatus on Albacore exports, as well as fishery meetings and trade show cancellations.

Though not all is doom and gloom, as canned Tuna cleared retail shelves, resulting in significant demand to re-stock.

In past seasons, the US fleets would be responsbile for production split between canned and blast frozen markets, whereas 100 percent of Canadian fleets production would go to the blast markets.

The following is a response from Wayne Heikkila, Executive Director of the Western Fishboat Owners Association,

"What this all means for the upcoming Albacore troll season is anyone’s guess at this point. Worldwide supply of albacore has been below normal and low in certain regions before the virus hit.

Maybe if restrictions on restaurants are eased, we may see more opportunity in July and August.

Demand for cannery fish may stay high as they restock their supply, but canneries also have to grapple with finding ways to social distance in the plants themselves."

In talking to Lorne Clayton, Executive Director of the Canadian Highly Migratory Species Foundation, he advises that as things open up it's expected that domestic restaurants will have Tuna on the menu as it's common during this season.

International Trade Shows like Boston and Brussels that have cancelled will see Exporters using old connections to get the market started again.

As for South Pacific Albacore Tuna, Wayne advised that it was a good year for the 19 West Coast based boats that went to the South Pacific, and that they had good blast markets until Covid hit, which saw some of the fish sold in the canned market at lower prices.

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--- Moving onto a marketplace tip we addressed last year, of buyers unknowingly purchasing cheaper South Pacific Albacore Tuna versus the higher priced North Pacific Albacore Tuna that has a higher oil content and flavor profile.

North and South Pacific Albacore share the same scientfic name of Thunnus Alalunga and share a very similar appearance but vary largely in size, flavour and price.

Many vendors trying to make a quick buck off uneducated customers are selling this product as Albacore Tuna Product of Canada or USA.

South Pacific Albacore is a larger fish, and importers are cutting down these loins to a pound then boxing them up as 1-2lb loins, as a product of Canada or USA.

To find out more about this, check out our Uncovering Albacore Tuna Deception on the West Coast" episode in this link.

Our recommendation to you is if you want to ensure you are getting North Pacific Albacore Tuna is to ask your supplier to confirm the Catch Area.

But undeniably, the easiest way to ensure you a getting what you pay for is to purchase your seafood requirements from a Top Tier company like Tradex Foods.

With Tradex as your seafood supplier, you'll never have to worry about quality, mislabelled seafood, or if you're paying fair market pricing - buying seafood through Tradex Foods is easy as dropping a line.

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