The global seafood industry will experience lasting impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, including reduced demand and pricing.
The biggest red salmon run in the world is building at Bristol Bay. Up to 50 million fish could surge into its eight river systems in coming weeks, on par with past seasons. When it’s all done, the fishery will provide nearly half the global supply of wild sockeye salmon. But this summer is different.
Unexpected upheavals stemming from the coronavirus have slowed the process of getting relief payments into the hands of fishermen and communities hurt by the 2018 Gulf of Alaska cod crash.
All systems are “go” for keeping close tabs on fish and crab stocks in waters managed by the state, meaning out to three miles. While constraints from the coronavirus resulted in nearly all annual stock surveys being cut in deeper waters overseen by the federal government, it’s “closer to normal” closer to shore.
In what they called an “unprecedented” move, NOAA Fisheries announced in late May that five Alaska surveys will be cancelled this summer “due to the uncertainties created by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the unique challenges those are creating for the agency.”
Recycled fishing nets from Cordova will soon help launch a new clothing line by Grundens, the maker of the iconic foul weather gear “built by fishermen for fishermen for over a century.”
A rapid response by nearly 800 Alaska fishermen will provide a guideline for giving them a hand up as the coronavirus swamps their operations.
Giving COVID relief funds to the seafood industry and stepping on the gas for offshore fish farming are two big takeaways from the executive orders and congressional packages coming out of the nation’s capital.
Sales of Alaska’s most popular seafoods are being hit hard by markets upended by the coronavirus, but perhaps none is getting battered worse than halibut. Along with the big losses in the lucrative restaurant trade, Pacific halibut also is facing headwinds from increasing foreign imports.
The value of Alaska salmon permits is another casualty of the coronavirus with prices dropping for all fisheries across the state. There are a lot of permits for sale — and the most offers ever to lease permits, especially at Bristol Bay.