Monday, January 27, 2014

Halibut Quota

For you halibut fans out there, this year's Pacific season will be a mixed bag.  Many feared that quota cuts were going to take the total allowable catch (TAC) below 25 million pounds, a number that would really put a strain on supply and raise prices dramatically.  The good news is that this did not happen as the TAC is above 27 million pounds.  The bad news is that this number is still down 11% from last year's quota.  That means that you shouldn't sweat whether or not halibut will be available fresh for us living on the East Coast, but you most likely won't be paying any less for quality product this year.  There have been quota cuts on Pacific halibut for several years in a row now as the management council continues to strive to reach equilibrium between fish being harvested and big fish remaining in the water.  These cuts raise prices at the cash register, but are necessary to protect the resource and ensure that the species has an opportunity flourish.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lobster Prices; What To Expect

Valentine's Day is just around the corner and, for most of you sweethearts out there, that means you begin the search for that special seafood item that embodies the American love story; live, cold water lobster.  Many of you will take your date out for fine dining and be served delicious course after course, though often in rapid fire, as this time of the year is one of the busiest for all restaurant establishments.  Couple that with the fact that this year V-day is on a Friday, and you have the perfect recipe for over-crowded tables and maddening wait lists.  Some of you, though, being the hopeless romantics of the world, will opt for a private dinner at home, just you and your mate and that special third party: the live lobster.

So here's an update to all you cupids out there, whether you are dining in or risking life and limb and dining out, on just what to expect when the bill comes after you order that crustacean sensation.  This time of year is rough for Maine fishermen.  When water temperatures are very low lobsters are lethargic and move about as much.  Unfortunately, when they stay in one place that makes them very difficult to catch.  It's also impossible to harvest them when the water is frozen over, so pray for warmer temperatures the week before February 14th or else we could be buying Northeast Canadian lobsters.

Canada right now is mostly producing lobsters that have been pounded, which means lobsters are previously caught and then placed in cages out at sea.  Orders are taken and then filled with previously caught lobsters and as inventory goes, so goes down, the price goes straight up.  Canada also sells a significant amount of product to Europe and China and with the rising middle class in China willing to pay more for lobsters, our prices here in the U.S. will rise accordingly.

Couple these facts with our current bad weather and we could be looking at some very high lobster prices, especially for hard shelled lobsters.  Hard shells produce the most meat and offer the briny-sweet flavor we have come to expect from cold water lobster.  None of this is new though, as Valentine's Day historically is when lobster prices are at their highest for the year.  Show me the love meets show me the money.  It usually is more affordable to bring your lobster home alive and prepare that special meal for your mate.  So, since lobster prices look to be on the rise this next month, I encourage all of you to tap your inner Yankee, grab some lobster bibs and take the plunge at home.  Cooking lobster at home is very easy, very tasty, and makes for a great love story.    

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pacific Salmon Company Tests Radiation Rumors

I have recently fielded more questions than usual about whether or not there have been any increased or dangerous radiation levels detected in fish harvested from our West Coast.  My answer has been and remains the same: no danger has been reported and proven with consuming seafood from our domestic West Coast fisheries.  There have been no substantiated reports proving that seafood from this area is contaminated or a risk.

There has been a recent rash of Internet rumors surfacing that fallout from the Fukushima disaster has made seafood harvested from our West Coast unsafe to consume due to high radiation levels.  The scaremongering taking place has prompted one Pacific seafood company to take action.  Loki Fish Co., of Seattle, WA recently sent wild salmon samples from five different salmon species harvested in Washington and Alaska to Eurofins Analytical Laboratories.  The laboratory tested seven samples for radiation, finding that five samples were free of any elements and two samples were found to have trace elements - though at levels well below the guidelines the FDA has set.  You can read more HERE.

The Internet is as dangerous as it is useful.  You can find an article to defend just about anything you want to believe in.  My recommendation is to check sources and only visit accredited sites you are familiar with, such as NOAA and Monterey Bay Aquarium.  Keep in mind that current scientific research is telling us that you are doing more harm to your body by Not consuming seafood than you are by consuming it.  This just in: domestic seafood is not only a safe choice of protein, but one of the healthiest you will find at the market.