Change on horizon for U.S. grouper fishery
By Christine Blank, SeafoodSource contributing editor
28 September, 2009 -
The closure of the commercial grouper fishery in the South Atlantic this spring and a change in the grouper fishery management system in the Gulf of Mexico is likely to boost prices and imports of the species.
The National Marine Fisheries Service in July made South Atlantic shallow-water grouper fishing off-limits from January to April 2010. The same applies to vermilion snapper.
Additionally, NMFS will implement individual fishing quotas (IFQs) for the Gulf grouper and tilefish fisheries starting Jan. 1, 2010, to reduce fleet overcapacity and improve profitability. Currently, the fisheries are managed by annual quotas and trip limits.
"This should improve their ability to sell fish when demand is higher, and allow them to fish when market or weather conditions are good," said NMFS.
The domestic grouper supply is already down from last year, said Ernest Marias, co-owner of wholesaler Gulf Pacific Seafood in Odessa, Fla., who also imports product from Mexico.
With the spring closure and the new IFQ system, expect grouper prices and imports to rise, he said. Right now, grouper is commanding USD 4 a pound for 4-ounce to 6-ounce fillets and USD 5.60 to 6 for larger sizes.
However, imports from China, Indonesia and other countries may drive grouper prices down within the next year. Some restaurants are still illegally substituting grouper for imported pangasius, which costs significantly less, said Marias.
Through July, U.S. grouper imports totaled 5.4 million pounds, up from 5.2 million pounds during the same period last year.
Back to home >
Printer Friendly Version |
Email to a friend
To comment on or rate this news article, you must be logged in as a member. If you are already a member, log in here. If you’re not a member, click here to activate your complimentary membership.