Editor’s picks: Covered in oil
Here’s a look at this week’s can’t-miss SeafoodSource news stories and commentaries:
• This week, there was no escaping news of the catastrophic oil spill and its impact on the U.S. Gulf Coast seafood industry. The short-term impact is the supply hiccup. The waters stretching from the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana to Florida’s Panhandle are closed to commercial fishing through early next week. Louisiana alone represents more than 30 percent of the domestic seafood catch and leads the nation in production of shrimp, crawfish, blue crab and oysters. The long-term impacts are the class-action lawsuits against BP that are sure to drag out and the spread of fear and misinformation about “tainted” Gulf seafood, which organizations like the National Fisheries Institute and the American Shrimp Processors Association are fighting to stave off.
• In his “Delta blues” commentary, SeaFood Business Associate Editor James Wright writes about the plight of Alaska’s Yup’ik people and their Yukon River salmon, the popularity of which continues to grow. The fish and the people who harvest it were also the subject of a James Beard Award-winning TV show, King of Alaska, which aired on PBS. But life isn’t easy in remote Emmonak, Alaska, as last year’s commercial chinook fishery on the Lower Yukon was shut down due to an anticipated poor run, stifling the product’s momentum. But there’s good news on the horizon — this summer there will be a limited supply of Yukon king salmon and plenty of Yukon chum, or silver, salmon to go around.
• Should seafood eco-labeling guidelines be included in reform of the European Union’s Common Fisheries Policy? Yes, it should, according to French MEP Alain Cadec, who this week submitted a draft report to the European Parliament’s fisheries committee suggesting that “stringent and transparent criteria for certifying the quality and traceability” of seafood is necessary, which may involve consumer labeling.
• Three major aquaculture companies released their first-quarter results this week, and the news was mostly good. For Marine Harvest, the news was more than good, as the world’s largest farmed salmon producer watched its operational EBIT more than quadruple and its net earning nearly triple. Aquaculture technology firm Akva Group and fish-feed manufacturer Nutreco also posted positive results.
• This weekend will provide a good indication of whether U.S. foodservice sales are on the rebound. Sunday is Mother’s Day — the most popular dining-out holiday and second most popular dining-out occasion — and a number of restaurant chains and independent eateries are promoting seafood, even for brunch, to lure diners. They include McCormick & Schmick’s, Fleming’s Steakhouse and Morton’s The Steakhouse.