IFQs a boon for Oregon seafood
Expect a large increase in Oregon's groundfish catch due to a switch from two-month trip limits to six-month individual fishing quotas (IFQs) in 2011, Brad Pettinger, director of the Oregon Trawl Commission, said at the FOODEX 2009 trade show near Tokyo earlier this month.
Pettinger expects the groundfish bycatch to drop under the IQF fishery management system. He also said West Coast groundfish stocks are recovering - overfished species have been reduced from six to three thanks to fishing restrictions implemented by the Pacific Fisheries Management Council (PFMC) and favorable ocean currents.
Pettinger manned the Oregon Seafood booth at FOODEX 2009 with Doug Heater, sales manager of Bornstein Seafoods in Astoria, Ore. As it would be difficult to suddenly find buyers, the Brookings, Ore.-based commission is trying to help build the supply pipeline in advance of the change.
Pettinger said black cod (sablefish) and channel rockfish, which are similar to the Japanese variety called "kinki," are already exported to Japan. He hopes to expand sales of these species to Korea and other parts of Asia.
At the show, Bornstein Seafoods displayed pink shrimp, Dungeness crab and albacore tuna. Heater was upbeat about the recovery of groundfish stocks and noted that his company has built the first new Oregon processing plant in recent years, in Astoria.
Oregon pink shrimp was the world's first shrimp fishery to be certified as well managed and sustainable under the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) program in 2007.
Pettinger expects Oregon's whiting fishery to be MSC-certified in April, and 25 species of West Coast bottomfish have completed the pre-assessment stage and will enter full assessment in the spring.
"That would nearly double the number of species MSC has certified, from about 35 now," he said. Along with the MSC moving its regional office from Australia to Japan, this should convince more Japanese seafood distributors and retailers to attain MSC chain-of-custody certification.