Pollock Quota Cut Prompts Switch to Other Whitefish

Published on
February 8, 2009

Beginning in March, Nippon Suisan Kaisha Ltd. (Nissui) will use hoki instead of Alaska pollock in its Fried White Fish with Tartar Sauce product for the Japanese market. The product is part of the Hoshii Bun Dake (just the part you want) line.

Nissui spokesman Takehiko Shimizu said at the company’s Tokyo headquarters that the switch was part of an intricate balance the company must attain each year in response to fluctuating whitefish supplies.

Each year, the company looks at catch limits and reviews its global sourcing and marketing mix. Further, the grades must be taken into account, as lower grade fish will be used for surimi (fishcake) products, while higher grade fish will be used for fillets.

The 2009 U.S. Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock quota was cut 18.5 percent, to 815,000 metric tons. Many seafood buyers, in the United States and abroad, are now scrambling to source other whitefish such as hoki, hake and whiting.

As recently as 2006, Alaska’s pollock quota totaled 1.5 million metric tons.

Nissui will adjust to the quota cut by using hoki from Chile and Argentina, supplied by Nelson, New Zealand-based Sealord for the Japanese product. Shimizu said that a mix of whitefish sources is required.

Alaska pollack from the North Pacific accounted for about 40 percent of the world’s major whitefish catch in 2008, and about 41 percent of pollack was caught in the eastern Bering Sea. Thus, the U.S. Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock represents about 16.4 percent of the world’s major whitefish harvest last year.

Contributing Editor reporting from Osaka, Japan

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