Open Letter to Commissioner Campbell
By Andy Rauwolf
March 28, 2011
As you may be aware, conditions exist that are severly impacting the marketability of our kazunoko (herring roe) in Japan. It has been common knowledge for several years that younger Japanese are losing interest in this tradition. Along with this problem, Japanese super markets reported that Russian herring roe outsold Sitka’s and British Columbia’s product in the year-end 2010 sales season. This is due in part to lower prices for shipping. There is also reported to be a backlog of unsold Sitka herring roe left over from last year’s huge harvest.
The following is a current run-down on how things are shaping up so far this year : The San Francisco fishery had a near record harvest following last years first ever closure, but due to the small size of the herring they had a great deal of difficulty finding buyers for the product and had to settle for a meager price. Since then, Japan has suffered a major economic setback following the earthquake disaster.
Last week in the British Columbia fishery, the larger seine pools elected not to fish this year after buyers informed them that they are now only interested in larger fish, which can only be selectively caught from gillnets.
As it now appears, there will be a very poor market for seine caught herring in Sitka this year since smaller herring make up a large majority of the total seine catch. If your department moves ahead with this designated sac roe fishery. it would be advisable to insure that there are guaranteed contracts from buyers in place in advance at prices that make it profitable for those involved. If not, ADF&G could very well be presiding over the most wasteful harvest ever conducted in the history of the Alaska’s fisheries. Herring are far too valuable to the ecosystem than to wind up being dumped or ground up for fish meal!
Received March 23, 2011 - Published March 28, 2011
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