SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Fish Factor

Competition for Creative and innovative seafood products



November 29, 2015
Sunday AM

(SitNews) - The call is out for products to compete in Alaska’s most celebrated seafood bash, and another new category has been added to the mix.

For the 23rd year, the Symphony of Seafood in 2016 will showcase innovative new products that are entered both by major Alaska seafood companies and small ‘mom and pops’- such as last year’s top winner: Pickled Willy’s of Kodiak for their smoked black cod tips.

All entries are judged privately by a panel of experts in several categories, based on the product’s packaging and presentation, overall eating experience, price and potential for commercial success. A coveted People’s Choice award also is voted on by seafood lovers at gala events held in Seattle, Anchorage and Juneau in February.

The traditional categories of retail, food service and smoked were expanded last year to include Beyond the Plate – items made from seafood byproducts.

“There are companies and individuals around the state that are making all kinds of things from fish parts. It really opens the door to more innovators, and can include anything from fish oil capsules to salmon leather wallets,” said Julie Decker, executive director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, which has hosted the Symphony since it launched in 1993.

The 2015 Beyond the Plate winner was Yummie Chummies Pet Treats, made since 1998 by Arctic Paws of Anchorage.

New to the Symphony line up next year is another category: Beyond the Egg. It will include products such as herring roe on kelp, salmon caviar, or uni (urchin) paste or crème brulee.

“A significant portion of the value and health benefits in any fishery resource is found in the roe. Now the Symphony will have a category in which these products will be recognized and promoted, and further product development will be encouraged,” Decker said.

The top winners in each category are given an opportunity to display their products in March at Seafood Expo North America in Boston, one of the world’s largest trade shows.

“The multiple locations give companies the opportunity to introduce new value-added seafood products made from Alaska seafood and gain exposure with industry and culinary experts, seafood distributors, and national media,” Decker said.

The deadline to enter the 2016 Seafood of Symphony is January 8. Find entry forms and more information at

Frankenfish feedback

Reports of public discontent came rolling in immediately after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval last week of genetically modified salmon for human consumption. The “test tube” fish is being produced in Canada and Panama by Massachusetts-based, AquaBounty Technologies and will be sold under the “AquAdvantage” brand.

A New York Times readership poll found that 75 percent of respondents would not eat salmon that had been genetically engineered. And according to Friends of the Earth, over 60 U.S. grocery store chains operating 9,000 storefronts have vowed to not sell GMO or genetically modified products, including Safeway, Kroger, Costco, Target, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

“Despite FDA’s flawed and irresponsible approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption, it’s clear that there is no place in the U.S. market for genetically engineered salmon,” said Lisa Archer, a Friends of the Earth spokesperson. “People don’t want to eat it and grocery stores are refusing to sell it.”
The group also claims that at least 35 other types of genetically engineered fish are under development.

Nearly 1.8 million people have sent letters to the FDA opposing the approval of so-called Frankenfish, along with 3,000 consumer and health organizations. Because the man-made fish is categorized under “veterinary procedures” it will not require labeling on U.S. supermarket shelves.

“There were over 250 million wild salmon harvested in Alaska and Puget Sound this year. Why should we put this sustainable resource at risk for the benefit of a few multinational corporations who will, sooner or later, introduce GMO salmon into their floating feed lots? Americans will be eating synthetic salmon, thinking they are receiving the nutritional benefits of wild salmon,” said Dr. Pete Knutson, owner of Loki Fish Company and Commissioner on the Puget Sound Salmon Commission.

Fish watch

The preliminary harvest for roe herring next spring at Sitka Sound will be 15,674 tons, nearly double this year’s quota of 8,712 tons. The final harvest will be announced by state managers in early March.

The state is predicting a harvest of 34 million pink salmon next year in Southeast Alaska, which is below the recent 10 year average of 38 million pinks.

The University of Washington Alaska Salmon Program is predicting a harvest of 34.1 million sockeye next year at Bristol Bay -- well above the 29.5 million forecast released by state managers. The UW forecast is paid for each year by Bristol Bay processors.

At Upper Cook Inlet a sockeye salmon harvest of 4.1 million is projected for 2016. That’s 1.1 million greater than the 20 year average catch.

The Bering Sea pollock catch next year is likely to be another big one – equal to or greater than this year’s 1.3 million metric tons, or about three Billion pounds. Deckboss reports that the average Eastern Bering Sea pollock harvest has averaged 1,178,008 tons (2.6 Billion pounds) from 1977-2015.

Food flops

Seafood Source reports that research by Rowse Honey discovered an alarming lack of knowledge among overseas consumers about where their food comes from.

In a study of 2,000 adults, one fifth of young adults in the United Kingdom believe that fish fingers are actually made from the fingers of fish.

One in seven people didn’t know that lamb comes from sheep or that a pork chop comes from a pig. One in eight believed that farmers have to squeeze bees to get honey.

Perhaps the most alarming find was that one in five young adults said they simply did not need to know where food comes from. Two thirds of those surveyed blamed this failing on sourcing food from supermarkets, while a further six in 10 cited ready meals as the cause.

This year marks the 25th year for this weekly column that focuses on Alaska’s seafood industry. It began in 1991 in the Anchorage Daily News, and now appears in over 20 newspapers and web sites. A daily spin off – Fish Radio – airs weekdays on 30 radio stations in Alaska. My goal is to make all people aware of the economic, social and cultural importance of Alaska’s fishing industry to our state, the nation and the world. 

Laine Welch ©2015

Laine can be reached at msfish[AT]

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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