Spring Pollock Fishery 2021 results are better than expected

April 15, 2021 09:05

Traditionally, April 9 is treated as the end of the main fishing season at the Far East, it is the Sea of Okhotsk Alaska pollock fishery.  This year season was fairy unusual in many aspects.  The main difference is that it has not ended yet. Of course, the fishery in the three main subzones ended according to the plan, but this year East Sakhalin pollock fishery was certified by MSC, and therefore those few who have a quota there continued to work, reports Megafishnet.

First of all, we would like to note the revival of surimi production by Far Eastern fleet.  A new RFC supertrawler Vladimir Limanov entering the fishery became an important event for all Far Eastern fishermen. Even if not everything started working at once as dreamed of on a fundamentally new vessel, but the main thing is that the trawler began to work, just like the first trawlers built under the investment quotas program.

This year the fishery stumbled over many problems. Fish size, ice and weather conditions were more difficult than usual, and problems were superimposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year catch lagged behind 2020. During the season, 836 thousand tons of pollock were harvested against 988, which amounted to 84.6%. The catch rate increased in March and April, when even more pollock was caught than in the corresponding months of 2020, but this could not compensate for the loss of the first two months, although it should be noted that Lenin Kolkhoz and Dobroflot were able to even exceed the results of 2020 by 20 and 5 percent, respectively.  Pollock shortage was partially compensated by herring production increase: 92 thousand tons against 67.  However, in general we can say that the restrictions imposed by Chinese authorities dealt a heavy blow to the economy of Russian pollock companies.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the well-established logistics system of the main product, pollock HG, has gotten off. Instead of the usual delivery of the fish to Qingdao and Dalian by trampers, it was necessary to transship it into containers and store the product in Russia and Korea.  The situation in Busan has not improved so far; trampers going there are to wait for unloading for weeks.

To compensate the restrictions, fishermen increased fillet production from 40.5 to 47.7 thousand tons, despite the fact that BAMR and Pilenga (Gidrostroy) took out part of their capacities. Sigma marine technology holding especially distinguished itself, having increased production almost 4 times (just to compare: Okeanrybflot increase was 30%, RFC and Norebo 9%), and Norebo holding remained the champion in this product volume. Mince blocks production increased slightly (8.4 against 7.1 thousand tons), but HG pollock reached only 75% of the last year level, which, however, amounted to solid 338 thousand tons.  The production of the most profitable product, pollock roe, and pollock WR, decreased as well. Following the catch decrease the fishmeal production went down as well, however, the volume was significantly more than US production.

It is worth mentioning that external factors influenced the Russian fishery in almost the same way as the season A in the United States. American catch in the Bering Sea was 87% from 2020. True, the quality of raw material in the East Bering Sea decreased significantly, so the decline in production for some products turned out to be even more significant. Roe volume turned out to be just 65% of the 2020 level, PBO fillets, in which American and Russian fishermen are competitors – even 59%, but deep skinned fillets, that are mainly eaten in the USA, and surimi consisted 86%, and mince even 109%.  Anyway, A-season at Alaska is not over yet, and it we’d rather make comparisons later on.

Undercatch and, as a consequence, underproduction had a positive effect on the price level in the main markets, but it seems doubtful that the rise in prices will compensate for volume losses for both Russian and US fishing companies.

For copyright please contact Vera Aldokhina at vera@megafishnet.com.

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