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Frozen rockfish in short supply

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
08 May 2017, at 1:00am

Poor weather conditions and a strong fresh market have kept frozen rockfish inventories bare, leading up to the busy summer season, according to Kyla Ganton, in Tradex Foods latest 3-Minute Market Insight.

In British Columbia, yellowtail and canary rockfish make up the majority of landings this season. The 2016/2017 Groundfish management plan from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans allocated 12 million lbs for the sector catch total for yellowtail, which has the biggest quota of all rockfish species. Canary rockfish quotas for this season are just over 1.7 million pounds.

As one West Coast processor commented, more red fish, like Pacific perch, are typically landed in the summer months, but shorter fishing windows this season have led to many boats still targeting greenies.

Fresh landings are slow, with prices on large rock around $3.60/lb and small rock between 30 and 50 cents less, which is right on par with last year. Frozen inventories are extremely sparse at the moment, it has been nearly impossible to find 6-8oz fillets in British Columbia for several months.

Larger fillets are easier to source, with 8 up IQF fillets in the Vancouver area last week in the range of $2.05 - $2.10 / lb. In the round, 1-2lb IQF rockfish caught in BC were around $0.70/LB in Seattle in April.

Below the border, fishing has been slow during poor weather conditions as well, with most harvests being yellowtail and widow rockfish. Landings of these species in Oregon were strong last year, at 2.2 million and 1.7 million pounds, respectively.

Most rockfish are being sold fresh and Tradex does not expect any product to hit freezers for at least a month. Early last month, 6-8oz fillets were in Seattle for $2.16/lb.

Several West Coast processors commented that the increase in rockfish out of Oregon could cause the market to saturate quicker than normal, possibly leading to a lower priced frozen market.