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Editor's Note: Year in review

Property of SeaFood Business magazine
By Fiona Robinson, Editor in Chief
December 01, 2008

What a difference a year makes. There's no better time for reflection than at the end of the year 
before the big guy in the red suit squeezes into his sleigh. Here are the events, reports and 
topics from 2008 that will have a long-term impact on the U.S. seafood industry, in order 
of importance:

The recession. A slumping housing market, the sub-prime mortgage fiasco and skyrocketing oil prices made people begin whispering the word "recession" early in the year. Icelandic banks were taken over by the government in October, affecting seafood companies worldwide. Prior to Thanksgiving, seafood buyers were slashing orders and suppliers were struggling to find a home for what was in some cases shiploads of product ("How bad will it get," p. 14).

Groundfish market tightens. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council was scheduled this month to decide on a 19 percent cut in the 2009 Bering Sea pollock quota; this year's quota was slashed by 28 percent. Further south on the West Coast, seafood processors were given 20 percent of the whiting quota when the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted in November to enact individual fishing quotas ("Council unanimous on IFQs," p. 10).

The battle for offshore aquaculture regulations rages on. A dozen congressmen and nearly 50 consumer, fishing and environmental groups oppose a measure allowing the Minerals Management Service to issue leases, easements and rights of way for offshore fish farms in federal waters. If progress is not made on offshore aquaculture in Congress, the industry can expect the NIMBY cries closer to shore will all but kill any bid to increase domestic aquaculture production.

ISA rocks Chilean salmon farming industry. The farmed salmon industry first denounced the severity of infectious salmon anemia, then word slowly slipped out that the news was true, and worse than expected. Processors slashed jobs, and farmers are looking to expand elsewhere. Lesson learned here? Honesty is the best policy.

Organic seafood standards move forward. In a move that stunned some environmentalists, the U.S. National Organic Standards Board approved criteria for organic seafood production ("Organic seafood closer to reality," p. 10). Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture may take a few years to review and approve the recommendations, there may be light at the end of the tunnel for fish farmers seeking organic labels.

Spotlight on farm abuse. The industry strongly denounced "The True Cost of Shrimp," unveiled by the Solidarity Center in April, one of the first reports claiming worker abuses at shrimp-processing plants in Southeast Asia. The allegations may not be verifiable for most, but the report increased the importance of including socioeconomic factors in third-party farm certification programs.

Gulf Coast seafood industry battered again. Hurricanes Ike and Gustav slammed the already struggling Gulf Coast seafood industry in September, causing an estimated $300 million in economic losses to Louisiana's seafood industry alone. Will the Gulf Coast seafood industry ever get a break?

 

The industry faces many more challenges in the future. You can rely on SeaFood Business and www.SeafoodSource.com to keep you informed of all the news that's critical for your business.

 

 

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