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Breaking news in the fishing industry.

Pacific Seafood accused of monopoly practices in anti-trust lawsuit

Pacific Seafoods has been accused of monopoly practices that harm fishermen on the West coast according to a law suit filed on behalf of some fishermen from Oregon. The suit, which is not backed by any state or federal attorney, claims that Pacific has achieved between 50% to 75% market share on major west coast species including dungeness crab, groundfish, whiting, and pacific shrimp. The plaintiffs claim that using this buying power, Pacific keeps prices to fishermen lower than they would otherwise be, and retaliates against both dealers who offer higher prices, and fishermen who land at those dealers.

The company has categorically denied the allegations, saying they are completely unfounded, and will be proven without merit. Pacific and its owner Frank Dulcich, who built the company from scratch into one of the largest vertically integrated seafood companies in the U.S., have been the target of legal actions in the past. Anti-trust suits are extremely complex and expensive, and it is not clear if the fishermen bringing the class action have the resources to carry it through. The price fixing lawsuit against Bristol Bay salmon processors in the 1990’s was enormously expensive, and resulted in a 30 day trial, in which processors were acquitted of any wrongdoing. The suit is the subject of our video today.

In other news, Bon Secour and other Alabama based seafood companies are scrambling to source product, as local fishing areas are shut down. It is not clear how long some of the companies can tolerate the operating disruptions.

The PSP outbreak in Alaska has gotten worse, with a second death reported. This is the first time since 1997 that fatalities have been associated with PSP. The lab data is still being evaluated, so conclusions are tentative, but they point to toxin from crab entrails being the cause. The dungeness personal use fishery opened recently in Southeast Alaska. Commercial crabmeat is not affected, and is monitored closely by state health authorities.

Are New England landings up or down? This seemingly simple question is getting more complex, as yesterday at the regional council, New England regional administrator Pat Kurkul said landings were down 24%. This contradicts data from the auctions that volume is up about 30%. For this to be true the auction share of total regional landings will have gone up from 43% to 75%. This may be an unintended consequence of the sector program – diverting landings from smaller ports.

DFO has extended the snow crab season in Newfoundland until July 8th in some major areas. About 70% of the crab is currently landed, but the pace is behind that of 2009. There have not been widespread reports of softshell crab, and the DFO has a monitoring system in place to close areas where softshell is observed.

John Sackton, Editor And Publisher , Lexington, Massachusetts


The polemic decision the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) made in granting certification to the U.S. pole and troll albacore fishery twice

The polemic decision the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) made in granting certification to the U.S. pole and troll albacore fishery twice has caused conflicts between the two organizations managing such certifications: The American Albacore Fishing Association (AAFA) and the Western Fishboat Owners Association (WFOA)…. Read article on (free subscription required)