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About Coast river business journal. (Astoria, OR) 2006-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 12, 2020)
10 • February 2020
COAST RIVER buSINeSS JOurNaL
“China isn’t taking any live seafood
shipments from anywhere,” said Antich.
“Lobster fisheries are shutting down in
Australia. China is the market for that
and they’re not taking any because of the
Some seafood companies are anxiously
taking a wait and see approach.
“We haven’t really seen the dust set-
tle on that one,” said Bornstein Seafood
co-owner Andrew Bornstein.
“Weather is the main adversary of the
Dungy fleet right now,” Bornstein noted.
Crab fishermen endure rough
seas, murky market
Commercial crab fishermen, now about
a month into a storm-riddled season, are
earning less for their dangerous catch as a
result of the coronavirus.
“We were getting a really good live
price about two weeks ago — a really good
price ($4.35) — but ever since that (coro-
navirus outbreak) we’re getting cooked
price, about a dollar difference,” said F/V
Cutting Edge Captain Brian Cutting, as he
watched his catch unloaded Sunday, Feb. 2.
“If we could still ship over to China, that
price would maybe be $1.25 or $1.50 more.
It was taking leaps and bounds there really
nice,” he said. “What little bit you had you
got paid well for it.”
The price difference between live and
cooked crab can vary depending on the vol-
ume coming in.
“Just for the crabbers price alone, it’s
almost a $1 per pound difference between
the live and cooked price, and that’s early
in the season. Sometimes the price gets
spread by $3 or $4, depending on the vol-
ume coming in,” Shirley explained.
“A lot of the fishermen utilize that to
maximize their extra dollars,” he contin-
ued. “The cooked price ($3.60) is a good
price for the boats. It’s very comparable
with where the live market was last year at
the same time. They’re not getting the live
[$4.35] price but it’s 60 cents higher than
last year, when cooked price was $3. It’s
a comparable year to previous years. The
biggest downfall has been the weather. It’s
been brutal. They’ve only had about 11 or
12 fishable days out the entire month [of
January] and that’s the big boats.”
Coronavirus is another blow to what
has been an ongoing struggle for fishermen
reeling from tariffs imposed on seafood
exports to China in 2018.
“The live market has been limited for
years because of the tariffs. It slowed it way
down,” Cutting said. “They can’t pay us as
much because they have to pay a 50% tariff.
We’ve dealt with (the tariffs) the last cou-
ple years. Three years ago, at a high point,
we got $10 a pound in the springtime. It
F/V Cutting Edge crew member Christopher Hinojosa offloads crab Sunday, Feb. 2. at Ilwaco Landing.
was a huge price. Ever since then we hav-
en’t seen that big price. We were hoping the
way things were rolling we could see it this
year, until the coronavirus.”
Catch stays local
Crab that would have been sent to China
is now largely going to local retailers,
restaurants and canneries.
“There’s a good and bad with every-
thing,” Shirley said.
“The economics are the biggest hard
fall from it,” he continued. “But at the time
same time, switching into cooking all of
our crab, rather than sending it to China, is
putting all of our crab right here in Amer-
ica. It’s going into all the retailers up and
down the coast for the Super Bowl and Val-
entine’s Day, when typically this time of the
year crab is starting to climb in price and
it’s much harder for the retailers to afford.
Every time it goes up a dollar, that many
people less won’t buy, so it’s keeping it
affordable. We’ve seen that immediately.
We’re doing fresh, whole-cooked for a lot
of different retailers where typically we’re
doing less this time of the year. What went
to China before is now going into our freez-
ers and local retailers and all over the West.”
Clear skies prevailed at the Port of Ilwaco on Sunday, Feb. 2, however bouts of bad weather through
a majority of January has kept much of the fleet in port. “They’ve only had 11 or 12 fishable days this
month,” Shirley said.