1. SO MANY BLUEFINS THEY ARE A NUISANCE! At the Boston Seafood Show, I had the pleasure of spending some time speaking to Captain Wesley of the 99 foot F/V IVY ROSE. He and his family fish some of the most productive sword & tuna fishing grounds in the world off of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Capt Wesley has been fishing the North Atlantic Ocean for 45 YEARS and said he has never seen so many bluefins in his life. He gears up for swordfishing in May and says he cannot get away from the bluefins anymore. They follow his boat like puppies and jump on the swordfish baits as soon as they hit the water. He ends up cutting them off the longline when picking it up the next day. Most are alive. He has to put large special floatation devices on the longline to keep it from sinking to the bottom with dozens of 1000 lb bluefins hanging on it nightly. He tried to explain the Canadian bluefin quota system to me but it sounded complicated, very messed up, with many different stakeholder groups pursuing many different agendas. SNAFU I would call it. The bottom line is there will be lots and lots of big bluefins in the ocean off Canada and the US this summer, so we will be offering these beauties on a regular basis. And we just so happen to have some THURSDAY THIS WEEK!! He also made the observation that he thinks the swordfish population is in trouble. There are no big swords or small swords out there. Let’s hope they rebound quickly.
2. LIVE LOBSTER MARKET STARTING TO CRACK. After weeks of “nose-bleed” level live lobster prices, the market is finally trending down. The price drop so far, in reality, is small, but it is a step in the right direction. The lobster industry knows it has to begin to bring customers back to buying lobsters again because at the end of April the flood gates will open with large areas of southwest Nova Scotia opening up.
3. SPRING FROST & LIVE SOFT CRABS. It seems a little strange, but as the saying goes, “it is spingtime somewhere”. Spring has sprung in Georgia and Florida. The blue crabs there are starting to crawl and grow as the water temps climb into the 70’s. As part of a crustacean’s life cycle, they must shed their shell (exoskeleton) to grow. Because the first soft crabs of the year can be worth so much money ($5-$6 each!), there are crab trucks who buy thousands of peelers in Georgia at 12 noon and those same peelers are in heated shedding tanks, shedding their shells becoming live soft crabs, in Crisfield Maryland 15 hours later !!! We will have live jumbo soft crabs to begin this week and hopefully make it through the weekend. PEELER RUNS make their way up the coast JUST LIKE A WAVE with the spring weather. South Carolina run will be next, followed by southern North Carolina, then the Outer Banks and then up into the Chesapeake Bay by early May. Crab populations are healthy and sell prices are projected to bottom out under $30/dzduring the height of the run in mid May.
4. BIOTECH SOYBEANS HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS FOR FISH!! Protein-rich soybean meal can easily replace fish meal and fish oil in feed for herbivorous fish. For carnivorous fish, soybean meal can replace fishmeal and fish oil for most of the grow out cycle, reserving this limited resource for feeding just before harvesting to increase healthy Omega-3 oil content. As the fish aquaculture business expands with global demand over the next 25 years, plant based feeds will become the norm because fish oil and fish meal are a decreasing resource.
5. MARYLAND CRAB SEASON STARTS TODAY!!! Chesapeake Bay “crab potters” set their pots today for the much anticipated start of the 2019 crab season. Expectations are for there to be plenty of crabs, plenty of “crab pickers” (seems like everyone got their HB1 visa workers) and thus plenty of fresh local Maryland picked crabmeat. Houses should be picking by Thursday for Friday delivery of the first fresh meat of the season.
6. LAST DAY OF PUBLIC OYSTER SEASON WAS LAST FRIDAY MARCH 29. Maryland watermen have been oystering since October 1 and no doubt are tired. It is a long cold season, working on the water daily all winter. Many make their living “scuba diving for oysters”, which is considered THE COLDEST JOB ON THE CHESAPEAKE BAY!
Search You Tube for our video about Chuckie White of Rock Hall Maryland, the oldest oyster diver on the Bay at 60 years old! https://youtu.be/uq8YjUmKJkg
7. LOCAL ELEPHANT TRUNK DAYBOAT SCALLOPS POSSIBLY BY THIS WEEKEND! Captain Derrick Hoy of the fishing vessel “Second to None” is putting the finishing touches on his boat and expects to be scalloping on the Elephant Trunk 30 miles east of Ocean city by this weekend. There is absolutely no comparison with Capt Derrick’s scallops, 24 hours out of the ocean, and any other scallop you have tasted. They should count less than 15 to the pound. Put your “selling shoes” on!
8. BLUECAT INVASION AND ASSAULT ON OUR NATIVE SPECIES! As we get into April our native “anadromous” species begin their ascent, as part of their spawning runs, of all Chesapeake tributaries. Waiting for them are millions of apex predator wild Chesapeake blue catfish. It seems clear to me that even with more people selling Chesapeake wild blue cats today, their population is still exploding. Previously thought to only inhabit the upper reaches of each tributary River, blue cats are now commonly caught recreationally and commercially in the main stem of the Bay. In January, one of our drift-net Rockfisherman hit a 3 mile school of 5-25 lb blue cats in the Bay just south of Solomon’s Island.
9. BIG JUMP IN ROCK PRICES THIS WEEK. As expected wild rockfish prices are moving up fast from their rock bottom (no pun intended) lows last week. Most Virginia fishermen have taken their nets up and are gearing up to go crabbing. The few wild rock being landed now have a maximum length of 28″ or about 7 lbs. Delaware Bay fishermen are also ready to go but won’t leave the dock until they are promised big money.
10. SWORDFISH: The rewards from our last full moon were limited. This week we will enjoy the benefits of the prime time for fishing swordfish a little late. The good news is that swordfish have started their annual migration from the Caribbean spawning grounds to the northern reaches of the Atlantic off the Canadian coast. Fish were caught off the Carolina coast last week. Swordfish can grow in excess of 1000 lbs. Mature females produce anywhere from 1,000,000 to 29,000,000 eggs when they spawn. Sounds tiring.
11. TUNA: The Gulf of Mexico is back online for it’s signature rock hard yellowfin tuna after a difficult Winter. High winds plagued the fishing fleet of our friends at Jensen Tuna storm after storm. Landings are good and hopefully the weather is merciful. Yellowfin tunas can swim at speeds exceeding 40 mph.
12. ROYAL BASS: What is the correct name for the farm raised Mediterranean Corvina. Meagre is the name most often used in the western Mediterranean where the majority of the fish are grown. Unfortunately, that name does not inspire thoughts of this delicious and succulent fish. Fortunately, we are allowed to call it Royal Bass. Sounds much better for the consumer. This firm white fleshed fish can be used in any application. The best news is that the average sized fish is getting larger. Currently we are receiving 4-6 lb fish which offer more versatility in use. You need to try this fish. It will not disappoint you.
13. ATLANTIC SALMON: Lent prices are abating and supply is stable for the near future. The demand for a higher grade of Atlantic salmon has created quite a few farms that use better techniques and standards to farm their fish. We hang our hat on Wester Ross Salmon. Grown in Scotland, the land of whiskey, kilts and haggis. What is haggis? Let’s continue about Wester Ross. Hand fed a superior feed in low density cages, the finished product is a firm, color rich salmon which stands out from the herd of boutique salmon products. Taste it and experience the definition of an artisanal farmed salmon.