Friday, November 04, 2005

Seafoods of the World

Here's an education in what's out there on the world market in the way of seafood products. Over 1,400 companies from all over the world and pictures of their products on this site, supposedly. You could buy Nile Perch from, you guessed it, the Nile River. Sea bass from South America, wild abalone from Australia, lots of squid products from China (mainland), as it's listed.

Picture of yours truely with mudflats and Port of Anchorage in the background.

You hear a lot about globalization of seafood. How in one deal, the Norwegians will provide the financing, to get Russian fish to China for processing, and then send it to the U.S. for sale to consumers. The South Koreans built a large scale, regional seafood processing center awhile back now. That's where at least some the roe herring Alaskans have been selling to the Japanese went.

I was always a little skeptical of this arrangement for the sake of fishermen that caught the roe herring and assumed it was being sold just for the roe. After all, Alaskan processors used to just grind up the whole male herring, and the female herring minus the roe. Or take it to the land fill. Or later, make meal and oil out of the carcasses. But what happens to this "byproduct" when it is out of sight of our shores. Maybe it is turned into 25 different products that is made and marketed by only a few savvy Asian companies.

Remember when the Japanese said we would never be able to make surimi. The industry in Alaska asked for and recieved State and Federal help to develop the products so Americans, as first owners of the fish, could go straight to market. American fishermen are getting hip to this now too. First you have the Regional Seafood Development Associations in Alaska, which can tax their fishermen base to do product development and marketing. And now you have a national association of fishermen starting up.

The semantics have always been misleading. The National Fisheries Institute, and other lobbying groups like it, have always been dominated by the large processors, the secondary producers. Are fishermen starting to view their local friendly processor as Japanese surimi barons? (Disregard the fact that at one point the seafood industry in Alaska was 85% Japanese owned.)

Of course I'm doing reverse reporting here. I must have been way ahead of my time 15 years ago when I started a lone crusade of talking that angle up. Once I went broke doing it, that cured me, kinda.


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