Thursday, March 2, 2017

Oh snow!

The snow crab population in the eastern Bering Sea is experiencing a decline which affected the 2016/2017 fishery, which I reported here. That fishery is just now finishing up with the first boat loaded and headed home (shared by the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers). How that fishery performed and how that population is affected will have cascading impacts on market prices, new snow crab products (like McDonald's snow crab sandwich), next year's population health, and next year's fishery catch limits.

That's the Alaska side. What about Canada's snow crab fishery? They're probably doing good, eh? I mean, they have this guy:

(source: New York Times)

Sadly, even Justin Trudeau can't help the snow crabs. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) just released their snow crab stock assessment which shows that the biomass of legal crab for the Newfoundland and Labrador fishery has declined by 80% since 2013.


You guys. That's so bad. As Darrell Mullowney of the DFO says, "It's not a good news story." Or as Keith Sullivan of the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union says, "It's terrible, terrible news for people in the industry." Yeah man, terrible for the industry AND terrible for the crabs and their ecosystem. Remember, humans aren't the only ones who like to eat snow crabs. Atlantic cods do too, and they haven't really been living high on the hog anyway (what with its collapse in 1992).

Atlantic cod Gadus morhua (source: Joachim S. Müller)

So it seems that our Bering Sea opies aren't the only ones facing declines. Again, Mullowney commented on the global scale of depressed snow crab stocks, particularly in their southern most areas: "The magnitude of this in terms of socioeconomics I can't really quantify." We'll have to wait and see.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

This is testing my resolve, y'all

A while back I wrote a pretty honest blog about my feelings regarding lobster rolls. TL/DR: they're trash. Cut to last week when I saw this:

McDonald's is testing out a "snow crab sandwich" in San Francisco and I have SO MANY QUESTIONS!

1. YAY snow crab!

2. Wait, is it really snow crab Chionoecetes opilio? "Snow crab" could be Chionoecetes bairdi aka Tanner crab, or something else.

3. Is it 100% "snow crab" or a mix like those nasty, nasty lobster rolls?

4. Shoot, is this just another waste of good meat that should be happily dipped in garlic butter? Do I hold crab, even snow crab, to the same high standard of lobster? Because I love crab dip so much, do I really have room to judge a crab sandwich? (No. The answer is No.)

5. Opies and Tanners are having a rough time, population-wise, in the Bering Sea, with both stocks in decline and the Tanner fishery not even opened. If this sandwich does well, how will the demand of a fast food empire affect the snow crab market? Bering Sea opilio price-per-pound is already high (over $8.00 compared to last year's $5.90) because of the decline in population and subsequent decline in fishery production.

If you are in the Bay Area and are feeling adventurous, try out the new sandwich and let me know what you think!