May 3, 2023

Ag Economy

Aquatic/Fishing Industry Snapshot


  • 2022’s abnormally high prices brought resistance from some consumers and wholesale buyers. Prices have since declined to closer to the five-year average which has helped with product movement.
  • The ongoing concern regarding the endangered Northern Right Whale continues to concern the industry. Lobstermen will have to modify their gear and deal with area closures. The controversy surrounding the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “avoid” rating continues. The Federal Omnibus Spending Bill, passed last fall contained a provision giving the industry a 6-year reprieve from new gear requirements which was simultaneously applauded by lobstermen and criticized by conservation groups. 


  • Scallop pricing has trended down since January. The downward pressure is fueled by the uncertainty in the general economy, the increased cost of processing, and tempered demand within the retail sector due to inflation. Key industry players are citing general inflationary trends curbing seafood sales across the board. There is optimism that once the warm weather hits pricing will increase, and consumer demand will rise.
  • The scallop fishery is generally considered well-managed and there is no evidence of overfishing.  Scallop availability levels, as witnessed by annual landings, have recently come off a cyclical peak, with annual landings ranging from 51 MM to 60 MM lbs. from 2017-2019. Although the fishery is healthy, biomass and landings dipped in 2020 (41 MM lbs.) and 2021 (40 MM lbs.) with further reductions in 2022 and expected in 2023, which should result in stable but lower production. The New England Fisheries Management Council is estimating the 2022 US harvest of scallops will come in at 34 MM lbs. The 2023-2024 fishing year is looking to have 24 open days-at-sea and two 12,000 lb. closed area trips, with a projection of approximately 25 MM lbs., a 9M lb. reduction from fishing year 2022’s projected landings. This is due primarily to a decrease in harvestable biomass and a lack of significant scallop recruitment in recent years.  


  • General inflationary trends and the uncertainty in the general economy are curbing seafood sales across the board. The increased cost of production at processing facilities, increased cost of cold storage and tempered demand within the retail sector has caused a downward trend in seafood pricing. The groundfish catch has been stable. Quota measures from NOAA have decreased catch limits in a few sectors while others remain flat year over year.  

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