I know this isn't exciting stuff, but it's extremely important to restaurants and distributors trying to figure out whether or not to buy in on frozen, how much to buy and for what period of time. So, let's get started....
In the current framework, boat owners have their choice of two options: either 36 open area days + 1 closed area (George’s Bank) or 31 open area days + 2 closed areas ( one in George’s Bank and one in Delmarva). Regardless, it has been estimated that the total haul this year will be under 40 million pounds (estimated 38.5), while 2013's framework (March 1, 2013 - February 28, 2014) yielded 41 million pounds, significant reductions over the previous three years.
Looking back at 2010 was 57 million pounds; 2011 was 58 million pounds; 2012 was 57 million pounds.
The big question is what will be the framework for 2015, beginning March 1, 2015 running to the end of February 2016?
My sources tell me there is a conference call today to discuss raw information that has been collected so far. The Mid-Atlantic surveys are reported to be complete. The George's Bank survey has not yet been done nor have the government/scientists surveys.
At this point, no one knows for sure what will be set as the harvest level for 2015. It was once thought the harvest would revert back to 2010-2012 levels of 50+ million pounds, but word on the street is that this probably won't happen. My sources say that while generally speaking the open areas have held up, they are still disappointing. There is a lot of seed but not as much as had been hoped. Therefore, it can be expected there will be a more limited effort in the open areas in 2015. If one were to guess, we might expect a framework of 45-48 million pounds, I am told, which would be more of a closed area fishery. Then, 2016 could get us back to the 50+ million pounds.
As for the rumor that a new restricted "closed" area called "The Northern Edge" would be designated, I was told that will be debated over the next 4-6 weeks and no final decision has yet been made.