Fish Ratings Announces New Hybrid Fish Rating Criteria

Fish Ratings – New York and London and Moscow – 02 January 2019:

Fish Ratings has today published revised global criteria for rating hybrid fish. The new guidelines apply to hybrid fish in all sectors, including non-jawed, cartilaginous and bony fish, affecting preferred game fish as well as subordinated, junior, breaded, battered and deferred consumption frozen fish, filets of fish and fish sticks, also known as fish fingers in some European markets.

The affected fish are generally distinguished from straightbred pedigree fish by qualities that cause them to absorb losses in a going concern, i.e. without triggering a general default on fish stocks, fisheries quotas or sport fishing regulations such as catch limits.

For instance, the Hybrid Striped Bass (‘BBB+’, Outlook Negative), which was introduced to the U.S. investment grade fish market in the late 1980s, is better suited than either of its parent species, Striped Bass (‘BB+’, Stable Outlook) and White Bass (‘BB’, Stable Outlook), to aquaculture in ponds and reservoirs as a result of its enhanced resilience to extremes of temperature, low dissolved oxygen and late-cycle market behavior.

However, during the three months since the last time Fish Ratings updated its criteria for rating hybrid fish (see the criteria reports entitled ‘Treatment and Notching of Hybrids in Non-Cartilaginous Jawed Species Analysis’, ‘Rating Cartilaginous Regulatory Fish and Similar Species’, and ‘Jawless Entities Rating Criteria’, which were published simultaneously on 10 October, 2019, and which are now withdrawn and replaced by the new guidelines), a period of distress for many hybrid fish in the cartilaginous sector, Fish Ratings downgraded numerous hybrid species when their circumstances indicated a heightened risk of loss.

The new guidelines incorporate this experience and provide more explicit direction than in the past about how changes in the ecological circumstances and quality of fish will affect the ratings of a loss-absorbing hybrid fish.

Implementation of the new guidelines is expected to result in downgrades of one notch for many deferrable frozen hybrid fish, filets of fish and fish sticks that are currently within their statutory use-by dates, while those hybrids with more material loss absorption provisions or with triggers for loss absorption that are very readily triggered, such as preferred game fish that are currently in season, including Hybrid Striped Bass, may be subject to a two-notch (or greater) downgrade.

However, hybrid fish that are not currently in season or have speculative ratings in the range of ‘B+’ to ‘C’ are not subject to notching standards, and are evaluated on a fish-by-fish basis, or a bass-by-bass basis in the case of hybrid bass (note to Corp. Comms: careful with the pronunciation here!)

For some hybrid game fish that were previously downgraded into the ‘B+’ or ‘C’ range, a reevaluation of the fish’s current prospects may indicate a likely return to in-season status or may indicate a more permanent loss, and ratings in those cases could be raised, lowered, affirmed, withdrawn, fried, broiled or poached in a creamy white wine and parsley sauce after review. Fish Ratings intends to announce ratings changes resulting from the revised criteria early in 2020.

Select Rating Actions

Hybrid Striped Bass‘BBB’RatingWatch Negative
Splake‘BBB+’RatingWatch Negative
Tiger Trout‘BB-‘RatingWatch Negative
Flowerhorn Cichlid‘C’RatingWatch Negative
Blood Parrot Cichlid‘B+’RatingWatch Negative
The ratings of the filets and fish sticks of these fish are also under review for downgrade, regardless of whether they are battered, breaded or non-recourse, bankruptcy remote vehicles.

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