Alaska salmon forecast down 47%
Prices are expected to be strong at the start of the wild Alaska salmon season, which kicks off with the Copper River run in mid-May.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s recent 2014 salmon forecast projects an overall decrease in the commercial salmon harvest of a stunning 47 percent. The projected drop in total commercial salmon is primarily attributed to pink salmon, which is in an off year for the run.
“We are coming off an unexpectedly huge pink salmon year and then getting into a normal year. We had a record-setting pink salmon season last year, with some 90 million harvested in Prince William Sound alone,” Eric Volk, fisheries scientist for ADF&G, told SeafoodSource.
The projected pink salmon harvest is around 67 percent lower than 2013, which was 226.3 million.
“With the quota cuts, there is going to be a higher demand and less supply. An increase in prices is not going to be surprising,” Mike Warren, buyer and VP of quality control for distributor Tradex Foods, told SeafoodSource.
However, in some good news for buyers, the projected Alaska sockeye salmon harvest is 14 percent higher than in 2013, forecast for nearly 34 million. Plus, ADF&G projects 4.4 million coho and 19.9 million chum salmon.
In addition, the British Columbia sockeye salmon season is expected to offset some of the lower Alaska pink salmon harvest. If early predictions are correct, the Fraser River could have the biggest salmon run in B.C. history this summer.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada said the forecast ranges from a low of 7.3 million to a high of 72.5 million.
“The forecast for the British Columbia season for sockeye specifically is very good, which may counter any problems [with the Alaska harvest],” Warren said.